By Maya Rao
A Socialist candidate running for a south Minneapolis council seat was arrested Wednesday for refusal to disburse and interfering with traffic, along with a dozen other people rallying outside of Wells Fargo in support of greater rights for homeowners.
“The arrests were a form of civil disobedience to draw attention to the emergency that exists in the housing crisis,” said Ty Moore, 35, who spent most of the night in jail.
The Powderhorn resident said the rally of several hundred, organized by Occupy Homes Minnesota, began at 5th Avenue S., between 35th and 36th Street, at the home of a woman who is facing foreclosure. Then they traveled to 33rd St. and 2nd Avenue South, where a homeless woman moved in with her four children to an empty, bank-owned house, to advocate that she be allowed to stay.
On Wells Fargo's home mortgage campus nearby, Moore said, members of the group then took turns speaking about housing issues and called on Wells Fargo to put a moratorium on foreclosures and to reduce the principals for troubled mortgages down to market value.
Moore said that after security asked the group to leave, they moved onto E. 26th Street to continue protesting. The arrests occurred around 5:30 p.m., he said.
Police confirmed the arrests today.
"We will always respect the rights of Americans to peacefully assembly, and we welcome open and collaborative dialogue with our stakeholders ... Wells Fargo is a company with a long history of responsible lending, local community investment and involvement, and prudent risk management," said bank spokeswoman Peggy Gunn in an email.
Moore is running in the ninth ward, which is being vacated by Council Member Gary Schiff so he can campaign for mayor.
“A lot of people and a lot of politicians are worried that socialism is viewed as a dirty word, but I wear that label proudly,” said Moore, who won the endorsement of the Green Party.
He provides educational services for Socialist Alternative, an organization that desribes itself as fighting "against the exploitation and injustices people face every day." If elected, Moore said, he would push to have the city to stop having police enforce bank-ordered evictions of borrowers facing foreclosures. Moore also wants the city to buy back more vacant, foreclosed properties and turn them into subsidized public housing.