Wall Street protests apparently spreading to Minneapolis, other cities
MINNEAPOLIS A movement whose protests against Wall Street, corporations, the U.S. government and political parties have resulted in hundreds of arrests nationwide is coming to Minneapolis this week. The cofounder of an amorphous group called Occu...
A movement whose protests against Wall Street, corporations, the U.S. government and political parties have resulted in hundreds of arrests nationwide is coming to Minneapolis this week.
The cofounder of an amorphous group called OccupyMN said on Sunday that 500 to 1,000 protesters will take over Government Plaza in downtown Minneapolis at 9 a.m. Friday.
They plan to stay as long as authorities will allow them -- possibly weeks, they say -- in sympathy with similar "occupations" in Manhattan and elsewhere.
"We are definitely in it for the long haul," said Osha Karow, 23, who helped start the movement about 10 days ago.
OccupyMN has been meeting for days to plan what it refers to as the "Minnesota occupation." At first, it planned to protest outside the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. After consulting on Saturday, it changed the location to Government Plaza, between Minneapolis City Hall and the Hennepin County Government Center.
"The plaza is more of a communal space," Karow said on Sunday. "It's more open; it's more symbolic."
The goal, he said, is to "reclaim" Government Plaza, the site of a Hiawatha line light-rail station, as the "People's Plaza."
About 150 people attended a rally and planning session on Saturday, he said. The group recently set up a website ( www.occupymn.org ), a Facebook page and a Twitter account; as of Sunday night, it had more than 1,750 "likes" on Facebook and about 1,000 followers on Twitter.
"We are trying to be transparent, because we want to be totally nonviolent," Karow told the Star Tribune in an earlier interview. "We want everyone to know what our intentions are, and we also want everybody and anybody to be involved in the process."
The local efforts are aimed at supporting and strengthening the Occupy Wall Street protest movement, which has drawn thousands to New York City's financial district over the past few days. Protests have also spread to Los Angeles, Boston, Cleveland and Providence, R.I.
New York's Occupy Wall Street demonstration, now entering its third week, started out small, with less than a dozen college students spending days and nights in Zuccotti Park, a private plaza off Broadway. The protesters have spent most of their time in the plaza, sleeping on air mattresses, holding assemblies and listening to speakers, including celebrity activist Michael Moore.
On the past two Saturdays, though, they marched to other parts of the city, which led to tense standoffs with police. On Sept. 24, about 100 people were arrested and the group put out video that showed women being hit with police pepper spray. On Saturday, more than 700 people were arrested as they tried to cross to the Brooklyn Bridge.
OccupyMN has a liaison negotiating with the Minneapolis Police Department about Friday's occupation, Karow said.
Police spokesman Sgt. Steve McCarty said police action will be determined by the protesters' actions.
In general, it is not illegal to spend the night in public parks or plazas, he said. "It doesn't become a problem until they starting blocking access or start causing a disturbance," McCarty said. "It is something we will deal with at the time."
Karow said Minnesota's protest will draw participants from all walks of life, including college students and union supporters.
Karow, a former Southwest Minnesota State University student who recently moved to Minneapolis from Marshall, Minn., said OccupyMN does not consider itself an organization or organized group.
"We are a leaderless movement," he said. "Everybody's welcome to join. My goal is a peaceful, nonviolent occupation."
The Associated Press and Star Tribune staff writer Randy Furst contributed to this report.
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