Surprise! Surprise! NYPD lied under oath to prosecute Occupy activist

Mario Tama / Getty Images / AFP

(RT) An Occupy Wall Street activist was acquitted of assaulting a police officer and other charges on Thursday after jurors were presented with video evidence that directly contradicted the NYPD’s story.

Michael Premo was found innocent of all charges this week in regards to a case that stems from a December 17, 2011 Occupy Wall Street demonstration in Lower Manhattan. For over a year, prosecutors working on behalf of the New York Police Department have insisted that Premo, a known artist and activist, tackled an NYPD officer during a protest and in doing so inflicted enough damage to break a bone.

During court proceedings this week, Premo’s attorney presented a video that showed officers charging into the defendant unprovoked. The Village Voice reports that jurors deliberated for several hours on Thursday and then elected to find Premo not guilty on all counts, which included a felony charge of assaulting an officer of the law.

Since his arrest, supporters of Premo have insisted on his innocence. “They’re trying to make something out of nothing and they’re trying to charge him with something that didn’t actually occur,” colleague Rachel Falcone told Free Speech Radio News this week.

After being arrested, the Manhattan District Attorney‘s office presented Premo with a deal that would have let him off the hook by pleading guilty to lesser charges. Maintaining his innocence, however, he was determined to fight the case in court.

Premo was “facing serious charges and potential substantial jail sentence, even though he never should have been arrested at all,” his supporters claimed in a post published on The Laundromat Project website.

Nick Pinto of the Village Voice says he was nearby during the December 2011 rally and recalls watching Premo’s arrest from a distance. In his report from court this week, Pinto explains how the details provided by the NYPD in this trial have been fabricated to such a degree that the allegations presented by the cops turned out to be literally the opposite of what occurred.

“Premo charged the police like a linebacker, taking out a lieutenant and resisting arrest so forcefully that he fractured an officer’s bone. That’s the story prosecutors told in Premo’s trial, and it’s the general story his arresting officer testified to under oath as well,” Pinto writes. He adds that attorneys for the defendant underwent a lengthy search to try and find video that verified their own account yjpihj, and found one in the hands of Democracy Now. “Far from showing Premo tackling a police officer,” writes Pinto, that video “shows cops tackling him as he attempted to get back on his feet.”

The footage obtained from Democracy Now also showed that an NYPD officer was filming the arrest as well, but prosecutors told Premo’s attorney that no such footage existed.

“There is no justice in the American justice system, but you can sometimes find it in a jury,” Premo tweeted after he was acquitted this week.

In an interview given to NBC in 2012, Premo identified himself as a spokesperson for the Occupy Wall Street movement. He has also led an initiative in the New York area that have provided relief to those that endured last year’s Superstorm Sandy and has also advocated for fair housing.

“The biggest thing for me coming out of this,” he told the Voice, “is not being discouraged by the attempts of New York City to quell dissent and prevent us from expressing our constitutional rights.”

“I Always Feel like Sombody’s Watching Me” – Secret FBI Documents prove Occupy Infiltration and Surveilance

It really isn’t a surprise to any of us who participate in the Occupy Movement, that the many Occupy groups across the nation and the world, would be infiltrated by the powers that be at some point.  It was expected, and in many cases prepared for.  What is a surprise is the collective of agencies both public and private in the United States and abroad, that feared the Occupy Movement, and worked together in an effort to conduct surveillance of  it’s operations and in some cases, attempted to thwart and/or subvert their plans.

Once secret documents reveal the FBI monitored Occupy Wall Street from its earliest days and treated the nonviolent movement as a potential terrorist threat. Internal government records show Occupy was treated as a potential threat when organizing first began in August of 2011.

Counterterrorism agents were used to track Occupy activities, despite the internal acknowledgment that the movement opposed violent tactics. The monitoring expanded across the country as Occupy grew into a national movement, with FBI agents sharing information with businesses, local police agencies and universities. We’re joined by Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which obtained the FBI documents through Occupy LSX Take Over Unused Courthouse, Planning Mock Trial for 1%the Freedom of Information Act. “We can see decade after decade with each social justice movement that the FBI conducts itself in the same role over and over again, which is to act really as the secret police of the establishment against the people,” Verheyden-Hilliard says.

