Local law enforcement authorities are meeting to figure out what they will do when local Wall St. protesters descend on the Hennepin County plaza for demonstrations that they say could last overnight and continue for days.
“People can use the space all the time to protest, to rally, to voice their opinion,” Carolyn Marinan, Hennepin County public affairs director, said today. “They can tell us ahead of time, but don’t have to. We don’t give them permission or deny them access. This is a public space.”
But she added, “This is not a campground.”
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek told me today that his office was meeting with protest organizers “to ask them what their expectations are and likewise explain our expectations.”
He declined to go into more details, saying he’d be able to have a better idea of the protesters' plans and the sheriff’s office’s position later today or Wednesday.
The protest group told Star Tribune reporter Heron Marquez Estrada in an article published Monday in the Star Tribune that 500 to 1,000 protesters will take over the plaza this Friday. Estimating the size of demonstrations in advance is very difficult and this is a new protest group, so it remains to be seen what they can muster.
The sheriff’s department has enforcement power over the plaza, but the plaza may be governed by city ordinances that restrict the use of erecting tents or sleeping overnight in public areas without a permit. The city attorney’s office said today it would look into what the regulations are and let the Star Tribune know.
The demonstrators have discussed planning a multi-day protest against corporate America, similar to the demonstrations that have occurred in the Wall St. area in New York City in recent weeks where protesters took over a park. I covered their first meeting last week and blogged about it. Since then they decided to switch the protest from the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis to to the Government Center plaza.
The main target of the protest appears to be the big corporations and the banks. The local group said it plans to be non-violent. There have been arrests for conducting civil disobedience in New York City, but there have also been some confrontations with police.
Asked on Tuesday what Hennepin County authorities will do, Marinan said: “We are going to meet with the Hennepin County sheriff’s (office) tomorrow, our administration and the Minneapolis police department…. I don’t think we have all the answers right now.”