By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Cries for change and accountability. This time, aimed straight at the Minneapolis Park Board and city leadership for the recent evictions of homeless encampments in the city’s parks.

Hundreds walked the streets of Minneapolis Saturday afternoon calling for the end of park encampment evictions in the city.

The group marched from Bryant Square Park to the home of Park Board Superintendent Al Bangoura to show solidarity with the unhoused people of the city.

“You were the ones that celebrated Minneapolis parks being recognized nationally and are the same people who are saying unhoused folks shouldn’t be in the parks so who are the parks for? Who is this city for?” said organizer Toussaint Morrison, with On Site Public Media.

The march was about ending encampment evictions. But more than that, the group wants to see real affordable housing solutions for unhoused people in the city.

“I think they’ve been horrific I mean it’s just the most dehumanizing thing possible you can do to people who are just trying to live,” said Meghan Kreidler.

“I think it’s horrible when I was going through COVID-19 I’m a massage therapist and I was worried about being homeless and it was scary,” said Charlie Pepper.

After marching to the home of the Park Board Superintendent Al Bangoura,

There was a discussion about how to end park evictions and come up with better housing solutions and accountability tactics.

“Al has unilateral power unilateral power to end evictions right now,” Morrison said to the crowd.

“The encampments are this beautiful thing but they’re not sustainable right? So it’s not a long term solution,” said Kreidler.

It goes beyond discussion.

Organizers are asking for help to defend the encampments.

Telling people to sign up for alerts — to physically block evictions from happening.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board says staff visited all encampments — encouraging people living there and their advocates to apply for temporary encampment permits, which closed on Aug. 28.

It says as the 16 approved sites became full, the park staff along with the city and county encouraged people to look for shelter spaces.

But people at Saturday’s event say: that’s not good enough.

“We don’t need legal slips or to the play the game to say we’re human and we belong where we are,” said Morrison.

“It’s a right it’s a human right to have housing and everybody deserves it,” said Kreidler.

“This is not a high calculus problem we have the power to change this. We have the power to change it,” said Morrison.

Mayor Jacob Frey’s office declined to comment. But pointed out that city parks and their encampment policies come from the park board, not the mayor or city.

People at today’s event did point the finger at the mayor, saying the city needs to come up with more permanent, affordable and free housing solutions.

They also want him to visit the encampments and take questions.

Full list of demands per the organizing group’s fb post:

– Park evictions cease immediately, and a community forum is held to discuss MPRB’s accountability to the un-housed community.

– Minneapolis authorize five more parks in addition to its current 21 to be open to un-housed folks.

– Mayor Frey personally visits each encampment and answers questions for one hour.

– City Council engage a long-term plan for affordable housing in the city of Minneapolis.

Erin Hassanzadeh

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