MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Police arrested five Occupy Homes MN protesters early Friday morning after they chained themselves together in a "sleeping dragon" device inside a south Minneapolis house that officers were attempting to evict.
Hennepin County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Lisa Kiava said the "sleeping dragon" device is a difficult to move object made of chains, PVC pipe, iron pipe, concrete, and duct tape. Protesters typically chain their hands together with the device, making it difficult for police to arrest or move them.
Police arrived to evict people from the house, located on the 4000 block of Cedar Avenue South, at 4 a.m., Kiava said. When officers arrived, they found the house's door heavily barricaded.
Police removed a door and made their way inside, where they found 12 people – none of which were occupants of the home. Seven agreed to leave, Kiava said, but five stayed, chained in the sleeping dragon.
Police trained to dissemble the sleeping dragon did so, and officers arrested the five people. Officers booked the five into the Hennepin County Jail for "probable cause gross obstruction of the legal process," Kiava said.
None were hurt in the process, Kiava said. However, protesters said they suffered minor injuries when officers removed them from the sleeping dragon using jackhammers and electric saws.
On April 26, Hennepin County District Court ordered the eviction of the house – an order that police had 30 days to comply with. Initially, police attempted to evict the house on Wednesday, but when they arrived at the house that afternoon, they found a large group of people – Occupy Homes MN protesters -- refusing to leave. The group, which police said were not residents of the house, barricaded themselves inside it.
Occupy protesters celebrated their stand Wednesday, saying in a press release that some 100 protesters had successfully defended the house from eviction.
In that release, protesters said they had been occupying the house, which belongs to the family of David Cruz, for three weeks.
During that initial eviction attempt, protesters said they tied themselves to structures in the housing using bike locks. After 30 minutes police retreated.
Protesters said the Cruz home went into foreclosure in 2011, when the family's bank (PNC) didn't accept an online mortgage payment. As punishment, the bank imposed a fine of two months payment. The family was unable to pay; thus the home went into foreclosure.
On Wednesday, protesters said the bank contacted them, asking for loan modification documents for the family. It is unclear, however, what came of that contact.
Protester Martha Ockenfels-Martinez said Occupy Homes wants the bank to negotiate a mortgage that allows the family to stay in their home.
"We'll do whatever it takes for them to come to the table," she said.
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