October 8, 2011
Minneapolis, MN – With the theme of “People before profits” and inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, a similar occupation started on Oct. 7 at 9:00 a.m. in Minneapolis. The ongoing Minneapolis occupation is at Government Plaza (300 South 6th Street, downtown Minneapolis), which the Occupy MN movement has renamed “People’s Plaza.” Organizers are inviting people to come any time to learn more and to join the occupation.
As the occupation began at 9:00 a.m. and organizers set up tables for food, media, logistics, medical, and other basic occupation infrastructure, around 500 people were already gathered on the plaza. At 2:00 p.m. a sizeable group of people went on a march around downtown. The official kickoff rally started at 5:30 p.m. As people poured in after work, the crowd swelled to over a thousand.
The rally was started off by American Indian Movement leader Clyde Bellecourt. Spoken word artist and rapper Guante read a poem he had written inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement. Chris Mato Nunpa, a Dakota elder, expressed his support for this Occupy movement as it protests against Wall Street and capitalism, while also explaining how the word “occupy” has a very different meaning to Native people whose lands were occupied and stolen, including the land the rally was happening on, which was stolen from the Dakota people.
Steph Taylor from Students for a Democratic Society at the U of M spoke next, getting loud cheers when she talked about the massive student loan debt graduating students face. Teacher Chris Gray spoke about the massive cuts to public schools. Antonia Alvaro of Asamblea de Derechos Civiles spoke about the huge profits made from immigrant labor and immigrant imprisonment. Angel Buechner of the MN Coalition for a People’s Bailout and Welfare Rights Committee talked about the ongoing fight against poverty in Minnesota. Javier Morillo, President of SEIU Local 26, spoke about the attacks on unions and union members. Jess Sundin of the Anti-War Committee talked about the 10 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Farheen Hakeem of the Green Party talked about environmental destruction under this system and the need for political change. Northside activist Mel Reeves spoke about the need for fundamental change, and Nick Schillingford of Join the Impact spoke about the attacks on LBGTQ people. The president of the Minnesota Nurses Association and the President of National Nurses United also spoke, expressing nurses’ full support for the movement against Wall Street. It was also announced that AFSCME Council 5 had passed a resolution supporting OccupyMN and Occupy Wall Street movement.
After the rally, hundreds stayed for the General Assembly meeting and to occupy the People’s Plaza overnight. The occupation is continuing indefinitely, with many more rallies and marches targeting big banks and corporations being proposed for the coming this week.