In the sixth week of direct action and civil disobedience led by the Minnesota Poor People’s Campaign, six protesters were arrested Monday evening (June 18) in the anteroom outside the office of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
Before the arrests, supporters of the campaign chanted, sang, and spoke about their vision for a community where police are not needed, and where investments in other resources is the new model for peace-keeping. Participating groups included many clergy members, and leaders from MPD150, the Rye House, the Center for Prophetic Imagination, Black Visions Collective, Black Lives Matter Twin Cities, and other community groups, including Veterans for Peace.
Monday’s protest involved about 150 demonstrators who gathered outside Minneapolis City Hall around 4 p.m. Simultaneously, Poor People’s Campaign organizers delivered to Minneapolis’s 13 city council members copies of MPD150’s detailed policy brief on the history of the Minneapolis Police Department and its alleged abuses, especially with regard to people of color and poor neighborhoods. Later, demonstrators moved into Minneapolis City Hall and up to the third-floor office of Frey, where six entered to build a makeshift gravesite – a pile of dirt representing those killed by police. The protesters occupied Frey's office, refusing to leave unless he signed a document committing to a moratorium on adding money to the police budget. Around 7 p.m. the majority of crowd left the building after a dispersal order from building security. By 8:30 p.m. the six who camped out in front of Frey’s office were arrested. They were cited and released without bail.
This last action brings the total number of arrests to 52 since the May 14 launch of the Minnesota Poor People’s Campaign, which is part of a national wave of non-violent civil disobedience and direct action. Nationally, more than 2,000 people have been arrested in almost 40 states in the revival of 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, championed by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Minnesota campaign has been gathering momentum, attracting larger crowds of supporters and capturing public attention. Week five’s actions resulted in the arrest of 15 protesters who blocked a major intersection in St. Paul in a demonstration demanding a $15 minimum wage for all workers in the city.