Minneapolis City Council considering anti-Occupy public plaza restrictions

barb johnson square.jpg
Johnson wants to restrict access to city plazas after midnight.
On May 2, the Minneapolis City Council will hold a public hearing on a proposed ordinance that would restrict access to city-controlled public plazas between midnight and 6 a.m.

The ordinance, originally introduced as a resolution by Council President Barb Johnson on April 13, is a response to the Occupy movement's re-occupation of Peavey Plaza on April 8. On that night, protestors set up tents in Peavey Plaza, then marched downtown. Twelve protestors were arrested, and one KSTP camera was destroyed.

In cases of late-night congregations or protests in city plazas, Johnson's ordinance would give police the power to arrest people for trespassing if they don't leave the property in a "reasonable amount of time." Johnson said the ordinance "mirrors what Hennepin County passed after their experience [last year] with Occupy on their plaza." The full text of the ordinance can be seen below.

A City Council committee gave the ordinance a tepid reception last week. According to a Minnesota Daily report, Councilwoman Betsy Hodges characterized the measure as a "solution in search of a problem."

"We have had sufficient regulation for years," Hodges said. "But I think it's not just unnecessary, actually, I think it's just wrong."

Her response echoes that of Councilman Cam Gordon, who wrote on his blog that the ordinance "isn't necessary, and it isn't a good idea, and it isn't right."

Gordon wrote:
cam gordon.jpg
It puts the City on the wrong side of civil liberties, including freedom of expression. Because any such move by the City will be viewed -- rightly -- by the Occupy movement as a direct attack on them, it positions the City on the side of the 1% against the 99%. It is clearly designed to send a message that Occupiers will be arrested, giving the MPD a green light (and proactive political cover) for more of the mass arrest events like we saw [April 8].
During yesterday's hearing, Occupy activist Osha Karrow pointed out that the ordinance would make life more difficult for Minneapolis's homeless, many of whom spend nights in public plazas regardless of what the Occupy movement is up to.

But Johnson is sticking to her guns.

"I'm concerned about public use in a city where we have 380,000 people that live here, 150,000 people that work in our downtown everyday and 32,000 people that live in our downtown," she said last week, adding, "when you have a city, you have to balance the interests of groups."

The May 2 public hearing will occur during another committee meeting. The full council could vote on the ordinance as soon as May 11.

Here's the full text of the proposed ordinance:
WHEREAS, the City of Minneapolis owns a number of public plaza, including but not limited to Peavey Plaza, Riverfront Plaza, Cedar-Riverside Plaza, Loring Greenway and Nicollet Mall (the "Plazas")'

WHEREAS, the City desires to protect and enhance public use and enjoyment of the Plazas as well as to protect public health and safety;

WHEREAS, the City further desires to coordinate uses of the Plazas granted by permit with the use of the plazas by individuals; and

WHEREAS, the City respects and desires to protect and enhance all lawful uses of the Plazas, including uses involving the exercise of first amendment rights;

Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved by the City Council of the City of Minneapolis:

That in addition to applicable state and federal laws and regulations and City ordinances and permits, use of the Plazas shall be subject to the following rules:

1. These rules shall apply to plazas owned or controlled by the City, including but not limited to: Peavey Plaza, Riverfront Plaza, Cedar-Riverside Plaza, Loring Greenway and Nicollet Mall (the "Plazas");

2. The Plazas shall be available for the use and enjoyment of the public between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 12:00 midnight. Outside of those hours, the Plazas shall be available only for the purpose of traveling through the plaza without delay;

3. Use of the Plazas for camping, sleeping or any living accommodation purposes is prohibited. This prohibition includes preparations to sleep such as setting down bedding or laying [sic] down on the ground for the purposes of sleeping;

4. Personal property or possessions may not be left unattended or stored on the Plazas. Any unattended or stored personal property or possessions may be removed pursuant to M.C.O. 427.100;

5. No portable toilets or cooking or fire building devices are allowed on the Plazas, except as specifically allowed in a permit issued under City ordinances subject to any conditions specified therein;

6. Any persons not in compliance with the above rules shall be provided a copy of the rules and given a reasonable amount of time to comply. If the person(s) have not complied with these rules after a reasonable amount of time has passed, they may be issued a written notice of trespass for the pertinent plaza by the chief of police or the chief's designee. The notice of trespass may not exceed one month. After being served with a notice of trespass, if a person remains on or is found on the pertinent plaza in violation of the notice of trespass, the person may be arrested for trespass.
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23 comments
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gannieca
gannieca

funny.  Barb didn't mention of Whereas Peavy Plaza shall be a place were county deputies can pick up people give them drugs and drop them off again. 

