USuncutMN says: Tax the corporations! Tax the rich! Stop the cuts, fight for social justice for all. Standing in solidarity with and other Uncutters worldwide. FIGHT for a Foreclosure Moratorium! Foreclosure = homelessness. Resist the American Legislative Exchange Council, Grover Norquist and Citizen's United. #Austerity for the wheeler dealers, NOT the people.

We Are The 99% event

USuncutMN supports #occupyWallStreet, #occupyDC, the XL Pipeline resistance Yes, We, the People, are going to put democracy in all its forms up front and center. Open mic, diversity, nonviolent tactics .. Social media, economic democracy, repeal Citizen's United, single-payer healthcare, State Bank, Operation Feed the Homeless, anti-racism, homophobia, sexISM, war budgetting, lack of transparency, et al. Once we identify who we are and what we've lost, We can move forward.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

American Indian Movement Stands with Foreclosed Anishinabe Homeowner | The UpTake

American Indian Movement Stands with Foreclosed Anishinabe Homeowner | The UpTake

Click on this picture to see Troy's story.

Activist Troy Amlee, a Lakota whose native name is White Horse Warrior, responded to a request from Occupy Homes MN to meet with an Anishinabe woman, Anita Reyes-LeRey, whose south Minneapolis home had been foreclosed upon by Woodlands National Bank, even though she thought she had a deal to rent the home and then acquire a new mortgage two years later. Reyes-LeRey was four minutes late in calling the bank to finalize the agreement, and the deal was cancelled.

Amlee is a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM). AIM was involved last year with the Occupy movement, but had ceased until he skateboarded to Reyes-LeRey’s home. “So now I’m thinking that this could mend the threads that have been broken so to speak,” he said.

Four-Minute Late Phone Call to Bank Could Cost Anita Her Home | The UpTake

Click on Anita's Picture to See Video.

Video by Bill Sorem, Text by Jacob Wheeler

Anita Reyes-LeRey’s phone call to the Vice President at Woodlands National Bank, was four minutes late, and as a result, the Native American might lose the south Minneapolis home for which she and the Occupy Homes MN movement have fought.

Reyes-LeRey has owned her home for 17 years and has $50,000 in equity. She endured a series of financial and health setbacks when her job hours were cut and vertigo prevented her from making the 100 mile, one-way drive to work, prompting her to fall behind on her mortgage payments. Anita tried to negotiate a new mortgage with Woodlands National Bank in Onamia, Minn., which holds the mortgage, but was unable to do so.

Woodland’s National Bank Vice President Cindy Koonce, told Reyes-LeRey that she would do everything she could to help the homeowner. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson offered to look over Reyes-LeRey’s loan documents for the bank. She returned to work and earned more than enough to afford her mortgage. But to Reyes-LeRey’s shock, on the end date of her redemption period, Koonce called and told her she needed to leave her home.

With the help of Occupy Homes MN, Reyes-LeRey began building a public pressure campaign, including call-ins and a petition for Woodlands National Bank to renegotiate her mortgage and keep her in her home. The bank tentatively offered to rent her the home and, after two years, prepare a new mortgage so she could buy it back. The deal required an up-front $2,100 payment — an amount that Reyes-LeRey was uncertain she could raise the money but nevertheless did. But her phone call was four minutes after noon, and Koonce told her the deal was off.

A video from Occupy Homes MN shows a bank official confirming the deal was off because Reyes-LeRey called in “after noon.”

This discussion begins at 4:02 on the above video:
Occupy Homes MN Cameraman Ben Egerman: So can we just note that yesterday we were told by Cindy Koonce, that at 12 (noon) today we would meet with her or talk to her…
Minneapolis Branch Manager Joanne Whiterabbit: What Woodlands bank was negotiating with Anita to do was to allow her to rent her home.
Egerman: Yes and…
Whiterabbit: She needed to let us know by noon today if she had the money that they had discussed for rental purposes…
Egerman: and when did she…
Whiterabbit: the home ownership, the home ownership, that issue is already been done. And that was finalized on April 23rd
Egerman: And when did she call to do that? When did she come to actually do that? It was noon.
Supporter: You needed her to respond to say that she had the money for the deal.
Whiterabbit: Right.
Supporter: And she did.
Egerman: And she did.
Whiterabbit: It was not before noon.
Egerman: When was it?
Whiterabbit: Pardon?
Egerman: When was it?
Whiterabbit: I’m not sure of the exact time. I just heard from Cindy that it was after noon.
Egerman: It was 12:04
Supporter: It was 12:04 when she called.
Whiterabbit: OK
Egerman: So do you think that’s a legitimate thing to say that 12:04 is too far after?
Whiterabbit: It’s not my call to say whether it’s legitimate or not. But the agreement that you had was that it would be done by noon.
Supporter: Why wouldn’t you do a new agreement then?
Whiterabbit: It, it… we’re done.
Egerman: So you’re not going to help?
Supporter: We’re just starting.
Whiterabbit: OK that’s fine. But I just want to acknowledge Anita that I’ve been here for you and worked with you and helped you and I have tried to help you keep your home. And this is not the first time you’ve been in this situation.

