Resolution Targeting “Occupy” Use of Plazas

Cross-posted from http://secondward.blogspot.com

Post by by Cam Gordon, Minneapolis City Council Member (Second Ward)

Council President Barb Johnson [Fourth Ward] has shared a resolution that she will be moving at tomorrow’s Council meeting. The intent of this action appears to be to prohibit Occupy MN protesters from using City-controlled public plazas. The full text is below the fold.

I will vote against this resolution. It clearly goes against another resolution that the Council adopted last October, “Supporting Peaceable Calls for Reforms to the Income Tax, Financial, and Electoral Systems.” It puts the City on the wrong side of civil liberties, including freedom of expression. Because any such move by the City will be viewed – rightly – by the Occupy movement as a direct attack on them, it positions the City on the side of the 1% against the 99%. It is clearly designed to send a message that Occupiers will be arrested, giving the MPD a green light (and proactive political cover) for more of the mass arrest events like we saw last Saturday.
This isn’t necessary, and it isn’t a good idea, and it isn’t right. Rather then finding ways to [stifle] and silence this movement, I [believe] that we should be exploring ways to help ensure that its message is heard and that its work to bring more economic justice to our community and country can move forward.

I will vote no, and hope that a majority of my colleagues join me.

Resolution establishing rules for public plazas owned or controlled by the City of Minneapolis

WHEREAS, the City of Minneapolis owns a number of public plaza, including but not limited to Peavey Plaza, Riverfront Plaza, Cedar-Riverside Plaza, Loring Greenway and Nicollet Mall (the “Plazas”)’

WHEREAS, the City desires to protect and enhance public use and enjoyment of the Plazas as well as to protect public health and safety;

WHEREAS, the City further desires to coordinate uses of the Plazas granted by permit with the use of the plazas by individuals; and

WHEREAS, the City respects and desires to protect and enhance all lawful uses of the Plazas, including uses involving the exercise of first amendment rights;

Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved by the City Council of the City of Minneapolis:

That in addition to applicable state and federal laws and regulations and City ordinances and permits, use of the Plazas shall be subject to the following rules:

1. These rules shall apply to plazas owned or controlled by the City, including but not limited to: Peavey Plaza, Riverfront Plaza, Cedar-Riverside Plaza, Loring Greenway and Nicollet Mall (the “Plazas”);

2. The Plazas shall be available for the use and enjoyment of the public between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 12:00 midnight. Outside of those hours, the Plazas shall be available only for the purpose of traveling through the plaza without delay;

3. Use of the Plazas for camping, sleeping or any living accommodation purposes is prohibited. This prohibition includes preparations to sleep such as setting down bedding or laying [sic] down on the ground for the purposes of sleeping;

4. Personal property or possessions may not be left unattended or stored on the Plazas. Any unattended or stored personal property or possessions may be removed pursuant to M.C.O. 427.100;

5. No portable toilets or cooking or fire building devices are allowed on the Plazas, except as specifically allowed in a permit issued under City ordinances subject to any conditions specified therein;

6. Any persons not in compliance with the above rules shall be provided a copy of the rules and given a reasonable amount of time to comply. If the person(s) have not complied with these rules after a reasonable amount of time has passed, they may be issued a written notice of trespass for the pertinent plaza by the chief of police or the chief’s designee. The notice of trespass may not exceed one month. After being served with a notice of trespass, if a person remains on or is found on the pertinent plaza in violation of the notice of trespass, the person may be arrested for trespass.

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