A full transcript of the discussion after the jump.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin with a look at newly revealed documents that show the FBI monitored the Occupy Wall Street movement from its earliest days last year. Internal government records show Occupy was treated as a potential terrorism threat when organizing first began in August of 2011. Counterterrorism agents were used to track Occupy activities despite the internal acknowledgment that the movement opposed violent tactics. The monitoring expanded across the country as Occupy grew into a national movement, with FBI agents sharing information with businesses, local police agencies and universities. One FBI memo warned that Occupy could prove to be an “outlet” through which activists could exploit “general government dissatisfaction.” Although the documents provide no clear evidence of government infiltration, they do suggest the FBI used information from local law enforcement agencies gathered by someone observing Occupy activists on the ground.

AMY GOODMAN: The heavily redacted FBI records were obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund through a Freedom of Information Act request. We invited the FBI to join us on the program to discuss the latest revelations, but they declined. Instead, spokesperson Paul Bresson issued a written statement saying, quote, “The FBI cautions against drawing conclusions from redacted FOIA documents.” He also said, quote, “It is law enforcement’s duty to use all lawful tools to protect their communities.”

Well, for more, we’re joined by Mara Verheyden-Hilliard. She’s executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which obtained the documents showing how the FBI monitored Occupy Wall Street, joining us now from Washington, D.C.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Mara. Tell us what you found. We’ve got time. Tell us what you found in these documents.

MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: Well, the documents, as you stated, show that the FBI and American intelligence agencies were monitoring and reporting on Occupy Wall Street before the first tent even went up in Zuccotti Park. The documents that we have been able to obtain show the FBI communicating with the New York Stock Exchange in August of 2011 about the upcoming Occupy demonstrations, about plans for the protests. It shows them meeting with or communicating with private businesses. And throughout the materials, there is repeated evidence of the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, American intelligence agencies really working as a private intelligence arm for corporations, for Wall Street, for the banks, for the very entities that people were rising up to protest against.

AMY GOODMAN: Interesting that they came out on Friday before Christmas?

MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: Well, we certainly thought so. We have been trying to get these documents for more than a year. The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund filed original FOIA demands with federal agencies as well as municipalities and police departments all around the United States, and we did so in the fall of 2011, when there was evidence of a coordinated crackdown on Occupy all around the country. And we wanted to get the documents out to be able to show what the government was doing. And the FBI has stonewalled for a year, and we were finally able to get these documents. They came to us, you know, as you said, the Friday before the holiday weekend. And we wanted to get them out to people right away. We assumed the FBI was expecting that, you know, it would just get buried. And instead, I have to say, it was, you know, great to be able to get these up and have people around the United States be able to see what the FBI is doing.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And Mara, what about the issue of actual infiltrators, either paid or sent in by law enforcement or the FBI into the Occupy groups?

MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: Well, the documents are heavily redacted. There is a lot of material that, on the pages themselves, we cannot see. And the documents also, in terms of the breadth and scope of the production, we believe that there is a lot more that’s being withheld. Even when you go through the text of the documents, you can see that there’s a lot more in terms of meetings and memos that must exist. And we are filing an appeal to demand and fight for more material to be released.

But even in these heavily redacted documents, you can see the FBI using at least private entities as a proxy force for what appears to be infiltration. There is—there are documents that show the Federal Reserve in Richmond was reporting to the FBI, working with the Capitol Police in Virginia, and reporting and giving updates on planning meetings and discussions within the Occupy movement. That would appear, minimally, that they were sending undercovers, if not infiltrators, into those meetings.

There is another document that shows the FBI meeting with private port security officers in Anchorage, Alaska, in advance of the West Coast port actions. And that document has that private port security person saying that they are going to go attend a planning meeting of the demonstrators, and they’re reporting back to the FBI. They coordinate with the FBI. The FBI says that they will put them in touch with someone from the Anchorage Police Department, that that person should take the police department officer with him, as well.

