Eight days after protesters began staging a 24-hour occupation on the plaza at the Hennepin County Government Center, they announced today that they were going to pitch tents on Saturday afternoon, risking arrests. The Hennepin County sheriff's office had told them earlier that tents were prohibited on the plaza. Until today the protesters have been camping out in sleeping bags. Here is what Occupy MN said in a news release today:

October 14th – OccupyMN to Set Up Tents For the Health and Safety of Participants

Minneapolis, MN – As OccupyMN reaches its one-week anniversary of the occupation of the People’s Plaza, we continue to stand in solidarity and remain committed to fighting for the 99%. We have been sleeping overnight without tents in the rain and cold.  As the weather gets colder, for the health and safety of all of the occupiers exercising their first amendment rights, we decided at last night’s general assembly that we will hold a rally and set up tents this Saturday at 4pm.  Just like food and water, we believe that shelter is a basic human right.

We have met repeatedly with the sheriff and chief of police but they have yet to resolve the issue. We have mobilized supporters to call the commissioner and county administrator Richard Johnson to petition we be allowed to set up tents. We will physically deliver petitions this afternoon to the county, and we are hopeful that we will be granted permission to set up tents as other occupations around the country have been allowed to.

Allowing protestors to stay the night in tents is not a new or unreasonable request. Earlier this year here in Minneapolis, a group protesting for fair wages was allowed to stay overnight in tents for 12 days during a hunger strike at Cub Foods.

We hope the police will not arrest peaceful demonstrators, but we have been training participants in non-violent civil disobedience to ensure our safety in the case arrests are made. Two more trainings will be held at the People’s Plaza today at 1:00pm and Saturday at 2:00pm. A safe zone will be designated for those who do not wish to risk arrest. We invite all Minnesotans to join us and stand in solidarity with OccupyMN and all other occupations around the world.

We are the 99%. Stand with us on Saturday at 4pm.