While the eviction notice has been put on hold, it could be enabled at any time by the Woodlands Bank. Instead of relenting, Reyes-LeRey has stopped packing as she waits in hope that a solution can be reached.

Contacted by The UpTake, Koonce at Woodlands National Bank said she she couldn’t comment at this time.

Reyes-LeRey says that if she is able to keep her home, she will offer a free room for at least a year to someone who is willing to help people stay in their homes and fight foreclosure. “I just want them to have that time and that energy to be used towards something that’s meaningful.” 

Related Links: petition to Woodlands Vice President Cindy Koonce: Negotiate with Anita Reyes to stop her foreclosure

American Indian Movement supports Reyes-LeRey in her foreclosure fight

Why do the police protect the Bank$ter$?

For GOD Sakes!.. Make sure that Bank is safe from those Savages!..

Government and Corporations have united against the people...  WELCOME to the modern day feudal system, the knights are protecting their lord.

Protest demands drop the charges against anti-foreclosure activists | Fight Back!

Protest demands drop the charges against anti-foreclosure activists | Fight Back!

14 face ‘riot’ charges 
By Staff |
July 24, 2012
Read more articles in
Rachel Lang of the National Lawyers Guild speaking at City Hall protest
Rachel Lang of the National Lawyers 
Guild speaking at City Hall protest 
(Fight Back! News/Staff) 
Minneapolis, MN – More than 50 people rallied inside City Hall here, July 24 to demand all charges be dropped against members and supporters of Occupy Homes who were arrested defending the Cruz family home. In recent weeks, city prosecutors added the charge of third degree riot - a gross misdemeanor which carries a sentence of up to one year in prison and a $3000 fine - to the original trespassing charge. The 14 were arrested May 30 in a peaceful protest at the Cruz family home.

Speaking in City Hall, Rachel Lang of the National Lawyers Guild announced the start of a campaign to press city officials to drop the charges. Other speakers included hip-hop artist Brother Ali, Michael Friedman of the Legal Rights Center and Dave Bicking, formerly of the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority.

The decision of city officials to escalate the charges against anti-foreclosure protesters is an attempt to attempt to intimidate activists. The protests organized by Occupy Homes have garnered international media coverage and has been successful in saving the homes of those hit by foreclosures.

Other demands put forward at the protest were that, “All police, including Chief Dolan, who used violence against peaceful protesters be formally disciplined,” and that “no more public resources be used to help banks evict our neighbors.”

Monday, July 23, 2012

Say NO to political prosecution of anti-foreclosure protesters! « MN Coalition for a People's Bailout

Say NO to political prosecution of anti-foreclosure protesters! « MN Coalition for a People's Bailout

 We need to stand up for the right to protest!

CALL…Mayor R.T. Rybak at 612-673-2100,
Assistant City Attorney Mary Ellen Heng at 612-673-2270
City Attorney Susan Segal at 612-673-3272
  • Ask them why Occupy protesters are facing unusually harsh charges.
  • Demand that they drop ALL CHARGES on anti-foreclosure protesters

On October 20, 2011, hundreds of people participated in a demonstration in front of U.S. Bank in downtown Minneapolis to draw attention to the fact that over 25,000 Minnesotans lost their homes to foreclosure in 2010 alone. 7 people were arrested in the intersection in front of the bank and charged with “interfering with pedestrian and vehicular traffic.”

Four of them are scheduled to go to trial on July 30th, but on July 20th they had 3 more charges added (unlawful assembly, public nuisance and not complying with a “peace officer”)!