And so these documents also show the intense coordination both with private businesses, with Wall Street, with the banks, and with state police departments and local police departments around the country.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break and then go specifically to several of the documents you got under the Freedom of Information Act. We’re talking to Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, who is the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which got the documents under the Freedom of Information Act, has been trying to get them over the past few years. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We go back right now to Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which released documents showing how the FBI monitored Occupy Wall Street. I want to turn right now to one of the documents. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. I want to turn to part of a memo dated October 19, 2011, from the FBI’s field office in Jacksonville, Florida. The document is titled, quote, “Domain Program Management Domestic Terrorism.” It shows the FBI was concerned the Occupy movement, quote, “may provide an outlet for a lone offender exploiting the movement for reasons associated with general government dissatisfaction.” In particular, the document cites certain areas of concern in Central Florida where, quote, “some of the highest unemployment rates in Florida continue to exist.” Mara, can you talk about this idea of a lone offender threat?

MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: I think that that is very much a measure of box checking by the FBI. I don’t believe—and their documents show that they did not believe—that this was a movement that posed a threat of violence. Now, throughout the documents, they’re using their counterterrorism resources and counterterrorism authorities, they are defining the movement as domestic terrorism and potentially criminal in nature. But the fact is, they also throughout the documents say that they know that this is a peaceful movement, that it is organized on a basis of nonviolence. And by that logic, of course, you can investigate everyone in every activity in the United States on the grounds that someone might do something sometime. And, in fact, think about the tea party rallies. The tea party was having rallies all around the United States where their members come carrying weapons—they’re open carrying—including at events where the president of the United States was speaking. But the FBI is turning its attention to this movement.

And when they reference the locations in Florida, I think that’s actually a political analysis, a recognition that this is a movement whose time has come. And whether it’s in hibernation right now, it is based on an organic reality of the economic situation in the United States. And the FBI is referencing the high level of unemployment, the needs that people have, and it’s a recognition, too, of the dynamism and the dynamic nature of the people of the United States, the people all over the world, when they organize and come together. That’s the threat that we believe the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are truly focused on, not a threat of violence.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Mara, I’d like to turn to another document from the FBI’s New York field office that shows FBI personnel met with representatives of the New York Stock Exchange on August 19th, 2011, to discuss the Occupy Wall Street protests that were set for the following month. The memo describes the meeting, saying, quote, “Discussed was the planned anarchist protest titled ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ scheduled for September 17, 2011. The protest appears on anarchist websites and social network pages on the internet.” The memo goes on to say, quote, “Numerous incidents have occurred in the past which show attempts by anarchist groups to disrupt, influence, and or shut down normal business operations of financial districts.” Talk about these meetings between law enforcement and the parties targeted by Occupy Wall Street, Mara.

MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: Well, again, the documents throughout show that they know that the movement is nonviolent. And the FBI routinely uses reference to anarchists and demonizing anarchists or a political ideology as if it’s an—identical with criminal behavior. And so, they often reference anarchists in these materials and other materials that we’ve gotten over the years in our litigation, even where they know there are not acts of violence. And we also know how frequently the police themselves, you know, mask up and infiltrate demonstrate demonstrations, posing themselves as the anarchists that they’re always saying that they’re worried about.

But those documents again show the FBI working with private industry, with the banks. They’re not bringing evidence of real threats of violence. They’re talking about political uprising. And I think we can be sure that if they had evidence of criminal activity, they wouldn’t have redacted it. They would have been happy to produce that. But they don’t have it. And over and over again, you have the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security basically conducting themselves in a form of police statism in the United States against the people of the United States.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what about the historical precedent here, the history of the FBI’s involvement in monitoring, surveiling and sometimes disrupting peaceful, dissident activity in the United States?

MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: Well, exactly. This is just part and parcel of the long history of the FBI. And this is not the first incident, it is not going to be the last, and it’s not the worst, to be honest. We all know that. It’s not—you know, the FBI has a long history — ’50s, ’60s, ’70s — of mass surveillance, of targeting of people based on political ideology, of efforts to disrupt the movements for social justice, for efforts to shut down black liberation movement, the antiwar movement. And in the ’70s, of course, there were these great revelations about the abuses of the FBI, of the CIA, of other security agencies. And there were the Church Committee hearings. There were supposedly protections put in place. But we can see, you know, decade after decade, with each social justice movement, that the FBI conducts itself in the same role over and over again, which is to act really as the secret police of the establishment against the people.

AMY GOODMAN: Mara, a document from October 2011 indicates law enforcement from the Federal Reserve in Richmond, Virginia, was giving the FBI information about Occupy Wall Street. It says the Federal Reserve source contacted the FBI to, quote, “pass on information regarding the movement known as occupy Wall Street.” Interestingly, the memo also notes that Occupy Wall Street, quote, “has been known to be peaceful but demonstrations across the United States show that other groups have joined in such as Day Of Rage and the October 2011 Movement,” it says. The memo describes repeated communications to, quote, “pass on updates of the events and decisions made during the small rallies.” Can you talk about the significance of this document, Mara?

MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: That document is one of the ones that would indicate the FBI was minimally using private entities or local police departments as proxy forces for infiltration, for undercover operations, to monitor, surveil, collect information. And that document, too, and the series of documents also showed the breadth of the reporting. So you have individuals on the ground with the Federal Reserve Bank, with the state police agencies, apparently monitoring and collecting information on the planning discussions of protests in Richmond, reporting them into the FBI and also reporting them into state fusion centers and to other intelligence and domestic terrorism data centers.

Now, the data warehousing in the United States, the mass collection of data on the people of the United States, is of great concern. And you can see, through these documents, the FBI is collecting a lot of information on completely lawful activities, on the activities of people who are not alleged to have committed criminal acts, are not planning criminal acts, who actually are engaged in cherished, First Amendment-protected activities. And yet, it’s being collected under the imprimatur of domestic terrorism or criminal activity and being entered into these mass databases, which have a huge level of dissemination and access and which are virtually unregulated.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you very much, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, for joining us, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which released the documents showing how the FBI monitored Occupy Wall Street. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report.

Austin Police admit Occupy Austin was infiltrated by undercover Police, who acted as instigators (w/video)

Finally an admission. An Austin Police Officer admits in court yesterday during a pre-trial hearing, that almost from the Beginning, Occupy Austin was infiltrated by Police, who acted as instigators. Officers also had role in making possible illegal device used in Occupy Houston protest.

An Austin police officer has testified in a pre-trial hearing in Houston about allegations he encouraged criminal behavior as an undercover agent in the Occupy movement.

We did some digging and found court documents from Houston that reveal activists’ allegations that Austin Police Department Detective Shannon Dowell pushed them to break the law.

(via Austin American-Statesman) Soon after Occupy Austin protesters began their months-long demonstration at City Hall last fall, Austin police officials assigned at least three undercover officers to infiltrate the group to gather intelligence on any plans that might break the law.

The officers camped with other participants in the movement, marched in rallies and attended strategy meetings with Occupy Austin members.

The officers also may have crossed a fine line in undercover police work: They helped plan and manufacture devices – often called “lockboxes” – that allowed Occupy members to tie themselves together during a protest in Houston, according to interviews and court records. The use of the devices, which makes it harder for police to break up human chains, resulted in Houston police filing felony charges against seven protesters who had attempted to block a port entrance in Houston on Dec. 12.

The revelations include behind-the-scenes details of the lengths the Police Department went to in its efforts to monitor and control the Occupy Austin movement, which maintained a presence at City Hall for nearly five months. According to court documents, police brass up to and including Chief Art Acevedo approved the infiltration operation.

Police officials confirmed the use of undercover officers in the Occupy Austin movement but declined to comment on the officers’ role in obtaining the lockbox.

