Occupy MN protesters barred from sleeping in Government Plaza starting Monday
An occupier gets in Sheriff Rich Stanek's face outside the commissioner's meeting Tuesday.
Hennepin County commissioners voted unanimously in favor of enacting yet another raft of stricter rules on Occupy MN protesters camping out in Government Plaza.
According to the new restrictions, no one will be allowed to sleep in the plaza starting on Monday. For the past month, occupiers in sleeping bags have been spending the night on the plaza's grassy knoll, under the Government Center skyways, and on benches.
That will come to an end on Monday. Or, perhaps the fight is just beginning.
In a press release, the county listed its new rules, which also incorporate some of the same restrictions issued on November 2. Just as before, the county will not permit signs to be hung in the plaza, the portable toilets are out, and it will confiscate any unattended possessions.
The major new provision says no sleeping will be allowed in the plaza at all, effective Monday. However, the release says assembling and demonstrating is allowed any time of day.
"Until now, the county has never allowed, nor has there ever been a long-term 'occupation' of the plazas," the release reads. "This was a new and unexpected use of the plazas, which are not designed for camping or long-term occupation."
The last time the county tried to take down Occupy MN's signs, protesters risked arrest to stop them, and Hennepin County Sheriff's deputies backed off. The local chapter of the ACLU also entered the fray, warning that the county's actions were infringing on First Amendment rights. Now, the ACLU is looking into obtaining an injunction to stop the new rules from going into effect before the weekend.
Things are heating up, just as temperatures in the plaza are about to plummet to bone-chilling lows.
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