Local News

Nine charged in 'Occupy' foreclosure protest at Raleigh home

Posted April 9, 2012 5:49 p.m. EDT
Updated April 10, 2012 10:54 a.m. EDT

— Raleigh police arrested nine people Monday who were accused of trespassing at a foreclosed Raleigh home during a protest over predatory lending by Wall Street banks.

The protest was planned by the Occupy Raleigh and Occupy Greensboro groups.

Charles Ian Hancock, Maureen Elaine Kessler, Rafael Estrada Maya, Christopher Stella, Elizabeth Zykowski, Kurt Zehnder, Ryan Thompson, Rachel Powell and Margaret Schucker were all taken to the Wake County jail and charged with second-degree trespassing.

The former homeowner, Nikki Shelton, bought the house at 2633 Pebble Meadow Lane in 2006, she said.

Police spokesman Jim Sughrue said the house was padlocked by the Wake County Sheriff's Office in April 2011 and that Shelton was notified over the weekend that, since it had been one year, all of her belongings had to be removed.

"Yesterday was the last day they said I could retrieve my belongings or it would be considered trash," Shelton said. 

The Occupy groups said they planned the rally because of evidence of robo-signing – an illegal procedure by mortgage industry employees to initiate improper foreclosures – in Shelton's case.

"Wall Street finance tanked the economy and made so many people jobless," said Jeff Warren, a member of Occupy Greensboro.

Protesters said they entered the home to help Shelton retrieve her belongings.

"We have to push the envelope, we have to push the limits so that things then go to court," said Occupy Greensboro member Audrey Berlowitz.

It wasn't clear whether authorities had substantiated claims that Shelton was the victim of robo-signing.

Sughrue said that officers knew about the planned protest at the home and performed a security check around 9 a.m.

At that time, they found several people had broken into the home and several others were on the property.

Around 2:15 p.m., after confirming that the current property owner had not authorized protesters to be on the property, officers proceeded with ending the demonstration inside and outside the house.

After being warned that any demonstrator who did not move to the sidewalk would be arrested, all but five obeyed officer instructions. Those five were arrested, Sughrue said.

A similar announcement was made inside the house. All but two people evacuated. 

Shortly before 7 p.m., two men arrived at the home and disregarded the "No Trespassing" signs posted on the property, Sughrue said.

Those four people were also arrested.