The infiltration operation has prompted a high-level review in the Austin Police Department. Assistant Police Chief Sean Mannix said that “we are absolutely looking into all aspects of what their undercover work was.” Mannix would not discuss the specific actions of officers but said he doesn’t think any laws or departmental policies were violated.

It also was the topic of a hearing in a Harris County district court case earlier this week, in which protester Ronnie Garza is seeking to have the charges against him dropped.

It’s not clear who first proposed making the lockboxes. But during the hearing, attorneys and Austin Police Detective Shannon Dowell – who wore a long black beard and was known to Occupy members as “Butch” – disclosed that Dowell had purchased PVC pipe and other materials with Occupy Austin money and delivered the finished lockboxes to group members.

The devices used in the Houston protest are generally built from 5-foot lengths of 5-inch wide PVC pipe with a bolt inserted in the center. Two protesters can put their arms in the pipe and grip the bolt, making it difficult for police to pull them apart.

Garza’s attorney, Greg Gladden, said the case against his client should be dismissed because Dowell and other undercover police played a central role in the charges filed against Garza. While 10 protesters who didn’t use the lockboxes were charged with lower-level misdemeanors, Harris County prosecutors charged Garza and six others with felonies, using an obscure statute that prohibits using a device that is manufactured or adapted for the purpose of participating in a crime. They face up to two years in jail.

“Entrapment is one term,” Gladden said. “Police misconduct might be another term.”

Harris County District Judge Joan Campbell, who initially dismissed the case – prosecutors then took it before a grand jury and obtained indictments – said she plans to decide next week whether the case will go forward.

During a hearing Monday, she expressed frustration at Dowell, who failed to bring records to court that Gladden had subpoenaed. Dowell said he lost a small computer drive containing photos when it apparently fell out of his pocket and into the gutter of a Houston hotel where he had stayed. He added that while he had sent and received emails related to the undercover operation from his work computer, they had been deleted.

Gladden was skeptical of the explanations. “I think he decided it was time the dog ate his homework,” he said.

Although Campbell said she would not immediately force officials to release the names of the other undercover Austin officers Dowell worked with, she might do so in the future.

Mannix said that soon after the movement started, police began receiving reports from participants and other confidential informants that some participants may have been planning to protest in illegal ways.

“We obviously had an interest in ensuring people didn’t step it up to criminal activity,” Mannix said. “There is obviously a vested public interest to make sure that we didn’t allow civil unrest, violent actions to occur.”

The use of undercover officers during the movement surprised some Occupy Austin protesters. During the demonstration, police had touted their relationship with the group, and Acevedo posed for photos with members.

“It’s a shame the Austin Police Department felt they had to pay three officers to spy on us under the guise of protection,” said David Cortez, who said he helped coordinate bank protests for the movement. “The assumption that police were needed to protect folks in their expression of free speech is a farce.”

In the course of defending Garza, Gladden asked who made the lockboxes. The protesters identified a man they only knew as “Butch.” He and two friends persuaded the assembly to let them buy the materials for the lockboxes, Gladden said.

“They solicited money to go to Lowe’s,” he said. “They then built them at home and came back with change and receipts and the devices.”

Mannix defended the officers’ actions.

“If a predetermination had been made that type of device was going to be used, the involved officers almost have a responsibility to ensure the safety of protesters and first responders by ensuring that the device used isn’t booby-trapped or difficult to defeat,” Mannix said.

But Jim Dozier, a criminal justice professor at Sam Houston State University and former director of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education, said having the police officers manufacture the devices was risky.

“It doesn’t seem very wise without a plan,” he said. “How did you plan to track them? How did you plan to keep control of them?”

Cortez said Butch was well-known within the Occupy movement. “People liked him,” he said. “He was a personable guy.” Cortez also said he recalled Butch asking him several times “when we were going to stop debating and start taking more action.”

Gladden described a long sleuthing process that used social media to identify Butch. That effort began with an anonymous email to an Occupy Austin member from someone who said that Butch was a former high school classmate of his wife’s.

