For those wanting a bit more detailed run-down of Saturday, April 7th’s events, I had typed this little run-down up to send to some local media, but think that it may be of use to you all as well.
As planned, groups met today in both Loring Park and Peavey Plaza at 12-noon. Around 2:00pm Minneapolis Police officers came to Peavey Plaza to state to us that we were in violation of a state law (609.74) in which our tents, banners on strings, and tarps were in violation of the law and were to be considered as a public nuisance. This was, of course, the first that we had heard about such a law in the state. When the Lieutenant and Sergent were speaking with me, they literally stated that this law had been found by the City Attorney and that the order to enforce it was sent from the Minneapolis Mayor’s Office. News reports prior to the re-occupation essentially guaranteed our right to erect tents upon Peavey Plaza and if you look back at the Minneapolis Business Journal, it quotes the Minneapolis Police Department stating that this was the case. When the officers approached us, we asked for them to return with a printed ordinance so that we could decide what we were to do with the new enforcement of this law.
Around 6:00 pm, the officers returned to Peavey Plaza with copies of the ordinance to pass out. The ordinance itself applies to any type of item that is infringing upon the public’s right-of-way. It is important to note that while we had tents erected, they were not on the sidewalk, but rather they were upon the plaza itself. It is also important to note that the city of Minneapolis had just recently erected signs along the edge of Peavey Plaza advertising the planned renovation, and that those sit (unpermitted) upon the sidewalk itself along with the Minneapolis Police Department’s stationary cameras. They would not comment as to whether or not they felt that their own signs and camera were within the jurisdiction of the law itself.
After we received this notice, occupiers held a meeting to decide what it was we were to do when the officers chose to enforce the law itself. They had not given us a time-frame as to when they would be back to enforce this.
At around 8:30 pm, the Minneapolis Police Department including Chief Dolan had returned to Peavey Plaza to enforce the law that they had found and chosen to enforce against Occupy Minneapolis. As they ordered us to either remove the structures or have them forcibly removed, we chose to pick up our tents and march through the streets. We marched to Loring Park where our other Brothers and Sisters were gathered, and were followed by the Minneapolis Police. Upon vacating Peavey Plaza, the remaining items were taken by the Minneapolis Police. They also removed all signs, sidewalk chalking, and any other trace of the day’s events from the plaza itself.
After gathering in Loring, we decided as a group that we would attempt to take back Peavey Plaza and place our structures upon the plaza itself. It is important to note that while the law has been on the books in Minnesota for a while, there was no mentioning of it prior to our reoccupation and the enforcement of the law is a clear sign that the City of Minneapolis has no respect to our First Amendment rights of both freedom of assembly and free speech. (Congress shall make no law…)
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We marched from Loring Park, up Hennepin Avenue, and then back down First Avenue until we arrived at Peavey Plaza. We sat our tents and canopies back down, and began to have an open discussion as to why we all occupy. This was interrupted by the Minneapolis Police Department as they gave us a warning that the structures were in violation of the law and that we must remove them. Again, they gave no time-frame of how long it would be until they acted. After I literally forced them to give us a clear deadline (they gave us 10-minutes) we decided that we would take to the streets again. Individuals raised up our tents and canopies again and began walking up the Nicollet Mall.
While we were walking up the Nicollet Mall (in the streets) the police tried to block us from continuing our march. As they had not completed their barricade, they ordered us onto the sidewalks or risk arrest. Protesters complied with their request, and went onto the sidewalk. After passing through their failed barricade, most protesters remained on the sidewalk and continued heading North near the Target store on the Nicollet Mall. A few protesters took to the streets again but were met by mounted police (on horseback) shortly after crossing the intersection to continue North. Police then grabbed the canopy that these individuals were holding and began to bend the metal legs of it, whilst shaking the grips of protesters from it. Several protesters were knocked to the ground by the force of the police along with the fact that the mounted police were commanding their horses into the protesters. Those that remained in the streets were arrested.
While the police arrested the individuals in the streets, they also began to grab onto others that were standing upon the public sidewalk. These individuals had complied with the police, however several were still arrested without proper cause. During that time the mounted police then directed their horses onto the sidewalk itself in an attempt to intimidate and possibly injure those that were peacefully complying with their orders. I was one of those individuals. A Minneapolis Police Officer had grabbed me in what seemed to be an attempt to take me into custody, however a mounted officer began to direct his horse onto the sidewalk at that time. I was pushed into stanchions that were on the sidewalk (the stanchions were placed there to separate a restaurant’s patio from the main sidewalk itself) and as the horse pushed me, it was also kicking. If I did not have my bicycle in front of me blocking the hooves of the horse, I surely would have ended up being trampled.
