Occupy MN to rebuild tent city on US Bank plaza [VIDEO]
The original Tent City, in its fleeting glory.
On Saturday, ten transparent pup tents sailed a sea of Occupy MN protesters from the South side of the Government Plaza to the North, in open defiance of Sheriff Rich Stanek's ban on structures or tents in the park. Eight conventional camping tents soon sprung up around the clear ones, and protesters linked arms in a protective circle around the new "Tent City," chanting and making speeches long into the evening.
By morning, no evidence of Tent City remained after a raid by sheriff's deputies. But occupiers say they are ready to rebuild.
Occupy MN celebrated its one week anniversary last Friday and with the weather turning chilly, a subset of the group decided to pitch tents on Saturday afternoon. Sheriff Stanek refused to allow any type of structure in the plaza and made noise in the hours leading up to the demonstration that tenters would be arrested.
As Tent City was going up, it wasn't just the three sheriff's deputies with recording equipment who watched with chagrin.
"We've had a good relationship with law enforcement so far," said April Lukes-Streich, one of the Occupy MN organizers. "I'm anxious this peaceful but aggressive action will hurt that relationship."
Soon word came that battalion of deputies would arrive to dismantle the structures and possibly make arrests.
Tents enter the plaza.
The five minute mark came and went, and as night fell, the crowd began to dwindle. Finally, at about 1 a.m., roughly 20 deputies emerged from the Government Center and confronted the protesters. Two concentric circles of protesters hastily linked arms around three of the tents, but deputies physically removed enough people to get to the structures, and take them away. No one, however, was arrested.
Nick Lambert, one of the occupiers who put up his own tent, says he spent the night on the grass afterward, and thinks the sheriff waited until the media left to act.
"Being able to set up tents is not why we're there," he says. "We're all there for a lot of reasons. That's mostly a necessity so we can survive the winter."
Now, occupiers have been told they can start picking up their confiscated tents and have decided to try a new tack -- resurrecting Tent City on the US Bank plaza a block away. The idea is to call attention to the bank's role in the foreclosure crisis, but on a practical level it also puts the structures in the Minneapolis Police Department's jurisdiction. Occupiers are hoping for a more sympathetic reception from PD, though they are calling it a "soft action." They will voluntarily take the tents down if asked. The colonization of US Bank is tentatively scheduled for 11:30 a.m. tomorrow.
Check out some footage of the tent building on Saturday below, including some heated argument within the 99 percent and the police presence by light of day:
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