They then tracked him to Round Rock and, finally, using a high school yearbook photo, identified him as Dowell and discovered he was an Austin police officer.

Original Article by By Tony Plohetski and Eric Dexheimer of The Austin American-Statesman appears here.

Occupy Memories…. OCCUPY WITH ALOHA: Makana at the APEC Dinner, Hawaii

Makana tells the FULL STORY as well as sings the full version of the song, “We Are The Many.”

Makana’s guitar tech shot this with a camera phone during his performance for the World Leaders Dinner at APEC, which was hosted by the First Family.

Makana wore an “Occupy with Aloha” t-shirt under his black blazer and sang his newest song, “We are the Many,” an anthem of sorts for Occupy protestors.

He had to be extremely discreet as Secret Service had warned those on site that any phones used to capture photography or video would be confiscated. Since the technician has a guitar tuner app on the phone they were able to justify having it out, but grabbing video was not easy. They were under constant surveillance. Makana likes to have video of his every performance saying, “It’s my art and my right.”

About an hour into his set of generally ambient guitar music and Hawaiian tunes, he felt inspired to share some songs that resonated with the significance of the occasion.

He sang a few verses from “Kaulana Na Pua” (a famous Hawaiian protest song in honor of the anniversary of our Queen’s passing), then segued into Bob Dylan’sAll Along the Watchtower,” Sting’s “Fragile,” and finally his newest song “We Are The Many.”

Makana’s goal was not to disturb the guests in an offensive fashion but rather to subliminally fill their ears and hearts with a message that might be more effectively received in a subconscious manner. He sweetly sang lines like “You enforce your monopolies with guns/ While sacrificing our daughters and sons/ But certain things belong to everyone/ Your thievery has left the people none.” The event protocol was such that everyone there kept their expressions quite muffled. Now and then Makana would get strange, befuddled stares from Heads of State. It was a very quiet room with no waiters; only myself, the sound techs, and the leaders of almost half the world’s population.

If he had chosen to disrupt the dinner and force my message I would have been stopped short. He instead chose to deliver an extremely potent message in a polite manner for a prolonged interval.

I dedicate this action to those who would speak truth to power but were not allowed the opportunity.

The lyrics include, “Ye come here gather ’round the stage; The time has come for us to voice our rage.”

The morning before the performance, Makana said he was initially afraid about singing the piece, but decided to do it anyway because he believes APEC’s leaders are not representing common people.

“It was my message that they are occupying Hawaii right now and they need to do it with aloha and not just say it,” he said. “I don’t personally feel they’ve done that. They are not representing the people they purport to represent.”

http://MakanaMusic.com
http://youtube.com/MakanaVideos
http://yeslab.org/APEC

Occupy Answers NYSE

Occupy Wall Street gathers on the steps of Federal Hall to counter the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange with “the People’s Gong.” Police make several arrests and attempt to prevent media from documenting them.

A Traitor in their midst – Members of Anonymous/Lulzsec arrested

After months of attacking websites of the FBI, CIA, and Sony Pictures, federal agents arrested members of the hacker groups Lulzsec and Anonymous.  

Acting on information leaked by the group’s leader, Hector Xavier Mensegu, who went by the codename Sabu and had been working with the federal government for months.

Sabu, a 28-year old unemployed father of two, lived in a Lower East Side housing project, which served as the nerve center for a vast network of computer hackers numbering in the thousands and operating around the world. His primary role was to identify weak spots for the hackers to target and then spread that information.

After Sabu was unmasked by the FBI last June he was forced to leak information to the federal government or face jail time himself, after pleading guilty to charges on August 15.

“They caught him and he was secretly arrested and now works for the FBI,” a source close to Sabu told FoxNews.com. – International Business Times

LulzSec is allegedly responsible for billions of dollars in damage to governments, international banks and corporations through their coordinated cyber-attacks.