I wonder which City Council members support the DRE program.

Nachman
Nachman

The Occupy Movement has no right or authority turning any part of downtown or any of our parks into a rat and crime infested slum. Allowing a public area to be unilaterally taken by a self-entitled mob is an indication of a loss of order. This loss of order is also exemplified by allowing panhandlers to solicit at intersections for drug money, cash to buy alcohol, or fraud. The problem of robberies and mobs of blacks rioting downtown is only another indication of a breakdown of civilized behavior. It's part of the same problem in varying degrees. 

gannieca
gannieca

seems like this breakdown was fuel by Suburban sheriff Deputies and state Troops.

http://blogs.citypages.com/blo...  I would like to know how much and for how long Dakota County sheriff deputies and State troops have been giving drugs to downtown, especially at peavy plaza.

Shhh
Shhh

 Furthermore I'm confused when your own post above (Red herring) tears this post of yours to shreds.

Nachman
Nachman

My point: the Occupy Movement, believing they can unilaterally take over public areas for their exclusive use is one contributing factor to the breakdown of public order in downtown Minneapolis.

Nachman
Nachman

Government Plaza between the Hennepin County offices and the rail station. It was "occupied", preventing the public from full access of the facility.

Anthonasty Ross
Anthonasty Ross

"unilaterally take over public areas for their exclusive use"Please site one incident where Occupy Mpls denied or excluded any group or person from the use of public property.

Shhh
Shhh

 Setting up tents with the intent to protest has NOTHING to do with "those blacks."  You are obviously a racist idiot, so keep your stupid opinions to yourself.

Nachman
Nachman

To reiterate:

1. The Occupy Movement has no right or authority turning any part of downtown or any of our parks into a rat and crime infested slum.2. Allowing a public area to be unilaterally taken by a self-entitled mob is an indication of a loss of order.3. Allowing panhandlers to solicit money for drugs, alcohol and fraud indicates the public that government has lost its ability to maintain public order at its most passive, basic level.4. The objective fact there are robberies and mobs of blacks rioting downtown and in other public places is an indication of a breakdown of civilized behavior.

Objective fact is not opinion, it is objective fact. If you cannot provide a legitimate counter argument other than engaging in an ad hominem attack ("...racist idiot...stupid opinions..."), there is no point wasting bandwidth.

Will
Will

The resolution states its intention to preserve peoples' first amendment rights:

"...or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

If the protestors method of exercising their right to peaceably assemble and petition the government is setting up camp, then this resolution is abridging that right.  Don't try to pull some bullshit Orwellian doublespeak on us, Barb Johnson.

Greg
Greg

Nice idea,,when you exercize your civil rights, If someone doesn't agree with your cause, they can have you arrested. This old bag should be arrested for violating the civil rights of others.

George
George

What I Really Want to Know is if Barb wrote this herself, had a staffer write it, or did a 'friendly' outside group/agency/person provide the verbiage.....

What
What

 It'd be nice if she'd stop being such a tool.

effeminate dad
effeminate dad

Anybody impeding business should be dealt with, though I think the tens of dozens of thieves, loudmouthes, and low-lives hanging around bus stops and nicollet mall at any given time are far worse than any occupiers.

amiller92
amiller92

I think councilwoman Hodges summed it up.

The Occupiers last summer were right outside my office window (although rather far below).  They really didn't seem to cause any problems, and local officials were smart enough to let them do their thing until is fizzled out.

Going in and trying to arrest everyone only escalates and gives new energy to the protests.  We don't need a new ordinance to make that choice more tempting.

Erica
Erica

How about doing something about cellphone thieves instead of targeting OccupyMN? Earlier this week, a good friend of mine got jumped by some thugs, had her head slammed into the pavement three times, re-injured her back, and had her phone stolen.

Nachman
Nachman

Red herring. Black criminals attacking whites downtown is a separate problem from Occupy Movement abrogating the rights of others to use public areas.

Eric Frederiksen
Eric Frederiksen

this happened to me back in october. same deal. would like to see the city address the increasing crime instead of targeting peaceful protesters.

ludwigtr
ludwigtr

happens at the U constantly at night

Thomas Johnson
Thomas Johnson

OH NO...Can't have THAT, have to stop those Commie Pinko Occupiers....(insert sounds of me puking my guts out here).

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

Most people do have some sort of restrictions applied to them when they enter government property.

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