Minn. Sheriff Firm On No Tents For Anti-Wall Street Protesters

Gallery: Protesters March In Mpls

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Sheriff Rich Stanek has met early each morning with anti-Wall Street demonstrators occupying a government plaza in Minneapolis as part of a policy of engagement that has helped head off major disruptions as the protest enters its second week.

But the calm that has prevailed so far could be tested Saturday, when protesters have said they aim to begin setting up tents in defiance of a ban on structures in the plaza between the Hennepin County Government Center and Minneapolis City Hall.

“We’ve given them quite a bit of leeway and latitude to be able to do this. We understand what it is that they want to do,” Stanek said Friday. But, he said, officials are standing firm on the tent ban.

Instead, the county is allowing a temporary, 20-by-30-foot structure with a roof and no sides for people to take shelter in bad weather.

“This is a public place, but it is not a campground,” County Administrator Richard Johnson said. “We have permitted people to stay overnight, but this isn’t a place where you pitch tents.”

Demonstrators said about 100 people have been sleeping at the protest site, and they need warmth and shelter as the weather turns colder. Organizer Sara Wilcox, a 28-year-old unemployed journalist from Minneapolis, said they’re not trying to pick fights with the police but believe erecting tents isn’t illegal.

“I think we’ve proved that we’re a peaceful, law-abiding bunch,” said Wilcox, who slept on the plaza four of the last seven nights. “We think this can be resolved.”

Similar Occupy Wall Street protests have popped up nationwide as participants spread a message of discontent over government policies they say favors corporations and the wealthy at the expense of the poor and working class. In several locations, it’s been not the content of the message but disagreements over sleeping arrangements that have sparked confrontations between police and demonstrators.

In Denver early Friday, police in riot gear herded hundreds of protesters away from the state Capitol as they dismantled a camp and arrested about two dozen people. In Trenton, N.J., protesters were ordered to remove tents set up near a war memorial.

But in New York, where the movement started, the owners of a plaza where protesters have camped out for more than a month decided Friday to put off cleaning it — a move protesters claimed as a victory after fears they were about to be evicted.

Other cities have made accommodations. In Wisconsin, Madison police and city officials have reported no problems since protests began Oct. 7, and Mayor Paul Soglin — who was beaten by police when he was a student protester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the 1960s — worked closely with organizers and residents living near the park where the protesters were based.

That communication helped make the marches go smoothly, said Katie Crawley, the mayor’s spokeswoman.

“Mutual respect for individuals is not a bad thing,” she said.

The city waived the normal closing time of the park, allowing people to spend the night over the weekend. However, Madison also barred the pitching of tents as well as food vending and cooking. Police and other city officials had a constant presence.

All of the protesters left the park without incident Monday, although some have moved to a new location near the state Capitol.

In Milwaukee, a police spokeswoman said officials have been meeting with demonstrators. Peter Rickman, an organizer, said there were plans Saturday to wrap yellow crime-scene tape across the entrances of three downtown banks.

“We anticipate some kind of conflict with law enforcement,” said Rickman, but added that protesters planned a strictly nonviolent approach.

Many protesters in Minneapolis have taken classes in nonviolent civil disobedience. Few admitted Friday to wanting a confrontation with police, but at the same time sentiment was strong that they should be able to sleep in tents.

“It’s Minnesota. People need to stay warm,” said Tony Boicourt, a 22-year-old college student from Forest Lake who’d slept on the plaza four of the seven nights. LaDonna Redmond, another protest organizer, said she and fellow demonstrators appreciated the canopy that the county set up but most wanted the greater protection offered by a tent.

While Stanek said setting up a tent would not be automatic grounds for arrest, he said deputies would take them down. A county spokeswoman said they would be confiscated and returned to the owners later. Redmond said she didn’t know how demonstrators would react to that.

“Tomorrow will be the day where the envelope will be pushed,” she said.

