Judge dismisses Occupy protest lawsuit

  • Article by: DAAREL BURNETTE II , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 23, 2011 - 8:35 PM

Hennepin County and Occupy Minneapolis settled fight over use of public space, but some protesters are unhappy with role of ACLU.

A federal judge on Friday dismissed an Occupy Minneapolis lawsuit that claimed police had unfairly kicked protesters off the plazas at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis.

The dismissal followed a mediated settlement among Hennepin County, the American Civil Liberties Union and Occupy Minneapolis, according to county officials.

The lawsuit had challenged county rules about the use of the public plaza, where the group had been demonstrating since October. The group had objected to a ban on tents, on storing personal property on the plaza and on camping and sleeping on county property.

"Hennepin County has struck a reasonable balance between the First Amendment rights of all citizens and our responsibility to maintain a safe, accessible public place," said Mike Opat, the Hennepin County Board chairman. "The county's policies are intact and will be enforced."

The settlement includes provisions that the county dismiss several trespassing notices protesters received and return their seized property, and that protesters not sleep on the plaza and only store their property in a bike locker, according to a draft of the settlement published on the Occupy MN website.

A petition was being circulated Friday night by an Occupy Minneapolis protester demanding that the organization's name be removed from the lawsuit retroactively because, he claimed, the ACLU didn't involve Occupy Minneapolis members in the settlement.

Daarel Burnette II • 651-925-5032 Twitter: @DaarelStrib

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