Occupy Homes Buys Time, Gets Jury Trial for Foreclosure Case

Embattled North Minneapolis homeowner Monique White had her day in court Monday morning, and faced the possibility of being evicted from her house this week. But apparent last-minute jockeying between her defense team and attorneys for Freddie Mac postponed her hearing until Friday when she’ll face a jury trial. The postponement, and potential for a settlement, was a small victory for White, her legal team led by Rachel E. B. Lang of the National Lawyer’s Guild and state representative Bobby Joe Champion (DFL, District 58B), and a team of activists from Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) and Occupy Homes. White, a single African-American mother who works two jobs, including the nightshift at a North Minneapolis liquor store, invited Occupy activists into her foreclosed home early last November to fight off eviction.

She and South Minneapolis ex-Marine Bobby Hull (who won his home with a renegotiated mortgage last month) have become pinnacles in the burgeoning Occupy Homes movement and have garnered attention from national media. Freddie Mac moved to foreclose on White after she fell behind in paying her mortgage, which was previously controlled by U.S. Bank. Occupy activists have targeted both Freddie Mac and U.S. Bank with their campaign in recent months, claiming that the financial institutions that were bailed out by the federal government should give homeowners a second chance too.

Approximately 70 activists filled a housing courtroom in the Hennepin County Government Center Monday morning in solidarity with Monique White. They carried red and white roses (“red representing our love for Monique, white representing our hope for a settlement,” said Occupy organizer Nick Espinosa) and raised their right fists into the air as the court was called to order. But the activists remained silent and peaceful as the proceedings were quickly delayed until Friday. “Today is a day that should not be happening,” NOC organizer Steve Fletcher addressed a rally before the court hearing.

“Today is a day that we’ve been trying to avoid for a long time. It’s also a day like any other day. Because in Monique White’s zip code, this has happened twice a day for six years. This has to change. This can’t keep happening twice a day. We can’t keep taking away families’ homes. And if it’s happening this often, there’s a problem with the system and the system needs to change.” Last Friday, the Minnesota Attorney General‘s Office encouraged Freddie Mac to work out a deal with Monique White, but the lender has yet to comply. Over the weekend Congressman Keith Ellison released a statement in solidarity with the embattled homeowner: ?I encourage Bank of America and Freddie Mac to act in good faith and negotiate a solution that works well for all parties and allows Monique and her children to keep their home.? Meanwhile, state senator Scott Dibble and state representative Karen Clark (both DFL) have sponsored a people’s bailout bill, which calls for a two-year moratorium on home foreclosures in Minnesota.

A much anticipated hearing will take place Wednesday at noon at the state capitol in St. Paul. And Monique White remains at the heart of a larger political battle that is escalating in Minnesota and nationwide.

Anger Against MN Welfare Reduction Bill Erupts In “Mic Check”

The “Occupy Wall Street” style of amplifying the public?s voice was used to disrupt and express displeasure over Minnesota legislation opponents say is an attack on the poor.

The Minnesota House Health and Human Services Reform Committee met on February 22, 2012, to review and pass three bills restricting welfare.

Representative Daudt?s bill, HF2080, received the most complaints. This bill reduced life-time coverage from a maximum of 60 months to 36 months. It required applicant paid for background checks for drug convictions, reduced exit level from 115% of poverty to 100% of poverty and reduced sanctions from 7 to 3 offenses.

How much money would this save? Legislators don?t know. There was no fiscal note on the savings projected.

Opponents argued that this bill attacks primarily children and and makes the poor scapegoats.

The expenses represent .5% of the state budget. The speakers objected to the focus of all three bills considered for attacking the poor while doing nothing to increase jobs or other programs to get people out of poverty.

Representative Patti Fritz, DFL, HD 26B, said, “I’m stunned… we should be looking for ways to feed the poor, not take food from the mouths of their children. I’m disgusted with this bill. It does more harm than I could ever imagine.”

As the committee moved to vote, protestors “Mic Checked” the room repeating chants of disapproval of the bill. The bill was passed with a voice vote as the protests continued.