Occupy relaunches protests

  • Article by: NICOLE NORFLEET , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 7, 2012 - 10:33 PM

Protesters descended on two sites in downtown Minneapolis as they attempted to reignite the fervor of last year's movement.

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Liz Dahl talked to the crowd of about 30 participants about the small march they were going to conduct during the first day back for Occupy Minnesota in Peavey Plaza in Minneapolis Min., Saturday, April 7, 2012.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

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Small groups of protesters reoccupied downtown Minneapolis on Saturday, pitching tents at Peavey Plaza and Loring Park in hopes of revitalizing the Occupy movement that swept the country last fall.

Starting at noon, about 40 demonstrators began to congregate at Peavey Plaza near Orchestra Hall to resume protesting against corporate greed, income disparities and other issues. Some set up tents to shield themselves from the rain. Others held signs near the intersections of Nicollet Mall and 11th and 12th Streets, within sight of passing cars.

"I think it's important that we remain in the public eye," said a 25-year-old man who called himself Gonzo Sky-Walking.

Sky-Walking participated in the Occupy movement during last year's protests at the Hennepin County Government Center plaza.

"I think that it just started to shed light on how many people across the globe realize there's a problem," he said of the earlier protests.

A few blocks away at Loring Park, about 20 protesters milled about near a canopy on the park's edge.

Elias LaVelle, 28, of Minneapolis, said he thought it was important that the demonstrations continue. "It's not a movement that intends to go away anytime soon," he said.

Earlier in the week, police said that demonstrators can stay all night in Peavey Plaza and put up tents, but can't sleep in them. However, the park police, which patrols Loring Park, said no one can stay there overnight.

"Park police will be enforcing our ordinances, and people will not be able to stay in the park after midnight," said Dawn Sommers, spokeswoman for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

Despite the warnings, Ben Egerman, 25, an organizer with Occupy Minneapolis, said protesters planned to stay at both locations indefinitely.

Saturday night, on police orders, protesters removed their tents in Peavey Plaza and marched to Loring Park. On the way, they blocked traffic at 10th Street and Nicollet Mall, chanting, "Who is scared? Never scared. Occupy everywhere."

Egerman attributed the small number of protesters to the inclement weather. "I think it's going to build over time," he said.

During the fall, the anti-Wall Street demonstrators set up tents at the Hennepin County Government Center plaza, but over the ensuing two months, county officials tightened the rules, limiting overnight camping. Sheriff's deputies removed tents in early December, which effectively shut down the protest.

Several Minneapolis protests in the fall drew about 500 demonstrators. Over the winter, Occupy activists organized several anti-foreclosure rallies.

A national Occupy protest is scheduled May 1, and the Minneapolis group said it will participate.

Staff writers Randy Furst and Wendy Lee contributed to this report. Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495 Twitter: @stribnorfleet

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