Hawthorne Housing Director Jeff Skrenes sent me some info about the planned "housing takeover" actions talked about so much lately by North Minneapolis neighborhood groups and police.
Furthermore, there are chapters of ACORN which support such actions...just not in Minnesota, not yet. What can you say? Politics is always messy, but radical politics makes regular politics look...neat and orderly.
Here's Jeff's informative commentary...
Recently this blog has mentioned "house takeovers" and attributed them to the local branch of ACORN. I want to clear up some misunderstandings that many people, including some Hawthorne residents and the police have had about such a link.
It is true that some chapters of ACORN across the country have engaged in taking over houses. However, much of that has been done when a family lost their home to foreclosure and the redemption period ended, leaving them with nowhere to go. In these cases, the family has simply remained in the house beyond when the law states they should have left. Minnesota ACORN has not engaged in simply placing homeless people in vacant houses, a la Cheri Honkala and her Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign.
The misperception comes because the PPEHRC--wait, that doesn't even make a good acronym, and bad acronyms really bother me...can't we come up with a better one, like the Campaign Regarding All Poor People's Individial Economic Rights, perhaps? I like that better---PPEHRC supports ACORN's protests at Hennepin County calling for a stop to foreclosures, evictions, sheriff sales, etc.
So once they got lumped together on that support, rumors spread that ACORN was also endorsing the CRAPPIER campaign as well. I can certainly relate. Before I knew anything about CRAPPIER, I was asked to speak at a community forum on the foreclosure crisis in south Minneapolis. I went and spoke, and then afterwards, CRAPPIER people asked me to attend a protest against US Bank because US Bank was getting federal bailout money. I declined based on the fact that CRAPPIER had no realistic set of demands and had made no attempt to sit down with US Bank representatives anyway.
Even so, my presence and some quotes were mentioned in a local southside newspaper that was reporting on the protest. An old colleague at US Bank called me up and wanted to know why I was doing this protest stuff when I know I can call him up anytime and US Bank is willing to talk about community issues. Like Lucy to Ricardo, I had some 'splainin' to do. Lesson learned - associate with CRAPPIER at your own risk.
So just to be clear, CRAPPIER supports ACORN, and not necessarily the other way around.
While I've got the floor, I want to say one more thing about the CRAPPIER idea of putting homeless people in vacant homes, and the idea that "God will turn on the utilities." You can rig stuff so that water illegally comes to the property; the "devil" did that before we foreclosed on 3024 6th in Hawthorne. But that's putting the bill on the rest of Minneapolis residents who have to pick up the tab. Same goes for splicing power lines, and anyone with enough know-how, and big muscles and the right wrench can turn on the gas. Everyone else pays for it when CRAPPIER people leech off the rest of us. What's worse, though is that the latter two, splicing electric lines and turning on the gas put people's lives at risk.
(Johnny Northside says: If they keep on doing this, people will die!)
Listen, because if they keep on doing this, I want it said that it was said here first by Jeff Skrenes: If you keep on this path, people will die. If you roll the dice enough times, you're bound to get snake eyes after a while.
(Johnny Northside says: No, worse! You're bound to crap out!)
The more this is done, the more likely that somebody's going to electrocute themselves, or hook up electricity to a place with shoddy wiring and start a fire, or hook up gas to a place with just ONE (or more) copper pipe missing that nobody caught, and then the family inside will get poisoned or the house or block will blow up. We are not just talking about something that Hawthorne residents don't want. We are not just talking about something that is going to be bad for home sales. We are talking about blatant disregard for human life.
(Johnny says: That's debatable, and the other side has a good response that surely involves people trying to live under bridges in cold weather)
And if/when that does happen, you can bet they won't accept responsibility. They'll try and lay the blame on a bank, or Pawlenty, or the city of Minneapolis, or capitalism--anybody except themselves. That is what makes the simplistic match of homeless people and vacant houses a truly CRAPPIER idea.
(Johnny says: Jeff, I'm disappointed you didn't use your line about people who don't wash their hair for weeks at a time because they believe it gives them special super powers to fight corporate hegemony. Also, I'd like to point out that clear and simple lines can't be drawn between ACORN and Cheri Honkala's group. There are probably more than a few individuals who are members of both groups, or run in the same circles.
I'm happy to print Jeff's commentary, but I'm also open to printing other commentaries. Also, I saw Cheri Honkala in action during RNC 2008--actually, I even shot a lot of videotape and posted it on YouTube under my user name JohnnyHoffa--and I will say that Cheri Honkala has guts. She reminds me of Mitch Snyder of the Community for Creative Chaos before Mitch went and offed himself)