Occupy protesters say city proposal meant to stop demonstrations

Nearly one week after a dozen Occupy Minneapolis protesters were arrested for marching in a downtown street, a city council member proposed a measure that Occupy members say is aimed directly at them.

An email from OccupyMN attributed the following quote to Occupy Minneapolis member Ben Egerman:

“It’s shameful that Mayor RT Rybak and Council president Barbara Johnson would attempt to ram through an attack on the civil rights and liberties of the citizens of Minneapolis, and a vulnerable homeless population, without so much as a public hearing on the issue. This sort of backroom surprise attack represents government at its worst.”

On the night of the arrests, members of the group set up tents in Peavey Plaza next to Orchestra Hall. Police later evicted the group. The city already has an anti-camping ordinance. This morning, Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson introduced a last-minute resolution that would essentially close public plazas in Minneapolis between midnight and 6 a.m. People would still be allowed to walk through the plazas as long as they did so ‘without delay.’

Council member Cam Gordon produced a blog post expressing his opposition. His Second Ward Blog post also includes the text of Johnson’s resolution. Council member Gary Schiff argued that the Johnson resolution should be treated as an ordinance because it proposes a new ticket-able offense. However, city attorney Susan Segal responded that the measure could be treated as a resolution.

Members of Occupy Minneapolis sat in the council chambers and cheered when the council voted to treat the resolution as a proposed ordinance. As a proposed ordinance the measure will go through the city’s committee process which will likely mean members of Occupy Minneapolis and others will get a chance to weigh in on it at a public hearing.

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