  • health care provider

    Tear gas and daisy cutters on US citizens? You people make me sick. For those of you that have jobs and mock those that don’t, I hope you feel the pain of losing everything you own, including your healthcare…see how the shoe feels when it’s jammed on your foot.
    Wall Street and big business off-shored most of the best paying jobs in the US.;all so their fat cat CEO’s and share holders could have MORE MORE MORE…wake up to the reality that they LOVE to have the 99% fight amongst themselves so as to keep people from banding together to actually change the current status quo.
    I really REALLY hope that those who mock the protesters lose EVERYTHING they own…see what it’s like to have no job prospects, lose your home, car, insurance. I am a licensed health care provider that was involuntarily cut to part time, as was everyone else in my field. I only have a license in the state of Minnesota. I’ve lost my health care, and I have a mortgage to pay and a teen to support. I don’t want to go on state aid, but there are no full time jobs for me.
    So you awful people mock others. When you are desperate and in need of health care, guess how sympathetic I am going to feel for you?

    • Steve

      @ health care provider
      Looks like your Union really helped you out. Are they going to bring you tents and warm food? Doubt it, they just took your money and ran!

    • rt

      Why not your Pres just killed an american citizen

      • Steve

        @ rt When you take up arms against America, thats the price you pay!

        • www

          the protesters are no better then the ones that take up arms against us! They want to crash wall street and the markets. They are no better then Bin Laden

    • rt

      @health care provider McDonalds is hiring,

  • Jeremy Pettit

    Would a massive blanket fort be okay?

  • g8bbgg

    Hey seveal say they are getting paid to do this, are they going to pay taxes on this????

  • Rory B.

    How about we fire them at you first and see what happens.

    • Jake

      Maybe you should go down there and got hit by a water cannon.

  • RoryB

    I gave been down there and they know all too well why they are there. Maybe you should pay them a visit and get enlightened.

  • Kenny L

    A political and economic system that rewards dirty banks, and kicks familys out of there homes SHOULD be protested against. MORE and MORE people are losing there jobs,not finding work , losing there homes.
    And some of the posters on here want to blow them out with water hoses?

    Must be that left over compassionate conservitive stuff we fell for some years ago. Its a RECESSION when people you know lose there jobs. Its a DEPRESSION when you lose yours. Lets just hope that the movement does NOT get CO-OPED, by the left or right.

    • oh well

      If you cant afford a home dont buy it!!!!

      • Jude

        Posted on I like the idea of an October to February league. But I might even take it one step furhter and run it from November through March. That’s one thing the NFL has that no other leagues have is that they leave us wanting more. I think only the hardest core fans are sad to see the ends of the NBA, MLB and NHL seasons but in the NFL, I think most people are nowhere near ready for it to end. I remember as a kid thinking the NFL season is already 3/4 over!

  • Now Hear This!!

    Patchouli drenched hacky-sackers…tattooed hipsters with facial piercings…Liberal arts dropouts…video game addicts…whiny 20 somethings w/ their smartphones,ipads & $4 lattes…that’s who is “protesting Dt..most of these people can’t wake up before noon anyhow & are unemployable to begin with..They all embraced Obama back in ’08…They are too clueless to realize he sold em out!

    • Protest Rich Dayton!

      Let’s go protest the rich people to make them pay their fair share! Governor Dayton’s family started Target and he’s rich. Let’s protest him!

      • jimmy

        Daytons dad made most of his money while paying 70% plus federal tax rate. The family did pay their fair sbhare.

        • go away bs

          Did you do their taxes honey?

        • Phid

          So if the rich have paid their “fair share”, why are liberals still complaining about them not paying enough? You can’t have it both ways.

          • Robert

            Liberals would complain even if they lived in a state controlled utopia of their own creation.

    • Concerned Citzen

      LOL spot on sir! I have seen this first hand visiting them.

  • Jake

    Go go Rich Stanek, don’t let these modern day hippies trash our beloved downtown. I PAY TAXES.

    • Get educated

      these people pay taxes as well…

      • UGeteducated

        These people pay taxes? Where do they work that they can lay on lawns for weeks at a time.

