Occupy MN: Hennepin County enacts new restrictions on protesters
|The county is no longer tolerating Occupy MN's expansive presence in Government Plaza.|
"It is just the evolution as we get ready for winter," says County Administrator Richard Johnson.
Winterization of the plaza will begin on Friday at 7 a.m., when county workers will be blowing out the sprinkler systems and shutting down all outside water access. But Johnson says the procedure also provides a convenient time to address other problems the county has with the Occupy MN set-up on both the north and south sides of the Government Center.
A number of new restrictions will become effective Friday, including the consolidation of all of Occupy's possessions in one designated area on either the west or east side of North Plaza. Any protester possessions that are left unattended will be confiscated. All sleeping materials must be stored under a tarp in the South Plaza. The number of port-o-potties will be reduced to three. Finally, non-county signs or posters will not be allowed to be hung anywhere in the plaza.
|If county commissioners have their way, it's lights out for Tent City.|
Apparently, the argument over whether the county will allow tents in the plaza is over.
"There's risk of hypothermia and frostbite and those kinds of things," says Johnson. "First of all we don't want that to happen to people. Secondly, we're worried about what kind of liability we have on our property."
Asked if sheriff's deputies will actually arrest protesters who choose to sleep in a snow drift, Johnson said only, "We will move them along if they decide to stay."
Occupy MN is still formulating its response, but a spokesperson said they are looking into possible indoor locations. Organizer Nick Espinosa says he and a contingent of occupiers are going to set up tents in the yard of a foreclosed home next Tuesday, to defend its owners from eviction, but that his event does not represent a total shift in sleeping arrangements for Occupy MN.
"The plan is simply to expand from the plaza to include at least one home, for now, as part of our occupation," Espinosa says.
Read the entire county memo here.
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