PHILADELPHIA — Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and her running mate were arrested Wednesday after they led a three-hour sit-in at a bank to protest housing foreclosures.
The peaceful arrests came after about 50 party supporters demonstrated outside the downtown Philadelphia offices of Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored mortgage lender.
Stein, vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala and three others will face charges of defiant trespassing, police said.
Stein, a Harvard-educated physician, said before she was led away that she had never been arrested before. But she said people need to fight back against "a political system bought and paid for by Wall Street."
"These are truly extraordinary times," she told The Associated Press. "We are all very much at risk."
Stein and Honkala first led a rally that included several city residents struggling to keep their homes. After demanding that Fannie Mae officials meet with two of them, demonstrators tried to enter the office building.
Security guards denied them entry through the main doors. Some then tried to access the building through an adjacent bank; after being thwarted by security again, they staged a sit-in.
Police later negotiated for the two homeowners to meet with Fannie Mae, with mixed results.
One woman, who has been sleeping in her car since being evicted, said little good came of her meeting. She declined to give her full name. The other homeowner, Rhonda Lancaster, expressed optimism about her battle to keep the house in which her family has lived for more than 35 years.
Still, Stein and others refused to leave the bank. Honkala, a longtime Philadelphia activist, said she would stay until the houses were returned to their owners.
Stein's "Green New Deal" platform aims to create sustainable local economies and reduce corporate power in politics. She is calling for a moratorium on foreclosures nationwide.
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