Occupy MN gets law enforcement OK for occupation of Government Plaza

In a series of meetings held over the past couple of days, Occupy MN organizers have received tentative approval for their plans to camp out in the Hennepin County Government Center plaza starting tomorrow at 9 a.m.

The plaza is public property, but organizers still met with the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department and the Minneapolis Police Department to discuss their plans. The protestors are converging in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement going on in New York City, and could be there for days if not weeks.

For now, at least, it appears all parties are playing it Minnesota-nice.

Occupy Wall Street has been raging on for three weeks, drawing an estimated 20,000 attendees. Solidarity occupations have popped up in Chicago, San Francisco and Boston, and barely two weeks ago, a group of student in Duluth conceptualized Occupy MN.

The original posting to the Occupy MN website praises the New York protesters for "demonstrating against corporate greed and the injustices that we face as the 99%," referring to the 99 percent of people they claim are ruled by the other 1 percent. They announced initial plans to occupy the Fed, but later changed the target to the Government Plaza.

Attendance estimates for the event have varied wildly from 200 people to 1,000, though 972 have RSVP'd so far on the Occupy MN Facebook page. Protestors will converge at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning to set up and do workshops, at 5 p.m. there will be an official kick-off rally, and at 7 p.m. the first meeting of the Occupy MN general assembly will take place.

The Hennepin County Sheriff has jurisdiction over the Government Plaza itself, while the Minneapolis police are of course responsible for downtown streets. In meetings with the sheriff, Occupy MN was told they will not need to obtain permits to be there, nor will they be removed so long as they keep things nice and legal. While the sheriff is OK with overnight guests in sleeping bags, things may get a little sticky when it comes to the group's plan to erect a tent city. The sheriff is also iffy about a bank of port-o-potties. Another meeting to iron out these issues is scheduled for this morning.

But so far, so good. Sheriff Rich Stanek was even quoted calling the occupiers "nice people."

A lot can happen in a short amount of time and Occupy MN is in it for the long haul. According to Osha Karow, one of the lead organizers, they do not plan on leaving until Occupy Wall Street's general assembly has had their demands met. We'll keep you updated as the protest continues to evolve.

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