OccupyMN has had a number of disagreements with county officials. Since the occupation began on October 7, there have been a number of attempts to remove the protestors from The People’s Plaza ( also known as the Hennepin County Government Plaza). The protesters have argued that they are just exercising First Amendment rights.
In response, Hennepin County’s Board has created new rules aimed at discouraging the occupation. The frustration boiled over at the Hennepin County Board’s last meeting of 2011 when a dozen or so OccupyMN supporters interrupted the board meeting with a “Mic Check.” Mic Check began with Occupy Wall Street when the the City of New York forbade the use of sound systems.
The participants echo the statements of the speaker starting with the opening statement of, “Mic check,”, often in waves until the entire crowd is covered. It has been used many times as a disruptive action in meetings and events, most recently last week in the US House of Representatives. The OccupyMN group was quickly removed without incident by county security officers. Most of the hundreds of Occupy sites nation wide have had or are facing similar disputes.
The most dramatic event locally occurred on December 6 when Sheriff’s deputies swept the plaza and removed everything. A Minnesota District Court ruling on November 21 affirmed the right of the group to post signs on the plaza. The replacement of signs on December 11 was triggered by the December 6 removal. A suit filed on November 21, 2011, by the Minnesota ACLU in behalf of OccupyMN challenges the use of trespass notices as a, “back-door approach to end the occupation.” The orders prohibiting sleeping on the Plaza is seen by some as a draconian attack on the homeless. Occupy activists promise continued legal and public action to defend the 99%.
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