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St. Paul: Foreclosure protester’s role in law firm scuffle disputed at trial

Fellow political activists described Anthony David Newby in a Ramsey County courtroom as calm, peaceful and level-headed.

But prosecutors with the city of St. Paul have accused him of hurting a female employee at the St. Paul law firm of Reiter Schiller during a protest. He is on trial this week in Ramsey County District Court on misdemeanor charges of fifth-degree assault and trespassing.

Newby, 38, of Minneapolis, helped organize an Occupy Homes MN action March 1. The organization works to stop foreclosures in Minnesota.

What was planned as an attempt to talk with attorneys at Reiter Schiller about the case of homeowner Monique White ended with the accidental injury of a firm employee, protesters said.

Paralegal Denise Reinke, 45, fell outside the front door of the firm at 25 N. Dale St. She said Newby banged on the door, then, as another protester yanked the door open, Newby grabbed her and “pulled her out of the doorway, then pushed her to the side, causing her to fall down the steps,” according to the criminal complaint. Reinke injured her knee.

Newby then yelled, “We’re in! We’re in!” the complaint alleged.

Newby’s fellow protesters described the incident in starkly different terms during testimony Wednesday, Jan. 30. Organizer Nicholas Espinosa testified that he had been involved in an estimated 50 to 100 actions with Newby. Some became tense.

“He’s always maintained a very cool, calm, collected stature in these moments,” Espinosa said

of Newby.

Newby was chosen to be one of the protesters to approach the front door of the firm for a discussion “because we feel like he’s the most calm and able to reason with people,” Espinosa testified.

There was no plan to use any force during the protest, Espinosa said.

Newby appeared to be having a cordial conversation at the door with Reinke when another man ran up and pulled the door open.

Espinosa said he believes the woman “came charging out into Anthony,” who put his hands up and stepped back.

Another protester, Elizabeth Fasching, said Reinke “came out with the momentum of the door. … Her hand was on the door because she was trying to hold it closed.”

Newby has a reputation for conducting himself professionally, Fasching said. She disputed the allegation that he grabbed Reinke.

The man who pulled the door open also was called to the stand by defense attorney Jordan Kushner. Jordon Ash said there was a person at the door blocking entrance, and the protesters wanted to get in. So he decided to act.

“If I had known that somebody was going to get hurt when I pulled the door open, I wouldn’t have done it,” Ash said.

He contrasted his own behavior with that of Newby’s.

“I’ve never heard him yell, ever,” Ash said. “He’s very different from me. … He thinks before he acts.”

The protesters targeted the law firm because it is legal counsel for the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., or Freddie Mac. The agency was named in a lawsuit by White, who fought the foreclosure of her North Minneapolis home. White eventually was able to keep her home.

Newby is executive director of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, a Minneapolis nonprofit that works on foreclosure prevention, education and justice issues, according to its website.

Emily Gurnon can be reached at 651-228-5522. Follow her at

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