MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis area authorities who declined to remove anti-Wall Street protesters from a government plaza when a ban on sleeping there overnight went into effect declined to say Tuesday when or if they will begin enforcing the new law.
Several dozen protesters spent Monday night on the plaza between the Hennepin County Government Center and Minneapolis City Hall. Since Oct. 7, the roughly half-block area has been the site of protests rooted in a movement that began in New York City.
Carolyn Marinan, a Hennepin County spokeswoman, said the county would “wait to see what happens.”
Marinan and Sheriff Rich Stanek have said they’re balancing free speech with concerns about the safety of protesters, who have been forbidden to set up tents.
“It’s not going to be OK for people to stay overnight when temperatures are dangerous and cold,” Marinan said Tuesday. “We don’t want someone freezing on our plaza.”
Osha Karow, a protester who has sometimes acted as spokesman for them, said they want to “maintain the plaza for as long as we can.” He downplayed any risk from weather, saying most protesters received training on how to cope with cold.
“When it becomes too much for some people, they always have the choice to go home and warm up,” Karow said.
Crowds for the Minneapolis protest have numbered a few hundred for some rallies, with much smaller numbers typically sleeping overnight. It’s been mostly uneventful, with a few arrests for such things as public urination and drunkenness and the only real conflict early in the movement when sheriff’s deputies stopped tents from being set up.
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