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Occupy MN will defy new Hennepin County protest restrictions

A countdown is on to this evening, when Hennepin County officials have set the deadline for disallowing sleeping, signs, and portable toilets in Government Plaza, effectively ending the "occupation" part of the Occupy MN movement.

But the protesters aren't going without a fight. Two fights, actually -- one in court and one on the plaza.

"We're trying to get as many people out as possible to achieve a critical mass to make sure we keep sleeping there if we choose to," says spokeswoman April Lukes-Streich.

She says the group has a rally planned for 5 p.m. and that the occupiers will not follow any of the county's new rules. She says they hope to keep as many people as possible as late as they can, to monitor any attempt at enforcement on the part of the county.

The last time the county tried to take down the group's posters, one Occupy MN participant dove in front of a sign and refused to move. Rather than arrest him, plaza security and sheriff's deputies backed off the ban on signs, which stayed up ever since.

In addition to rule flouting, the occupiers are collaborating with the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Executive director Charles Samuelson says they are poised to file an injunction against the county, though that is still in the works. The court filing has seven plaintiffs -- no small feat for a movement that prides itself on being leaderless -- though their identities are currently being withheld.

As the day creeps closer to an end, it appears that a face-off is inevitable. Stay tuned.

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