‘Riot equipment’ box found at Occupy MN, group blames provocateur
At the site of the almost three-week long Occupy Wall Street demonstration in Minneapolis, Hennepin County security made a strange discovery Monday: a box filled with rocks and labeled “riot equipment.”
Organizers with Occupy Minnesota deny that any protesters were connected to the box, saying it was the action of a “provocateur.”
“It seems like the motivation is either to make us look bad, or he doesn’t seem to be entirely like he knows exactly what he’s doing,” Occupy Minnesota spokesperson April Lukes-Streich told the Minnesota Independent. ”We’ve informed the Sheriff’s Department that we know they’re not part of our group, so far they haven’t reacted much to that, and we will be keeping an eye out and we absolutely don’t condone that kind of behavior.”
Occupy Minnesota organizers stressed that the movement has been non-violent since its inception.
A spokesperson from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department sent out a press release with photos of the box Monday night: ”The Sheriff’s Office is investigating. This incident is a concern for the safety of all citizens at the Government Center, those who work at the Government Center, and law enforcement officers.”
The press release also listed more than a dozen incidents that the Sheriff’s Department said were “related to the demonstration,” ranging from medical assistance for a man who was extremely intoxicated to three people running around the plaza “wearing underwear.”
An Occupy Minnesota organizer said many of the incidents were unrelated to the protest.
“These are things that happen downtown late at night, regardless of whether there’s an occupation occurring,” Lukes-Streich said. “Since the majority of these incidents can not be attributed to members of Occupy Minnesota, I do think it’s unfair.”
Seven Occupy protesters were voluntarily arrested after blocking traffic outside the U.S. Bank building last week during a protest against foreclosures.
Members of Occupy Minnesota have been meeting daily with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department. Occupiers have asked Hennepin County to allow them to erect tents as winter approaches, but authorities are standing firm on the tent ban.
A number of events are taking place at the Hennepin County Government Plaza in coming days, including a Wednesday march on U.S. Bank to demand the bank negotiate with a homeowner who is facing foreclosure.