7 booked in OccupyMN protest

  • Article by: RANDY FURST , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 20, 2011 - 8:36 PM

About 100 people aligned with OccupyMN gathered outside U.S. Bank in downtown Minneapolis to oppose foreclosures.

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Merritt Benton sat in the intersection of 6th Street and 2nd Avenue S. in Minneapolis on Thursday, after protesters marched to the U.S. Bank building. Benton and six others refused a police request to clear the street and were arrested.

Photo: David Denney, Star Tribune

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Seven demonstrators involved in the two-week-old Minneapolis protest against corporate America were arrested Thursday for blocking traffic in front of the U.S. Bank building.

It was the first instance of multiple arrests since OccupyMN began Oct. 7 in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York City.

Chanting "Stop foreclosures now!" protesters erected tents in the intersection of 6th Street and 2nd Avenue S., causing police to reroute traffic. When seven refused to move after about an hour of sitting in the street, they were led away by police and charged with misdemeanors.

The arrests culminated a day of confrontations that began on the other side of the building, across 3rd Avenue S. from OccupyMN's encampment on the plaza outside the Hennepin County Government Center. About 100 demonstrators set up four small tents that were plastic sheeting placed over a simple wood frame on the sidewalk in front of U.S. Bank's plaza.

Then they picked up the tents and marched to the other side of the building, where they set them up in the intersection. Minneapolis police dismantled three of the tents, but the protesters then set up a small camping tent. Sgt. Gary Nelson announced that protesters who did not leave the intersection would be arrested.

Most of the protesters moved to the curb. Seven who stayed inside the tents were handcuffed and arrested. They did not resist. Four listed Minneapolis home addresses, two live in St. Louis Park and one lives in St. Paul.

In a statement before the arrests, Tom Joyce, a U.S. Bank spokesman, said, "We understand that in these challenging times, many are concerned about the economy and continued high unemployment."

He called foreclosure "the last option for borrowers and the bank. We've worked with thousands of borrowers across the country on modifying their mortgages to help them manage their payments."

OccupyMN issued its own statement after the arrests: "The corruption of Wall Street and the big banks is responsible for our country's economic recession and the foreclosure crisis. ... We want our houses back."

Randy Furst • 612-673-4224

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