Williams' supporters to hold press conference this morningby Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio,
Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Supporters of a Minneapolis woman who has refused to leave her foreclosed house are holding a press conference this morning to discuss developments in the months-long foreclosure ordeal.
Rosemary Williams, 60, spoke publicly Saturday from her front porch, vowing to remain in the house despite being ordered to leave Friday by Hennepin County Sheriff's deputies.
"We can't give up, that's the bottom line," Williams told a crowd of supporters, many of whom slept in the house Friday night. "My mother lived through segregation, and she told me to never give up."
Williams has been fighting eviction for months, and last week a deal that would have allowed her to stay in her south Minneapolis home fell through.
Sheriff's deputies arrived at the property Friday, and ordered Williams to leave. Private locksmiths hired by GMAC Mortgage then locked the doors to the house and left the scene.
Shortly afterward, a group of supporters broke into the house and reopened the doors. About 20 people slept at the home Friday night, and have vowed to remain and engage in civil disobedience if law enforcement officials arrive to remove Williams from the premises.
"We won't be leaving today or the next day," Mick Kelly, a supporter of Williams, said over the weekend. "We will leave when justice is done and not a second before."
Williams and her supporters said they want GMAC Mortgage to restart negotiations to modify her mortgage.
The sheriff's department has said that any enforcement action would need to be taken by the Minneapolis Police Department. Supporters said police officers stopped by briefly Friday night to ask Williams to move her van, but then left without asking anyone to leave the property.
Minneapolis police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer did not indicate when his department would take action.
"If the police department is dispatched to a trespassing issue, we will address it," Palmer said Friday. He declined further comment.
Williams' house is owned by Aurora, a mortgage servicing division of Lehman Brothers, according to GMAC Mortgage spokeswoman Jeannine Bruin. Bruin confirmed that the investor asked GMAC to follow through with the eviction proceedings. GMAC Mortgage has been servicing the mortgage on behalf of Aurora.
"We would say that anyone who is in the home at this point is in violation of no-trespassing orders," Bruin said Friday. "It's unfortunate we weren't able to reach an agreement that would have allowed Williams to remain in her home. It was the investor's decision to proceed with the eviction."
Williams has lived on the same block for 55 years. She and her mother purchased her current home 26 years ago. When her mother died six years ago, Williams refinanced twice into an adjustable rate mortgage.
When the monthly payments shot up from $1,200 to $2,200, she could not afford to pay, Williams said. Her home was sold at a sheriff's auction in September 2008, and she received notice that she needed to vacate the property by March 30.
Since then, Williams and her supporters have led protests, packed courtrooms, and encouraged other foreclosed homeowners to remain in their homes.
Elizabeth Baier, based in Rochester, covers news in southeastern Minnesota for MPR News.