Civic Beat: Crack down on campout

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November 21, 2011
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter

County Board cracks down on OccupyMN campout

The Hennepin County Board put an end to the OccupyMN campout, ordering the removal of unattended personal items from Government Plaza and prohibiting sleeping on county grounds.

A resolution, passed unanimously by the seven-member board on Nov. 7, does not prohibit ongoing protesters from demonstrating on Government Plaza, but it made it impossible for the roughly three dozen of them to continue protesting around the clock.

The measure also prohibits protesters from hanging signs on county property.

Hennepin County began enforcing the resolution on Nov. 14, allowing time for protesters to gather up their things.

About 15 “occupiers” attended the board meeting. They wrote “free speech” on pieces of blue tape and stuck them to their mouths. During a public input period they promised that even if the resolution passed, they would stay on the plaza.

“When you stand in the way of this, you’re standing in the way of a populist movement,” said a male protester who did not give his name.

Margaret Hastings of Minneapolis, a self-described advocate for the homeless, said she supported the resolution and called it reasonable. She said the county has been practicing a double standard by allowing the protesters to sleep on the plaza, but not the homeless.

“Homeless persons are not allowed to sleep out on the plaza,” she said. “The very inequality they talk about, they themselves are practicing.”

The resolution, as proposed by County Administrator Richard P. Johnson, included the banning of portable toilets. Commission Peter McLaughlin of Minneapolis, however, proposed an amendment that would allow for one portable toilet in the case of an ongoing protest. That amendment passed.

Commissioner Gail Dorfman proposed an amendment to remove the ban on sleeping on the plaza, because she said it would be difficult to enforce. She said people commonly use the plaza to take naps on nice days.

Her motion failed, but she still voted in favor of the resolution.

“This resolution continues your right to assemble,” Dorfman said.

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Candidates line up for DFL primary in Senate District 59

Six candidates have filed to run in the DFL primary for the Senate District 59 seat that was vacated by Larry Pogemiller.

Included in the field:

• Peter Wagenius, Mayor R.T. Rybak’s policy director  

• Jacob Frey, a community activist

• Alicia Frosch, a community organizer  

• Mohamud Noor, an IT professional

• Paul Ostrow, an attorney and former City Council member

• Kari Dziedzic, a policy assistant to Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein

• Ben Schwanke is running unopposed in the Republican primary.

The primary will be held Dec. 6, with a general election to follow on Jan. 10.

The Senate District 59 seat was vacated when Pogemiller took a job in Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration. He will serve as director of the Office of Higher Education.

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New resource gives detailed information about Minneapolis neighborhoods

A new compilation of data, prepared by Wilder Research, give Minneapolis residents an intimate and revealing look at each of the city’s 87 neighborhoods.

The data show a slew of neighborhood characteristics, including race, income, job status, transportation and education.

The compilation of data can be found at mncompass.org. Wilder Research used U.S. Census and other data to put together profiles of Minnesota cities in recent years, but this year was the first time it broke it down to the neighborhood level in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Reach Nick Halter at nhalter@mnpubs.com.