MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Residents of the Nenookaasi camp in Minneapolis have filed a lawsuit against Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey in hopes of stopping their eviction.
The class action lawsuit filed on Tuesday in U.S. District Court alleges encampment evictions violate the residents' rights afforded to them by the U.S. Constitution and state Constitution, with a press release stating "There is no process provided for residents to contest the eviction or to collect their possessions and property in the event of an eviction."
The lawsuit is seeking permanent relief from the court and an order against any eviction action by Mayor Frey. Previously, Frey had threatened to clear the camp on Dec. 14 and Dec. 19, 2023, the release notes.
The Nenookaasi camp was established in August 2023 on a city-owned lot on the corner of 13th Avenue South and East 23rd Street in Minneapolis' Phillips neighborhood. It aims to support harm reduction, healing and cultural wellness, and around 100 former residents have transitioned into housing, the release says. Currently, about 150 residents are still living in the camp.
The lawsuit alleges systematic government brutality and displacement of Indigenous people, noting the way the city carries out the encampment evictions — armed law enforcement, bulldozing and destroying residents' belongings, and spraying chemical irritants, among other tactics — "amounts to a penalty, harm, and/or punishment that Defendant Frey and his law enforcement officers impose or threaten to impose."
The lawsuit aims to end this cycle, a release says.
Statement from Minneapolis
In a statement to FOX 9, a spokesperson for the city said:
"The City still intends to close the encampment on Thursday. For months, the City has worked with community partners and service providers to connect community members at the encampment with housing and shelter options. The City has postponed the closure date two times already in order to allow dedicated time to work with service providers and get people directly connected to housing and shelter options.
"To date, 104 people from the encampment have been connected to housing or shelter. With help from Hennepin County and the State of Minnesota, Salvation Army and Rescue Now has plans to add 90 beds to the shelter system this week. Hennepin Shelter Hotline, in partnership with the Adult Shelter Connect, will help people access these additional beds as well as beds that become available in existing shelters. The City’s Homeless Response Team has engaged with nearly 100 unsheltered individuals to provide information on services and resources, including 15 housing referrals to outreach providers.
"All of our encampment members deserve safe and dignified housing. An encampment – especially in winter – does not provide that. Additionally, the City must address the ongoing public health and safety issues, like a recent homicide at the encampment and the death of an infant.
"After the encampment is closed, pre-development activity for a new, Indigenous community center will start. The Indigenous Peoples Task Force (IPTF) has a redevelopment agreement with the City for the site to construct the Mikwanedun Audisookon Art and Wellness Center and is planning to complete the purchase in February."
You can read the full lawsuit below.