  • Jake

    Water cannons would be good right about now, to go with the COLDER temperatures…..

    • Icicles


      They would be better in January when the water turns to ice in the air. Cool.

  • TracieW

    Let me get this straight. Homeless people can protect themselves under a bridge or in a box and somehow their plight is tolerated. But when ordinary citizens with an address pitch a tent in the process of protesting gross indifference to their plight, it somehow becomes a threat? To what?

    I hardly believe people camping out pose a threat to my status quo which is basically watching my livelihood and hard earned savings boil away while Wall Street gets bailed out. Whose interest’s are being protected?

    • Jon Lindquist

      well, technically you need to consider the location and the potential terrorist threat (sadly, this does exist, even if the protestors themselves are peaceful, it is a perfect chance for a violent person to take advantage of the situation). pitching an enclose structure on county or city owned property could cause problems and complications for the police (much harder to do their job safely). Sure, the homeless have been allowed to set up shelter (until they get chased out) but never in these areas as they are forced to leave once found.

      I support the protestors, but I also understand the need for safety. Sure, it would be nice if the county put up clear plastic on the structure to shield from the elements, but if you can’t see what is going on inside a tent, then someone could be breaking the law and that could ruin it for everyone if it leads to closing the plaza down.

    • ck

      i need people protesting – it makes me look normal – but it also makes the world stop and look at themselves. It seems the organizers did not intend to be as cooperative as the initial plans. [[ Lets talk trust now,eh?.]] , Hey, do these people live here in MN or are they a band of taveling protestors?

    • Waaaaaaaa

      I respect the homeless more then I respect the protesters

  • twofiveone

    So they aren’t going to allow tents, but maybe they could use ice-fishing houses. if Mr Stanek is worried about them getting to cold. I know that this would not be as warm as a house or hotel but better than a flimsy tent.

  • Jacky R

    by Anryth on “YouTube” and the MESSAGE IS!!

    The message is that the American people have effectively been disenfranchised by the corruption and the intermingling of corporate dollars and government at all levels. Their goal is for average Americans to get together and demand reform to a political and economic system that stifles our voices and actively makes all of our lives harder in the interest of further enriching the already-rich.

    If you don’t see that anything’s wrong, you’re either very lucky or not paying attention

  • A

    Why are they not protesting at the capital? If they want change in government, aren’t the law makers the people who can change this? They are located in St. Paul, go there.

  • Guy

    Hey protester guys – why don’t you go set up camp in Arden Hills on the site the Vikes want to build their new stadium on? They are a corporation. Trying to ram the stadium down people’s (who DON’T want it 2-1) throats is both greedy & evil.

    Why aren’t you guys doing something useful & protesting Ziggy the BILLIONARE and all of the rich MILLIONARE players?

  • Jerry Frey

    Get the money out of politics. Campaign contributions are the nexus of corruption in the capitol. Reduce the amount of money involved in re-election, which really is the name of the game, by promulgating free air time during elections. Keep the current system for primaries.

    Lobbyists infest Washington like locusts in a cornfield.

    Protesters on Wall Street who represent anger, despair, and frustration with the status quowill begin making an impact on the Establishment’s consciousness when the protests are transferred to Pennsylvania Ave. and McClean, Va.


  • Concerned Citzen

    These people are nuts!

    “I think we’ve proved that we’re a peaceful, law-abiding bunch,”

    They were protesting the Jail saying 90% of the people should be let out. I have video of it. Wonder if Yahoo/CBS wants to cover that.

    They are self proclaimed Communists and many of them so ignorant they voted for Obama and still will even thought he received the most Wall Street Funding of any candidate. I hope they get their tents torn down if they set them up.

    It will only serve as a obstruction and safety hazard if a riot ever broke out. People in Occupy LA are calling for Violent Revolution so I think it should be understood these people are radicals. Having tents means they can hide weapons in the future or hide from authorities who would have to search tent by tent to find people in the event of an emergency.

