Protesters interrupt city meeting following encampment clearing

A Minneapolis city meeting abruptly ended Thursday when about 40 protesters showed up to voice concern over the handling of recent encampment evictions.

Protesters interrupted the planning commission meeting shortly after it started, voicing concerns over clearing a North Minneapolis homeless encampment earlier in the day. 

In a statement, the city said the encampment at 205 Girard Avenue North has long posed public safety and public health challenges, and that despite frequent visits by the city’s homeless response team, the majority of individuals living there have declined resources.

Advocates for the unhoused said the eviction was inhumane and cruel, claiming residents had less than five minutes to pack up and get out. As a result, most lost not only their shelter but warm weather gear, medications, food and personal documents.

The city disputes that, saying trespassing notices had been posted for some time and that they gave people ample time to gather important personal items.

"It's going to go down to 33 degrees tonight, and what do the Minneapolis Police do that are allegedly so short-staffed? They spend their whole day clearing out encampments," said Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality. "You can’t tell people don’t be somewhere. What are homeless people supposed to do? Evaporate? Disappear?"

Gross said they interrupted the meeting to get the attention of city leaders, and were disappointed that members didn’t stay and hear their concerns.

"They got up and ran out of the room," said Gross. "If you can’t hear the truth of what’s happening in our community... if that’s the case, you don’t deserve to sit on this commission."

The Minneapolis Planning Commission is mostly comprised of appointees and only one council member.