Mayor Rybak agrees to meet with Occupy protesters Tuesday
- Blog Post by: Randy Furst
- April 9, 2012 - 3:45 PM
Mayor R. T. Rybak will meet with protesters from the Occupy movement on Tuesday at 1 p.m. to hear the concerns of Occupy movement protesters who denounced him at a rally on the steps of Minneapolis City Hall on Monday. The protesters accused him of being complicit with the police who ordered them to take down their tents Saturday, and arrested 12 of them in a demonstration.
Rybak's staff agreed to the meeting after the protesters jammed into his office on Monday afternoon. A security official asked the protesters to leave, but they refused and continued to chant. Eventually, Rybak's staff asked to see two of the protesters' representatives, and they went into the inner officer, met with Rybak's staff. They came out a few minutes later to announce that the meeting had been arranged.
Earlier Monday, Police Chief Tim Dolan defended officers' actions in removing tents from Peavey Plaza, but said he was disappointed in an officer's rough treatment of a TV cameraman.
At the Monday rally, protesters expressed anger that that police had first said last week that they could pitch tents on Peavey Plaza, as long as they did not sleep in them, then reversed themselves on Saturday and told them the tents had to be taken down. They blamed the mayor for that decision.
When demonstrators marched into the street on Saturday night, 12 were arrested for blocking traffic. Dolan said Monday that some of the protesters were on bicycles and tried to block patrol cars. The protesters claimed that the police arrested protesters who were standing on the sidewalk and arrested some legal observers. They also said protesters were roughed up and accused the police of brutality.
Asked if Rybak was involved in the decision to arrest the protesters, Jeremy Hanson Willis, Rybak's chief of staff, said Monday he was not. Asked if Rybak was involved in the decision to order the protesters to take down the tents, Hanson Willis said, "He (Rybak) was aware that they (the police) were enforcing the city ordinance."
John Stiles, Rybak's media representative, described the Monday meeting with the two protesters as "perfectly civil." Asked how Rybak felt about how the protest was handled on Saturday night, Stiles said, "He'll address that tomorrow."
Asked what Rybak thought about Dolan's statement that he was "disappointed" that a police officer had knocked a camera out of a KSTP's photographer's hands during the Staturday night protest, Stiles said, "He (Rybak) shares that opinion."
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