U.S. District Judge Eric Tostrud declined Wednesday to block imminent plans by the city of Minneapolis to clear a homeless encampment on its south side, rejecting the plea of two residents.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge concluded the city wouldn't be in violation of any constitutional rights by removing an unsanctioned tent city from public land. The closure is planned for Thursday; Tostrud said the city had given sufficient notice of its plans after considering the public harm that encampments cause, including "blight" and the "hindrance of development."

Camp Nenookaasi is located at E. 23rd Street and 13th Avenue S., a slice of city land that is slated for sale next month to the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, a nonprofit planning to build an art and wellness center.

"I made this decision because I've done the best to follow the law and this is where the law leads me," Tostrud said. "I don't know what the best policy decision is here."

The judge suggested policymakers, such as those in City Hall, were better suited than judges to create laws and procedures that meaningfully address unsheltered homelessness.

The city is still planning to close Camp Nenookaasi on Thursday, city spokesperson Sarah McKenzie said.

Cheryl Sagataw and DeAnthony Barnes, on behalf of themselves and more than 100 other occupants of Camp Nenookaasi, filed an emergency lawsuit against Mayor Jacob Frey on Tuesday to prevent their scheduled eviction on Thursday.

Their lawyer Kira Kelley described Camp Nenookaasi as a healing camp run by dedicated Indigenous leadership with lived experiences of addiction and unsheltered homelessness, rooted in getting people to recovery. Asking the judge for "more time," she said the camp provides interim stability while social service agents help chronically homeless people find housing, a process that can require many months.

Over the roughly 140 days of its existence, the camp has become a hub for outreach workers. More than 100 people have been connected to medical and housing services and dozens have moved out. Kelley argued this wouldn't have been possible had they been dispersed to the streets, less visible but still struggling.

"How many people would be dying under an underpass, being trafficked, but no one would ever know?" she said.

Assistant City Attorney Sharda Enslin, who is also representing Minneapolis on an ongoing encampment case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, disagreed. She said criminal activity "abounds" at the camp, citing a fatal shooting and more than 100 emergency calls for service related to the camp.

Enslin said the individuals residing at the camp have made a "conscious decision" not to go to a shelter, where — prior to the opioid crisis — people traditionally accessed resources to get out of homelessness. While acknowledging that emergency shelters separate opposite-sex partners, ban pets and pose other barriers that people find too high, she said "that doesn't mean it is reasonable to sleep outside on city property."