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Activists Fight With Police To ‘Defend’ Homeless Encampment

Minneapolis, MN – Minneapolis police clashed with protesters on Thursday morning as they tried to clear a homeless encampment in the 200-block of Girard Avenue North.

More than 100 protesters showed up to demonstrate after social media posts announced that the city intended to try to clear the area on March 18, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

It was the third time the city has attempted to clear the encampment that popped up after the homeless population was kicked out of the Minneapolis parks they were camping in.

Police began arriving at about 7 a.m. on Thursday morning and used police vehicles to block off the streets around the homeless encampment, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Multiple videos filmed by witnesses have been posted to social media that showed citizens attacking the police officers who were sent there to shut down the encampment.

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Videos showed that officers tried to arrest some of the activists for attacking them, and while they were struggling with them, other protesters attacked them from behind.

Police eventually pepper-sprayed the front line of protesters, arrested a few people, and then left the area without accomplishing their goal, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he wouldn’t tolerate attacks on police officers by protesters.

“From the limited video that I have seen, I was appalled by the actions of those community members that attacked my officers,” Chief Arradondo said. “I am thankful that they were not seriously injured.”

https://twitter.com/raszak76/status/1372563976396148736?s=20

Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) had posted eviction notices on Tuesday warning residents of the encampment that the area was being shut down, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

CPED said the homeless encampment had to be shut down due to “site contamination, fire hazards, and other health and safety risks.”

The agency said a bulk petroleum company used to occupy the spot where the encampment popped up and there are environmental concerns, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

And they said there was no reason for anyone to be camping outside because the city had the resources to accommodate them.

“Currently, there is enough capacity in the shelter system to provide alternative accommodation for everyone at the encampment,” CPED said in a statement. “As of [Tuesday] morning, there were 27 men’s shelter beds and 46 women’s shelter beds available in the shelter system. Outreach workers have been engaging with residents to connect them to shelter and housing resources and will continue to do so until the encampment is closed.”

A resident of the encampment, Mandla Xaba, said that after protesters stopped the city from tearing down the camp in February, he though they were going to “work together to reach a solution instead of just kicking people out,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

“This has been a model encampment,” Xaba said. “Given proper time and support, people can transition to permanent housing. It’s all we’ve been after, all we’ve been saying. The city’s just trying to save face. They’ve been lying to us.”

He said that many of the residents of the camp don’t want to live in shelters because of overcrowding and rules about alcohol and drugs, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

“There’s a long-running narrative that treats homelessness in our community like a math problem,” Xaba said.” It’s looking at a spreadsheet and saying we have X amount of beds available, so therefore people who are outside could opt to use those beds, and since they’re not, they’re making a choice not to go to shelter. And that’s a very reductive way of understanding what’s happening in people’s lives.”

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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