County will put up canopy for OccupyMN protestorsby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — Hennepin County has agreed to erect an open-air canopy on the county government center's south plaza in downtown Minneapolis where OccupyMN demonstrators have gathered for the past week.
Protestors said they would pitch tents on the plaza despite a ban on temporary structures. They say they're training to use non-violent civil disobedience if police arrest them. Many protestors have been staying in the plaza overnight using sleeping bags.
The county says sheriff's deputies will confiscate any pitched tents and return them later.
Officials rented the 20-by-30-foot canopy to show respect for protestors' First Amendment rights, said county administrator Richard Johnson.
"We're not objecting to anyone protesting, we're trying to keep the plaza open so people can use it as they wish," Johnson said. "We recognize people are sleeping overnight and we're just concerned about safety on Sixth Street, so we felt we should offer an alternative if we were going to restrict them from using that space."
The county will pay the canopy rental, at a cost of $600 a week.