Minneapolis, MN - The Hennepin County Government Plaza - known now as the People’s Plaza - sprouted several tents on the evening of Oct. 15. At this writing, dozens are risking arrest to defend protesters’ rights to have safe and warm shelter for overnight stays at Occupy Minnesota. Since the occupation began on Oct. 7, county officials have said that no tents of shelters would be allowed.
At 4:00 p.m. hundreds attended a rally at People’s Plaza. Meanwhile, knots of people around the vast space were busy meeting and planning for shelters. Shortly after the rally started, groups of occupiers marched by the crowd, holding above their heads wood-framed pup-tents covered with clear polyethylene tarp. The message of the tents was, “Unlike the 1%, we are transparent about what we are doing.
After speeches, the chanting crowd marched, following the tent bearers, to the south side of the Hennepin Government Center building. That block features a grassy lawn where many have been sleeping in good weather; on rainy nights, occupiers slept on concrete under the building’s overhangs.
Occupiers carried the tents to the center of the lawn. Protesters determined to defend the tents sat in a circle around the encampment and joined arms. The rest of the crowd circled around them. Other tents were erected as well. The mike was passed from occupier to occupier and they explained the many reasons that they were risking arrest by defending the tents. Three hours later, no one was arrested and the tents still stood.
At 8:00 p.m., as light rain began, Sarah Martin, 71, of Women Against Military Madness - and one of the activists targeted for a Gran Jury subponea on anti-war and international solidarity activists - told Fight Back!, “My intention is to stay here through the night and defend the tents. This is our public place. I’m here because we are in a fiscal mess, and because of the wars abroad. We are part of a larger movement worldwide. We have a range of ages and diversity here and this is the one moment of truth, right now.”