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Minneapolis - Around 6:30am Thursday morning a large balloon banner reading "Evictions Stop Here" was deployed above the embattled home of the Cruz family as 15 supporters of the Cruz family began an occupation of the rooftop in protest of the family's unjust foreclosure. By 8:30am two were cut out of a lockbox device with an electric saw, handcuffed, taken down a ladder and arrested for trespassing. The action kicks off a national day of action in 18 cities demanding PNC Bank negotiate with the family to allow them to return to their home.
Alejandra and David Cruz went to the bank's headquarters in Pittsburgh around 1pm with over 40,000 petition signatures and their loan modification documents demanding a meeting with CEO Jim Rohr to renegotiate their mortgage.
The Cruzes' battle against an unjust foreclosure has become a focal point for the Occupy movement and garnered media attention from around the country. In the past month, 24 community supporters with Occupy Homes MN have been arrested defending the south Minneapolis home. The campaign has become a sticky political situation for local elected officials, PNC Bank, and Freddie Mac, the current owner of the property.
Although PNC has acknowledged the foreclosure was due to a bank error, executives have repeatedly said they are working "behind the scenes" to fix the situation, and Executive Vice President Dan Taylor said that he would look into the Cruzes' case, the bank has not offered a negotiation. "We feel like PNC and Freddie Mac have forgotten us," said David Cruz. "So we're going to remind them."
On their way to Pittsburgh, the Cruzes stopped in Chicago to visit Freddie Mac, the current owner of the home, at their regional office, where 40 supporters rallied with the Cruzes' battered front door. Supporters then marched to a local PNC branch where they were denied entrance by Chicago police officers and the branch refused to accept the Cruzes' loan documents.
Thursday evening in Minneapolis, community members and neighbors rallied to sending a clear message to PNC Bank that if a negotiation has not been offered, supporters will continue to return to the home even if it means risking arrest. "This home belongs to the Cruz family," said Occupy Homes MN organizer Nick Espinosa. "We won't rest until they're back in it."