During this time, across the street, Minneapolis Police Officers had grabbed onto the camera of a local reporter from KSTP. The reporter himself claims that he was assaulted. They threw his camera onto the ground and kicked it despite the fact that he had vocalized that he was with KSTP. The camera itself was ruined and his footage could not be salvaged.
According to our most recent confirmation, 9 individuals were arrested. We have been working to bail all of them out of jail tonight. After the confrontation with the police, we moved from the Nicollet Mall back to The People’s Plaza to debrief about our evening and hold a solidarity rally for those that were placed under arrest.
It concerns me that the city of Minneapolis had intentionally searched for a law to cite against us whilst claiming that they respected our First Amendment Rights. It is clear to see that the type of behavior that the Minneapolis Police Department showed to us is beyond aggression, it is clearly oppression. A reporter for a local media outlet had his camera ripped out of his hands tonight, which shows that the freedom of the press itself is not being respected. The Occupy Movement focuses upon using civil disobedience as a method of protest, and tonight’s marches were no different than those that we had last fall.
by Scott Thompson (email@example.com)
Yesterday several OSP [Occupy St. Paul] activists were present for the Re-Occupy event at Peavey Plaza and Loring Park in Minneapolis. As planned, members of OSP Tactical contributed to this event by providing non-violent bodyguard protection for citizen media. Unfortunately, that protection definitely turned out to be needed, as Minneapolis PD attacked not only citizen media but even the mainstream press:
Once again, the bodyguard tactic was a success–every media person with a bodyguard was able to avoid arrest and keep filming despite multiple arrests going on all around them.
The first action I participated in was the march to the home of US Bank CEO Richard Davis. The callous indifference of some members of the 1% was on full display on a Mazda Miata we passed in Mr. Davis’ neighborhood. In the midst of the most protracted economic crisis in many decades, the owner of this vehicle still displays a bumper-sticker with the phrase “will work for hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
When we reached the mansion belonging to Mr. Davis, there were twenty-two police squad cars, a police SUV and a paddy wagon in the immediate vicinity. I think we all know that you or I would not receive protection like that if we requested it!
Later that day at Peavey Plaza, we were informed that the police had dusted off an obscure ordinance from the early 70s to ban us from having any structures up in Peavey Plaza despite a prior court ruling that such structures were protected speech. The courts have already ruled that Occupy can put up tents in public spaces for the purpose of protest- the city can prevent us from sleeping in them, but not from putting them up. However, the Minneapolis PD apparently decided that their “public nuisance” ordinance trumped both the First Amendment and the courts.
When the police arrived to enforce this ordinance later that evening, we began to march through the streets carrying the tents in protest. Occupy marches in the street have always previously been tolerated by the Minneapolis PD. We reached Loring Park, where we found out that three Occupiers had been cited and released on arbitrary charges such as riding a bicycle in an area designated as a walkway. We were informed that the police intended to evict us from Loring Park, and there were a number of squad cars present.
We decided to march back to Peavey to try to re-claim that space. This was when we began using bodyguards for citizen media. I was watching out for Nick Rogue of Rogue Media, and one other member of OSP Tactical was watching out for an OSP livestreamer. (I’m not using names here because I haven’t asked them if that would be okay.) At Peavey, there were approximately thirty police on foot in the vicinity of the Plaza, along with three mounted police, many squad cars and a huge mobile command center.
After they informed us again that we would not be allowed to have tents in the park, we once again resumed marching. At a certain point, the police began to form a “kettle.” This is a police tactic where all escape routes are blocked off so protesters can either be trapped in one place or subjected to mass arrests. One of the prime duties of a non-violent bodyguard is to keep the livestreamers from getting caught in a kettle. I was able to spot the kettle forming and keep Nick Rogue on the outside of it so he could keep filming.
At this point, the mounted police suddenly flanked the marchers and blocked off the street, and the other police attacked the march from behind. One officer assaulted the Channel 5 cameraman as he was doing his job, destroying a video camera worth tens of thousands of dollars. Another video camera belonging to citizen media was also destroyed. Eleven Occupiers were arrested, and several sustained minor injuries from being tackled and slammed to the ground.
Nick Rogue showed great boldness in getting extremely close to the arrests in order to document what was happening. One mounted officer repeatedly rammed into him with her horse to try to intimidate him into moving away–the horse was actually so close to him at one point that it started trying to eat his hair, and he was only able to keep filming by holding on to a lamp-post with one arm. I confronted her verbally and insisted that she stop bumping the horse into him. Once he had the footage he needed, we got out of there.
