MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Hundreds of protesters demonstrating with Occupy Minnesota set up tents Friday afternoon in defiance of Hennepin County’s ban on tents in the Hennepin County Government Center plaza, where protesters have demonstrated since Oct. 7.
The protesters marched into the southern part of the government plaza at around 4:30 p.m., carrying clear, plastic tents and chanting, “We are the 99 percent.” They set up the tents on grass lawns and used clear material so that what went on inside the tents would be visible to authorities, who are watching over the protest and recording it with video cameras.
Nick Espinosa, one of the Occupy Minnesota organizers, said that the clear tents show the protesters’ desire for transparency.
“The concern we’ve been hearing is visibility, that [police] don’t know what’s going on inside of those tents,” Espinosa said. “So we’ve found a creative solution that addresses their concerns … but also our concerns for the safety and health of everyone who’s sleeping out here.”
Espinosa said he spoke with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and told authorities that the protest is in no way violent and that they are willing to protest outside the government center until change comes.
None of the tent-making protesters have been arrested and the tents have remained untouched by authorities. However, the OccupyMN Facebook page said that the police were going to take down the tents soon.
In a press release Friday, authorities said that if they saw protesters putting up a tent, they would ask them to stop. If protesters refused, authorities said police would take down the tent, inventory the tent with county staff and return it to protesters at a later date.
Around the tents, protesters made a human chain. And by 7:15 p.m., it consisted of more than 100 protesters, all of which were willing to be arrested.
WCCO-TV was told police arrested a legal observer Saturday evening, but it did not appear to be in relation to the tent protest. The woman had been asked by police not to return to the protest Friday, and when she did Saturday, they arrested her.