Melissa Hill settles lawsuit against Sheriff Richard Stanek for $15,000

Categories: Protest News

Thumbnail image for melissa hill mug.jpg
The booking photo from the arrest that started it all.
Occupy MN's first arrest has resulted in its first financial settlement.

Melissa Hill, a well-known local activist and "Kitten for Sheriff" founder, sued Sheriff Richard Stanek after he had her trespassed from the Hennepin County Government Center Plaza and then arrested for attending an Occupy MN rally there.

Now, as a result of the lawsuit, the county is paying Hill a tidy sum and changing its trespassing policy.

On October 13, while at an Occupy MN event, Hill was given a notice of trespass by a security officer, barring her from the Government Center plaza. The ban was supposed to be in effect for a year. It seems to stem from political slogans Hill had written on the plaza in chalk.

Two days later, Hill was standing on the sidewalk just outside of the plaza during a tent-building action. She was there as a "legal observer" when she was approached by Hennepin County security officers and told that she was violating her trespassing order. She was arrested, the first of many Occupy MN protesters to spend the night in jail.

Melissa Hill arrested.JPG
Hill in cuffs back in October.

Since then, other occupiers have also received similar trespass notices.

Hill sued Sheriff Stanek and the officers who arrested her in early December. The filing claimed that Hill was never told what crime had earned her the order in the first place, and that it violated her freedom of speech. It also said that her inability to contest the trespass was a violation of due process.

Hill agreed dismiss the complaint against Stanek and the officers, in order to settle with Hennepin County. The provisions just went into effect. As of now, Hill's trespassing order has been lifted. She will collect a lump sum of $15,000. And the trespassing process has changed -- now, if the county wants someone barred from the property for longer than 45 days, that person can appeal and must get a hearing within 10 days. If the hearing official agrees with the trespass order, they must issue a written decision justifying their action.

Hill says she's pleased with the settlement mainly because it allows her to go to the government center for non-Occupy business -- to the courts, DMV, and the like.

"When they were issuing those against people at Occupy MN it inconveniences people," says Hill. "Trespassing someone for three days is one thing, but trespassing someone for 365 days -- it's a whole other issue."

The one issue she couldn't get the county to budge on is the sidewalk chalking. She's agreed to cut it out.

"They don't like chalking at all," she says.

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21 comments
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JL30
JL30

Will she share her winnings with the rest of her occupy buddies?  Probably not.

J.r. Roloff
J.r. Roloff

This is the correct thing to happen here.  Part of the point of the #Occupy protests is simply to HAVE the protest:  To say that the Government does not get to tell The People under what conditions they may protest or how long the protest will continue.  As long as the protest is peaceful and no property is being damaged, Government should simply listen.  It doesn't have to act, but it does need to listen to people calling for redress of grievances.

Gannieca
Gannieca

a much deserved settlement but it would have been nice to see Melissa school the Sheriff in 1st amendment rights and the Constitution.. (and common sense).   You deserve much more than that amount Melissa for fighting for democracy and for the 99%

DamOTclese2
DamOTclese2

Amazing. The Wall Street corporate fascists and their theofascist pig thugs really have zero clue.

john
john

You know they did a survey at occupy LA to see what the jobless rate was among the protesters. 20%. 80% employment. Over the average but obviously those without jobs would more easily be able to sleep in the park. I work two jobs, 50 hours a wee and lived at government plaza for over a month. It wasn't always easy, sometimes I slept in the cold, sometimes in the rain, but always sure of what I was doing, always sure of right and wrong. Rather than throwing out random character assumptions try debating issues. The country is in trouble, get off your ass and help fix it or get out of our way.

Fed Up
Fed Up

While she is doing our supposed "work"...I am actually at work earning $'s. Resulting in paying taxes to support people like her, among others, who have nothing better to do than complain about how bad they have it. Hey users and takers...not everyone is whining....Some, if not most of us are contributing while you benefit. 

Kimd
Kimd

Agreed Seed!

Fed up: we all work, whether we get paid, get underpaid, raising kids (very unpaid job), volunteering. Perhaps you should fed up on the way the system is screwing everyone. Unless you are winning because of the system. BTW the lower class, low paid workers, poor people have been getting screwed longer before the economy collapsed.

Fed Up with Fed Up
Fed Up with Fed Up

Your assumptions are quite rampant, which makes your post laughable.

scott sheeley
scott sheeley

Least she is standing up for her rights instead of hiding  her head in the sand. That's the problem people whine all day long but never do anything. You should be thanking her for doing your work

Bob
Bob

Nice, my tax dollar to another loser

Kimd65
Kimd65

Perhaps you didn't really read the article correctly. All of those things that the police force did should have never happened in the first play. YOU SHOULD BE ANGERED AT THE SYSTEM. She (we) would not have to sue if THEY STOP VIOLATING THE PEOPLE.Besides living here allows us to bring up issues that are wrong (psst that includes you).

Do you call Banks and Corporations Losers when they steal ours (and yours) hard earn monies and ours (and yours) tax monies that we (and u) pay into?

taypayer too
taypayer too

no matter how you feel... please don't call people whom you don't know losers... that just shows your character

Fed up with Occupy protests
Fed up with Occupy protests

Melissa needs to think about getting a real job and Occupying her time with something that is actually of value...versus making a fool of herself and making herself a pain in rear to everyone else.

Gannieca
Gannieca

I don't see that the article said she didn't have a job.  Many of us who have jobs were down at the Occupation.  How incredibly ignorant it is to think people participating in the occupation wouldn't have jobs

Kimd
Kimd

Really? In this economy? Not that you or others need to know about people's job status. Perhaps you and those others that keep using this lame quip, get to know folks before you and others start attacking people.

Seed
Seed

So do you mind if I ask what your job is and what great "value" your contributions have made?

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