The rest of the night was a vigil in front of the jail until we had succeeded in bailing out all of our arrested comrades by about six AM.
The events at Re-Occupy demonstrate that the determination of authorities to crush dissent extends even to physically assaulting members of the mainstream media and destroying their equipment. The importance of the bodyguard initiative for our own media is also going to be increasingly important as we move on into the spring.
I’ll close with a brief anecdote about our presence at this event. At one point when conferring with another member of OSP Tactical on the street, I heard one member of Occupy Minneapolis say to another: “Oh, those guys are from Occupy Saint Paul?”
The other guy replied “They’re all over the place, there’s a ton of them here tonight!”
In reality, there were only several of us, but I believe we made a real and valuable contribution.
Police first evicted folks from Peavey about 8ish before Capture the Flag got going. We chanted over the eviction notification. Tall Ben was leading chants hoarsely. All the media was there. Then people began grabbing tents. Liz quickly filled my car with stuff, and they took to the streets carrying tents, the symbol of the commons.
11 St. was blocked by an immense truck, the size of a trailer truck, labeled something like Command and Control Unit. It was eerie. The street I been up and down all day several times, suddenly sinister. Such over-kill, such a police state. Tall police cameras had been up for days at Peavey and there were 5 in Loring Park.
I watched the cops tear down the canopy and kitchen, glad I’d at least rescued the plastic plates. The bright spot was seeing one of the media guys filming the cops with his new night vision camera. Later he said they tried to arrest him for videotaping, but he got away.
They marched to Loring to strategize. I couldn’t find a parking place, and the woman cop who’d been decent in the day said she’d ticket me if I didn’t move. “We’re filming you just like you’re filming us.” Three mounted police had arrived in the dark. I drove home exhausted with cold feet, wet from the morning rain, and collapsed on the couch in C’s lap. I wished I’d had more sleep last night, and could have stayed with them longer.
At 11:30 Liz called saying they were in the old People’s Plaza strategizing and needed more people. It was too late to call people who have the large WAMM alert list.
They had been so active all day, setting up tents, tarps, banners in the rain and then in strong winds. There’s not words to describe how it felt seeing the police force come down so fast and strong in the dark, on trumped up ordinances. One of the guys who got arrested for asking for the names of police had spent the afternoon cooking rice and curried vegies for the “hot dog” meal. I was stunned by his knowledge of healthy eating, meditation and much more. His roasted curried vegies had the same spices as the Ghandi Mahal vegies, but minus the oily sauce.
Here’s the latest on Occupy MN facebook at midnight:
MPD just rammed horses into occupiers, pulled people off sidewalks and made arrests of peaceful protesters while we marched. 9 arrested, jail support vigil at the people’s plaza now.
The end of the day was such a contrast to the start, and to the early days of October. The class war was never going to be easy. Love you all. The food and support was wonderful. It was so good to see each of you out there. Polly
More by Polly Kellogg
For those who don’t use facebook, the evolving story appears there as it’s happening.
Melissa Hill has already won two $1500 lawsuits for being arrested for chalking at People’s Plaza; here’s her comment from last night.
Melissa Hill out of jail. 12 arrested tonight and everyone was bailed out. my wrists hurt really bad – rough arrest and handcuffing 🙁 no phone now until I can get my bag back on Monday from MPD and hopefully get my bike back too. Last, I saw some bikes being put in the mobile command center. I guess that’s what they spend all that homeland security money on buying a mobile command center freaky police state vehicle and then use it to steal bikes and tent stuff from peaceful protesters? city is crazy!
The Mobile Command Center was the size of a trailer truck that blocked the entire width of 11th St. outside Orchestra Hall. It’s dark blue with a neatly painted logo. It was the image I couldn’t get out of my mind all night. We have become a country of billion dollar, high tech surveillance that supports violent repression of dissent.
Those of us who support the 99% movement have our work cut out for us. We need to be able to talk about the police actions to other people. The occupiers share info on the national police repression on facebook on a daily basis. Tony Bouza’s article on out of control police and successes he’s had testifying against them is a good context for last nights events. Please share it:
The occupiers do brilliant media coverage. The attacks on journalists that were so dramatically documented with Amy Goodman’s arrest at the RNC are routine: At http://www.facebook.com/OccupyMN they show a Ch. 5 reporter being assaulted, which Ch. Did not report. See also http://roguemedia.org/
Here’s a compilation, hats off to Rogue Media Nick: