Occupy Homes celebrates new victories with party and conference

Categories: Protest News
Daniel Yang
Monique White rallies the crowd of supporters at her house on Wednesday night.
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On Wednesday night, while about 150 people were in Monique White's yard, listening to Brother Ali perform, White's neighbors were peering curiously over their fence. The family had just moved in about a month ago, and the crowd next door was the first they were hearing about White's struggle against foreclosure and her alliance with Occupy Homes. "So they helped save her house?," one of the new neighbors asked, trying to puzzle out what the party was for.

In June, after three years of uncertainty and a seven-month vigil with Occupy, White's bank agreed to modify her mortgage, allowing her to stay in her home of nine years. In the past two weeks, Occupy Homes MN has won three more home loan modifications, bringing their total number of victories up to six, including White's. And this week, the group hosted a national conference with 48 housing justice activists to discuss the next phase of the movement.

So White decided to again open up her north Minneapolis house to Occupy Homes, this time not to fight, but to celebrate. Yesterday, White and organizers set up a stage, sound tent, potluck and produce stand in her yard, and her family and friends -- plus local and national Occupy participants, fellow homeowners, and a handful of music fans there for performances -- turned out for the festivities. Along with Brother Ali, Sol Ras, I Self Devine, Toki Wright, and Jayanthi took turns on stage.
Daniel Yang
Brother Ali performs at Monique White's celebration party.
This being an Occupy occasion, party-goers got a dose of the political. Between sets, organizers climbed on stage and asked the crowd how they were going to vote on the marriage amendment and voter I.D. laws. One, Becky Dernbach, read an excerpt from her Dr. Seuss-style children's book, about two "bumbling villains," Freddie and Fannie, who gamble away the savings of the residents of Homesville.

At the back of White's yard, past the stage but before the port-a-potty, was a healthy garden, packed with zucchini, squash, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers, green beans, and other produce. Back in April, when the future of her property was still uncertain, White decided to plant the garden as a symbol of her commitment to her home.

Last night, she re-affirmed that commitment, as Occupy Homes helped her plant another addition, this time a plum tree.

"I'm kind of overwhelmed," White says. "I expected a lot of people, but I didn't know how huge of a turnout it would be. What it reminds me of is the first day that Occupy came to Occupy my home, just because of the energy and all of the people that are supportive of me."

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