Sunday, November 20, 2011

Occupy Minneapolis Protesters Arbitrarily Evicted From Hennepin County Property

As city and county officials act across the country as part of a coordinated nationwide attack on the Occupy Movement, Occupy Minneapolis has also been experiencing the effects.

Since the Occupation of The People's Plaza (formerly the Hennepin County Government Center Plaza) began on October 7, people occupying the Plaza have periodically been "trespassed" by Plaza Security, under the authority of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners. Being "trespassed" means that the individual given the ticket is not allowed on the property for a determined number of days-- typically 365. Occupiers have been trespassed for a variety of incidents including fighting and public sex -- although some of those charges are currently being contested. Recently, however, the incidents leading to many Occupiers' trespass citations are of a increasingly questionable and arbitrary nature.

The night of November 19th, two Occupiers were issued trespass citations allegedly for fighting-- while the Occupiers in question were arguably not guilty of the stated offense. At least one of the Occupiers' involvement in the incident appears to have been peaceful in nature, in an attempt to break up an occurring altercation. After repeatedly avoiding answering clarifying questions regarding the reason for the trespass notice, one Plaza Security officer finally -- and seemingly reluctantly -- delivered the official cause: "We went and reviewed video, and clearly identified you as an aggressor on the tape." However, a few minutes later, the same officer told Jennifer that she was not acting aggressively when he explained, "I don't have to, but I'm going to tell you anyway, you were the only one out of all of these ones that were trespassed that was not being aggressive. You were actually trying to disengage the situation... and thank you for that. "

As is clear in the footage of the security guard attempting to explain the arbitrary and arguably unnecessary trespass notice that Jennifer was issued, the orders to find any and all reasons to evict protesters from occupations are clearly coming from a larger institutional force. While our local law enforcement has been generally respectful and non-violent toward our movement, it's become apparent that having them on our side doesn't mean that forces beyond our jurisdiction are equally as willing to protect our First Amendment rights. The fight to defend our own Constitutional Right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances remains one we must continue to fight vigilantly.