OccupyMN will sleep in plaza in defiance of county rule

OccupyMN protestors said they'll sleep in defiance of new rules Monday evening in Government Plaza, downtown Minneapolis.

Last week, the Hennepin County board banned sleeping, leaving unattended personal items, and taping signs to public property, effective Monday.

It's an attempt by county officials to chip away at protestors' First Amendment rights, said demonstrator Jason Sparks.

"We're forming an act of civil disobedience to show how unconstitutional this is. I think it's going to turn into a great act of civil disobedience by many," Sparks said.

Rules to protect public safety are constitutional, said County Board Chair Mike Opat. He said there have been longstanding rules against camping in Minneapolis and other cities. County officials will enforce rules to preserve public safety, but did not say if arrests would be made for breaking those rules.

Sleeping on the plaza is a First Amendment right, Sparks said.

"It's an attack on our constitutional rights. This doesn't just affect our movement. Once it's in place and everything is done and said, this affects everybody," Sparks said. "How are you going to do a protest to draw attention to homelessness if you want to come down here and do a sleep in? You're never going to be able to do it."

Protest organizers said they'll sue Hennepin County if necessary.

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