There's a controversy brewing over a proposal to eliminate half a block of Dinkytown for new apartment buildings, but with any luck the neighborhood can avoid the protests that erupted over a Red Barn fast food restaurant on the same block in 1970.
After a weeks-long standoff between protestors and police, which included occupying the buildings slated for demolition, law enforcement moved in to raze the building on May 6, 1970. See Star Tribune archival photos (above) of the earlier protests and the May 6 standoff.
Here's Minneapolis Star Staff Writer John Greenwald's description of the day:
About 100 law enforcement officers took exactly one hour early today to clear about 40 demonstrators from a row of Dinkytown storefronts and supervise the reduction of the structures to rubble.
The storefronts, located on the 1300 block of SE, 4th St., near the University of Minnesota, had been occupied since April 1 by student demonstrators protesting plans of Red Barn, Inc. to build a quick-service restaurant on the site.
When the officers finally came, they worked fast. Events happened in this order:
3:45 a.m. - A helicopter began circling overhead.
3:50 a.m. - Three police wagons and a police bus arrived. About 50 MInneapolis police officers and as many Hennepin County sheriff's deputies jumped out. Police armed with rifles and shotguns took up positions on rooftops across the street fromt he occupied storefronts. Other officers climbed to the roof of the occupied buildings themselves.
3:55 a.m. - Sheriff's deputies entered three of the storefronts. The demonstrators who planned to remain inside had barricaded themselves in the fourth. Sympathizers marched in an oval formation on the sidewalk singing "We Shall Not be Moved" and other songs.
4 a.m. - A brief scuffle broke out between deputies and demonstrators. A plate-glass window was smashed and three men and a woman were arrested. Moments later deputies, using riot batons as battering rams, tried to break into the fourth storefront.
4:07 a.m. - [Chief Deputy Sheriff Robert] McLane stepped back onto the sidewalk and ordered, "All right, let's move in there and remove 'em." Deputies immediately complied. Several demonstrators were carried out, struggling, by four officers. Several walked out voluntarily. Most, however, were dragged by the armpits across the sidewalk, through broken glass, over the street and into wagons.
4:28 a.m. - Officers began their sweep in an eastward direction at a brisk pace. Several persons nearest the advancing line were shoved and clubbed. Thsoe struck included students, a grey-haired man, a newspaper editor and a woman reporter who was knocked sprawling to the ground, her glasses flying in one direction and her shoes in another.
4:45 a.m. - The buildings were reduced to broken wood and shattered concrete. The helicopter still was circling overhead.