Nationally, the Occupy movement is facing increasing police brutality, police infiltration, and trumped up charges. Locally the Minneapolis city attorney’s office has decided to try to shut down the growing movement of people standing in solidarity with families struggling to save their homes from foreclosure by giving protesters outrageous charges. For example, the city prosecutors have escalated charges on the 14 protesters who defended the Cruz family home on May 30th. Prosecutors at the City Attorney’s office originally charged supporters with trespassing, but have now moved to significantly more serious charges including 3rd degree riot – a gross misdemeanor which carries a sentence of up to one year in prison and a $3,000 fine.

The city of Minneapolis is trying to scare people from standing in solidarity with people being thrown out of their own homes. 

Solidarity is not a crime! 

Don’t jail the movement, jail the bankers! 

We, the People’s Bailout Coalition, know from our work defending the homes of Rosemary Williams and Leslie Parks that it is essential to our movement for people to be able to protest home foreclosures. The foreclosure crisis is a central issue in the U.S. economic crisis – we cannot be scared away from this important issue and from the tactic of civil disobedience!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Woman Almost Evicted By Company That Didn’t Own Her Home | The UpTake

Woman Almost Evicted By Company That Didn’t Own Her Home | The UpTake

Connie Gretsch In front of her Minneapolis home-photo courtesy Occupy Homes MN
Video by Bill Sorem, text by Mike McIntee
Minneapolis resident Connie Gretsch was bracing to be evicted from her longtime Minneapolis home.
Gretsch Eviction Timeline
“I had this plan that when they came to take me out of my house that I was going to chain myself to my washer and dryer,” said Gretsch. “And when they would take me away I’d ask them to put the load in the dryer for me.”
Gretsch then laughed at the thought. She could laugh now, because she had discovered the company trying to evict her had no right to do so. Pacifica didn’t own the mortgage on her home.
Hennepin County property tax records show the company hadn’t owned the home since at least May 15 and may have sold the home as early as February (see timeline at right.) Yet lawyers for the company signed documents on June 14, nearly a month after title on the home had changed hands, swearing to the court that the company still owned the home.
The gaffe, once discovered, may have led to the quick dismissal of eviction proceedings against Gretsch. But the case opens a whole host of questions about how foreclosure and eviction cases are handled as well as the incentives some companies have to ignore government rules and foreclose anyhow.
Lenders slow to negotiate as homeowner racks up thousands in late fees.
A lawyer for Pacifica swear it owns Gretsch's House. Turns out it doesn't.
Gretsch bought her home about 17 years ago. She refinanced in in 2006 but then lost her job in 2009. At the time, Citimortgage serviced her mortgage.
Court records show Citimortgage granted her a loan extension agreement, which lowered her monthly payments to $615 a month and put the amount she still owed back into the loan.
However, as part of the 2008 bailout of the banks, the federal government requires financial companies to modify qualified unemployed homeowners mortgages to an even lower monthly payment than Gretsch had agreed to. In April 2010, Citimortgage told Gretsch she had been accepted into the program and her monthly payments would now be $300.
Unfortunately, Gretsch said she now owed an additional $30,000 dollars on the mortgage in back payments and late fees.
Mortgage sale to Pacifica complicates matters
According to a class action lawsuit, what happened to Connie Gretsch next may have violated multiple provisions of the federal Frank-Dodd Act that’s designed to protect homeowners… including a provision that prevents mortgage companies from foreclosing on a home while the borrower is being considered for mortgage assistance.
“I paid one month and they sold the loan to another company (Pacifica),” Gretsch said. “(Citimortgage) did not send any of the records and told them (Pacifica) that I had not paid anything for a year.”
Pacifica entered into a contract with Acqura Loan Services to collect the monthly payments and process the paperwork on the mortgage.
Hennepin County Tax Record- Gretsch Home
Property Tax Records Show Citibank, Not Pacifica, Owns the Gretsch Home
Court records say Acqura notified Gretsch it would no longer accept her payments, which Gretsch’s attorneys say “artificially and illegally caused a purported default” which they say is a violation of federal law.
Gretsch says Aquira moved to foreclose on her home instead of working with her to modify the loan as required by the federal Frank-Dodd Act. She made repeated requests for mortgage assistance to Acqura, but she says all of them were ignored or denied without notice or explanation…which is also a violation of federal law, according to her attorneys. A lawsuit filed by Gretsch says Acqura has offered no written explanation for its conduct.
