When Brother Ali was arrested for his act of civil disobedience back in June, one of the first things he did after being released from jail was reflect on what motivated him to cross police lines and stand up for the Occupy Homes movement. Getting arrested wasn’t a decision Ali took lightly, and the morning afterwards we had a lengthy chat about what the Occupy Homes movement was about and, more specifically, whose lives it was affecting.
Unlike the more generalized Occupy movement, which started on Wall Street and eventually spread to cities around the U.S., the Occupy Homes movement started right here in Minnesota. Ali has been active in the movement from the start, and explained as much when we spoke:
Minneapolis was the first city where [Occupy Homes happened]. A woman named Monique White, who was in foreclosure unjustly — this was a woman who made payments on her home faithfully for 10 years, had a job, did everything right. She worked in a program helping kids. They lost their funding, and she lost her job. It took her two months to get back on her feet and resumed making her payments. But the bank sent her payments back, and told her, “There’s nothing you can do. We’re not going to meet with you.” She never got a meeting face-to-face until Occupy stepped in.
What Occupy Homes is doing is just bringing pressure to bear on the bank and on the authorities to postpone things, to spotlight the situation, and pressure the bank to sit down with the homeowner and come to a solution that allows them to keep making their payments. We’re not asking for free homes. These people aren’t trying to get a handout. To sit down with the person, negotiate, and keep families in homes, and keep money going – these people are paying off their homes. So that was a victory.
After seven months of protests and negotiations, that first Occupy Homes case in defense of Monique White’s home has been resolved, and White will be able to remain in her home. To celebrate, White is opening up her house and yard for a celebration, and she’s booked quite the lineup of entertainment for the event: Brother Ali will headline a backyard concert that also features Rhymesayers labelmates I Self Devine and Toki Wright, plus Jayanthi Kyle of Black Audience, Nick Mastermind Muhammad, and spoken word artist Sol Ras.
The event is free and open to the public; more info is available on Facebook.