    If they want to stand outside, a hat and coat will provide just as much shelter and they can still do the same political protesting. They do not “need” tents.

  • See BS

    I think Corporate run liberal media fascists ignores Freddie and Fannie, because it dwarfs Enron.

  • Elisabeth

    Seriously? Yes, make our downtown areas a tent city because you don’t think a temporary job at Target or Macy’s is worthy of your education. I have news for you – most of these protesters have jobs, 401ks, insurance, homes… do I need to go on? Here’s an idea … don’t stay overnight. Don’t occupy anywhere. Let ORDINARY citizens who want to enjoy their city (that we pay for, I might add), enjoy their city. Comparing yourselves to a homeless person is insulting – homeless people would go home if they had one! How obviously oblivious to the true plight of the working class and not-working class these people are. Also, Sara Wilcox is not an “out of work journalist”. If she is 28 and without employment, she is just unemployed, and has plenty of time to become an employed citizen, maybe not in the same field – but really? Don’t complain that you don’t have a job if you are limiting yourself to one very small subsection of employment. Every store in town is looking for holiday workers … might not be permanent or good money, but it is a job. Fair or not fair, standing outside isn’t going to help.

    • Robert

      I work downtown and enjoy the city, My employer has had us employees attend a mandatory class on dealing with possible protester swarms and protester violence. It’s really silly since I am now in charge of implementing a “lockdown” on one of my companies building floors. The companies in Minneapolis are taking this protest seriously, not as a political movement, but as a very high risk employee security threat..

  • bart

    Lets all hope for snow and sleet. They will all go back to moms basement and the video games.

  • what a goof

    Being a protester come with risk. This is one of them. Mow let’s man up and move on.

  • just an Average Minnesotan

    …when protesters have said they aim to begin setting up tents in defiance of a ban on structures…

    Yep, that shows just exactly how childish the protesters are. All these protesters want is attention. You know, kind of like that spoiled kid that throws a temper tantrum when they don’t get their way. Get a life people. If you want to be treated like adults then act responsibly.

    These protesters have no solid idea what they want. And they also have no ideas on how to resolve their ‘perceived’ grievances. Come on people. If you are not a part of the solution you are a part of the problem. If you have a real grievance than state it in an understandable manner. And then offer a reasonable working solution for it.

    Or maybe they would rather fall on the grass and have a temper tantrum .

    I guess children will be children, regardless of age.

  • Robert

    When the Minnesota winter get down to -30 I would expect the plaza to be empty. If the protesters stay the winter in their sleeping bags and bivy sacks, perhaps I might have and inkling of respect for them.

    Sing your songs, beat your drums. Sooner or later the media will abandon you. They are just waiting for the protest to turn violent, another 3 minute clip on the 10 O’Clock news.

    If you want to protest, go for it, your true colors will soon be revealed. The vast majority of American don’t want Socialism or Communism as a Government mandate.

    Beat your drums, scream your slogans. The majority does not care. I’m all for having the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, but I am not for the massive increase in social programs (hence entitlements) that a number of protesters advocate.

    The only way you can change the system is from within. Get a job, pay your taxes and run for elected government. If you don’t want to do that, fine. Protest and make a lot of noise. America has changed since the 1960’s, there’s a lot less love to go around, more apathy, and less will to provide for the common good. You can blame the “ME FIRST” generations for that, and yes dear protesters, that includes you.


    All we need now is Amy Senser to get a wild hair up her ass and drive her SUV into these idiots tonight. We’re pulling for you Amy!!!!

  • b

    OK in the article right there it says this is a public place so if it is a public place it was paid with taxpayer money just like the same money paying for the cops so if we the taxpayers pay for it we own it not the goverment how does the goverment own anything if taxpayers pay for it. everything went to hell when worthless guys started wearing a suit and tie good job your worthless guys your a disgrace to every guy

  • G Dog

    Good for the Sheriff. He had a deal with the protest leaders and they broke it.

    Now could we just arrest everyone who wears a tricorn hat, please?

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