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actions & protests | homelessness

Public Eviction Protest (Poor Person's Economic Campaign, MSP) Ends in Police Brutality

Protesters get maced, kicked, and arrested during Minneapolis eviction-spread this around!
Twin Cities Indy Media, September 11, 2009
*****

Thirty-five days into the popular occupation of 3138 Clinton, Rosemary
Williams (*one of **five Minnesota women publicly resisting eviction -
TCIMC/PPEHRC
video*< link to twincities.indymedia.org)
was inside her home when it was raided by the Minneapolis Police Department
around 2:45pm Friday afternoon. Three supporters were inside. Police
claimed they would give ample time to move out remaining belongings, and
those inside did so, aided by several dozen who rallied to the scene.

But later in the afternoon, the MPD's plan for a quiet, obedient eviction
was foiled. After rallying the crowd, a handful of activists crossed the
yellow tape roping off Clinton Avenue on either side of the house and were
promptly assaulted by the police with kicks and pepper spray. Other
supporters crossed the now-removed yellow tape from the opposite direction
to ensure the activists' safety. Officers responded aggressively; one
shoved someone to the ground with a two-handed shove to the chest. A TC
Indymedia volunteer was sprayed directly in the face while on the "public"
side of the police tape.

Four or five people sat down in front of the house in an act of civil
disobedience. An officer pointed to another man standing motionless with
the crowd outside the police cordon, grabbed him and arrested him.
Eventually, seven were taken waiting vans in the alley and arrested. An MPD
spokesman said they were charged with obstruction of legal process, though
they have not actually been formally charged as of tonight. *This video
(1:50) shows the police conduct during the civil disobedience.*

Related video: Before the
arrests< link to twincities.indymedia.org

*Upcoming:* *Saturday 10am* Leaflet at 7th/Hennepin outside Obama
event | *Sunday
2pm* Press conference outside Rosemary's house

*Have videos, photos, or updates? Post them as a comment or publish to the
newswire < http://tc.indymedia.org/publish>.*

At the time of the raid, occupants of the house were preparing for a
two-year-old's birthday party. The party was moved to a nearby home. MPD
spokesman Jesse Garcia later lied in front of reporters by denying that the
child's party had been disrupted.

Garcia was later heard saying into his cell phone what sounded like, "we
look like the bad guy." Certainly, any prospect of the MPD appearing
benevolent disappeared as afternoon turned into evening. Although one or
two officers were reportedly helpful - as helpful as one can be while
evicting a 55-year block resident - during the process, most were
unsurprisingly rude with neighbors and supporters as well as disrespectful
to Rosemary's belongings.

A man and woman from the MPD crime lab were inside the police lines, taking
video and photo of activists. For a significant time they refused to
identify themselves, but eventually gave their badge numbers after extended
jeers from the crowd.

As police milled about, outraged activists and many immediate neighbors
joined in chanting, "Who's house? Rosemary's house," "Housing is a human
right! Eviction is a crime" and "Let Rosemary stay!"

The building was boarded - or, more accurately, the windows were sealed shut
by unfamiliar sheets of durable metal - by workers from Vacant Property
Security < http://www.vacantpropertysecurity.com/> of Chicago, Illinois
(where the Cook County Sheriff has boldly declared a moratorium on
foreclosure evictions). The special materials are supposedly designed to
make breaking in more difficult. They were also used on the second story
windows; the city of Minneapolis typically only boards the first-floor
windows of vacant buildings.

According to City Council member Elizabeth Glidden, who has offered tepid
support for Rosemary throughout her struggle, private security has been
hired by mortgage company GMAC to patrol the property, and the MPD will not
pay it special attention. A man wearing a private security uniform arrived
on the scene as police and protestors prepared to leave, and spoke with an
officer. He refused to identify himself or his company, or say whether his
company was the one hired to patrol.

Glidden said the police action "makes no sense," and was saddened by the
scene Friday. She says she "scoured what she could do" and "tried to be a
personal advocate for Rosemary," though some supporters have questioned her
commitment to seeing Rosemary keep her home no matter the method. She
refused to condemn the MPD, saying they were "caught in the middle."
Notably absent from the scene of the raid, however, were any other seated
politicians, including mayor RT Rybak.

A FOX 9 TV cameraman arrived, though other TV stations were notably absent.
The day's corporate news was instead dominated by the 9/11 anniversary, a
pending Barack Obama visit to Minneapolis, and the funeral of a North St.
Paul police officer killed on Monday while responding to a domestic violence
incident (the suspect was himself shot and killed by a fellow officer).
Print, radio and independent media flocked to the scene, however, including
a German reporter on assignment from the Washington Post who had been in
Minneapolis to cover the occupation

Just before 5pm, Rosemary emerged for the first time from inside her house,
holding a bouquet of flowers in the air to applause from the crowd, which
began to chant, "It's not over yet!"

Soon thereafter the civil disobedience and arrests began. As the arrested
activists - some going limp - were dragged to the alley away from the crowd
and most media, many began call-and-response chants with the gathered
suporters. Those who had been pepper sprayed directly had their eyes washed
out with water. People berated the police for their rough treatment of the
arrestees.

Ironically, the MPD dragged at least one arrestee through Rosemary's house,
out of view, to the backyard to be loaded into the booking van.

Shortly after the action subsided, one officer's arm was being bandaged with
what looked like a small blood stain soaking through.

Rosemary Williams was not one of those arrested.

Later, others were allowed to continue moving out some belongings. After a
long wait, around 8pm, the workers finished boarding and drove away,
followed by most police officers. When it was all done, a crowd of about
three dozen still remained.

*A Small Sampling of Overheard Professional Remarks from the Minneapolis
Police Department:*

Officer I. Raichert, pointing to a legal observers' cap (NLG legal observers
have traditionally worn the green caps for years): "So, is that leftover
from the RNC?"

Unknown officer leaning from second story window, to a supporter in a
neighbor's yard: "If you don't get out of the yard, we'll put a 45mm in your
face."

Unknown officer when asked about his badge while leaving: "I'll take it off
and we can figure this out aruond back, if you want." He refused to give
his badge number.
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