Standing up to JPMorgan

Chance Lunning reports on a struggle in Minneapolis to prevent an eviction.

Activists from Occupy Homes MN rally to defend Sergio Ceballos from eviction (Chance Lunning | SW)Activists from Occupy Homes MN rally to defend Sergio Ceballos from eviction (Chance Lunning | SW)

SERGIO CEBALLOS, a homeowner in Minneapolis, is facing imminent eviction due to the predatory practices employed by his bank, JPMorgan Chase.

In response, neighbors and community members, together with Occupy Homes MN, have launched a 24/7 eviction defense, including nonviolent direct action, to prevent any eviction from taking place and to demand that the bank work with Ceballos to keep his family in their home.

When Ceballos first began to work with Occupy Homes MN, it seemed as though his case was unlikely to come to the point of eviction. The bank had agreed to review Ceballos' loan in order to begin the process of a loan modification that would have allowed Ceballos and his family to stay in their home.

However, despite seeming to be working with Ceballos, the bank continued to move forward with the eviction process, using an illegal tactic known as dual tracking.

"We aren't looking for a free house," said Ceballos to the over 100 supporters rallying outside his home on July 1 to launch the eviction defense, "just a modification."

This is the first eviction defense that Occupy Homes MN has organized since its defense of the Cruz family home last year, which resulted in the arrests of 39 supporters. Speaking at the July 1 rally, David Cruz said, "I'm glad to see people ready to face the police, the banks (again), and the city."

What you can do

If you are in the Twin Cities area, text @OccupyHomes to 23559 to receive emergency eviction defense alerts from Occupy Homes MN. Visit the Occupy Homes MN website for more information.

The Ceballos home is located in Minneapolis's Eviction-Free Zone, which Occupy Homes MN established late last year. Encompassing the Central and Powderhorn neighborhoods of Minneapolis, the Eviction-Free Zone is an attempt to move beyond merely organizing around one home, bringing neighbors behind the fight to stop all evictions and foreclosures in their neighborhood.

As the crowd outside the Ceballos home rallied to show their support, they were informed that, inside the house, the bank was on the phone. "Whose house?" the crowd began to chant, "Sergio's house!" A short time later, an organizer for Occupy Homes MN informed the crowd that their chanting had been effective--the bank said they were considering calling off the eviction.

The fight to save the Ceballos home is far from over, but the bank's wavering shows the power of the struggle of people from below. Evictions can be stopped, but only when we get organized and fight back.