Minneapolis latest site of Occupy Wall Street-styled protest
The Occupy Wall Street movement that’s drawn tens of thousands of people into the streets at actions across the country is spreading to Minnesota today, with an occupation of Hennepin County Government Plaza in downtown Minneapolis set to start at 9 a.m.
The protesters have been communicating their intent with the city, Minneapolis Police Department and Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department. They said they’ve been assured that they won’t be arrested for staying in the plaza overnight.
In a statement posted on their website Thursday, protesters said they intend to stay indefinitely:
“If you are struggling; if have lost your job, or your home; if you have seen your child unjustly incarcerated; if you are homeless, living without healthcare, or drowning in debt; if you work full time but still are unable to afford food to feed your family; if you feel no one is listening to you; if you are fed up with the direction this country is going in — then you are one of the 99%. We are talking to you. Come and join us! This is your chance to be heard.”
Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak posted a sympathetic note on his blog, noting that protesters have thus far approached the occupation respectfully.
“I don’t know how it will go, but I fully understand why people are angry right now about economic equity,” Rybak wrote. “Our economy is especially unequal for people of color, who have slipped further in this recession, and young people, who are coming out of school with too much debt and not enough jobs.”
Rybak cited a slate of city programs that he said could counter the economic decline, and argued that Pres. Barack Obama’s jobs bill needed to be passed.
“Most importantly, at a time when so many people are hurting, and we wonder about our economic future, we all have to get up off the sidelines and help bring more fairness back to our state and country,” Rybak wrote. “We may not all agree with what we hear, but the good news is that more and more people are unwilling to silently watch the inequity get worse.
The international AFL-CIO threw its weight behind Occupy Wall Street earlier in the week, urging members to “open our union halls and community centers as well as our arms and our hearts to those with the courage to stand up and demand a better America.” On Thursday, the Minnesota AFL-CIO posted an endorsement on their website: “Tomorrow, we can join with those who feel the same way at the Occupy MN kickoff. We hope to see you there as we stand in solidarity with determined to hold Wall Street accountable and create good jobs.”