Foreclosed and ready to quit
Her home was sold at Sheriff’s auction in November 2011. She says Pacifica tacked about $100,000 on to the original mortgage of $240,000 and then bought the home from itself.
“I felt that I had lost my fight. And I started looking at other places to live. My credit rating was so terrible, I couldn’t find a place to rent,” said Gretsch.
“One day I was packing and I just decided I wasn’t going to leave. And I went to the Occupy Homes meeting at the Cruz’ house on Cedar.”
It was there she found encouragement to fight back. Other foreclosed homeowners convinced her she shouldn’t be embarrassed by her situation. She used that encouragement to contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s office about Acqura’s actions.
Minnesota Attorney General’s office to the rescue
The Attorney General’s office seemed to agree with Gretsch that Acqura had not followed the rules and told mortgage owner Pacifica that in a letter. “Acqura Loan Servicing failed to respond in a proper manner to Ms. Gretsch’s request,” wrote William Gosinger, who works in the Attorney General’s consumer services division. “Ms. Gretsch now requests Pacifica Mortgage halt all foreclosure action and provide a mutually acceptable option allowing her to remain in her property.”
It was about this time that Gretsch discovered that Pacifica no longer owned the home and could not evict her. Pacifica had sold the mortgage to Citibank at least a month earlier. Two days after the Attorney General’s office sent the letter, Pacifica asked the court to dismiss the eviction proceedings against Gretsch.
It’s unclear if Pacifica asked for dismissal because of the letter or because it no longer owned the loan. Pacifica’s lawyers would not answer those questions without speaking to their clients and have yet to call The UpTake back with an explanation.
For saving her home, Connie Gretsch is sending a birdhouse to the MN Attorney General's office
A broken system “It just only proves that this is not being dealt with properly. I don’t think anybody’s is being dealt with properly,” says Gretsch.
“It’s ruined people’s lives. And nobody has backed up and said we’re going to do it any differently. Gone are the days where you know your banker and you have to face the people that you do business with.”
The foreclosure business is impersonal. Gretsch recalled talking to the person who served her with an eviction notice. “I asked the server why he even does this and he says, ‘well, I have to make my money and last week I delivered one to my sister.’”
Gretsch is giving the Attorney General’s office credit for keeping her in her home. She has a small birdhouse she plans to give the office as thanks for their help.
But while the immediate threat to evict Gretsch from her home may be gone, she still has to negotiate with Citibank to either modify or give her a new mortgage on her home. Tax records say its market value is $196,000. Pacifica paid $240,000 for it before it sold it to Citibank.
Gretsch is also waiting for a judge to rule on her class action lawsuit that could impact her and as many as 50 to 100 other people who may have been wronged by Acqura, many of them in Hennepin County.
Class action lawsuit alleges loan companies have incentive to game the system
That class action lawsuit says the mortgage system makes it more profitable for third party loan servicers such as Acqura to avoid modification, keeping the mortgage in a “state of default or distress” or pushing the loan toward foreclosure. The lawsuit says that profit the loan servers make by delaying loan modification is more than the $1,000 the federal government pays to have the loan modified. Therefore, there is not enough financial incentive to modify the loan.
The lawsuit says Acqura has illegally ignored or denied loan modification requests from Gretsch and other homeowners facing foreclosure. It also says that Acqura violated federal law by not checking to see if homeowners were eligible for federal assistance before starting to foreclose on them.
Acqura is also accused of violating Minnesota laws that regulate the standards of conduct for loan servicers.
Acqura disputed Gretsch’s claim and tried to have the case moved to a federal court. That move failed and it was heard before Hennepin County Judge Susan Robiner in March. She is expected to rule on Gretsch’s class action suit by July 20.
The human toll
Gretsch is a health care worker. She says the toll foreclosures are taking on people is more than just financial.
“One area that hasn’t been really talked about, and I’m a health care provider, is the emotional and physical stress that is put on people and children. And once I get my feet on the ground and get to a point where I think I have this place saved, I want to develop some health care for people that have been totally brutalized by this system.
“People are killing themselves. And it’s not their fault.”
Links to documents and sources used for this story:

  • Class action lawsuit Gretsch Vs Acqura Filed Jan 2012

  • Letter from Minnesota Attorney General’s office to Pacifica asking it to stop eviction.

  • Letter from Pacifica attorney asking judge to dismiss eviction proceedings against Connie Gretsch