Hennepin County commissioner: It’s against CDC ‘guidance’ to disperse homeless camps

A woman choked a police officer and protesters barricaded a street with dumpsters as Minneapolis police tried to clear out a Near North homeless encampment.

A homeless encampment in Minneapolis' Near North neighborhood (JDDuggan/YouTube)

Hennepin County Commissioner Irene Fernando said that police removing homeless encampments from neighborhoods is both racist and against CDC guidelines.

“I oppose the eviction of encampments, in keeping with CDC guidance,” Fernando said in a statement after the Minneapolis Police Department broke up a homeless camp located in the Near North neighborhood early Thursday morning.

“MPD’s actions at the Near North encampment, while unrelated to the Chauvin trial, also seem to continue the trend of criminalizing marginalized people while forcibly asserting control over physical spaces,” she continued.

Instead of removing homeless camps, Fernando wants MPD to “end the practice of employing force to traumatize and displace our unhoused neighbors.”

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s daughter, Isra Hirsi, posted a video of the force MPD employed. The 30-second clip lacks context, but appears to show police engaged in a scuffle with a couple of men on a sidewalk near the camp.

The situation may have been inflamed by protesters who attempted to impede police from dismantling the camp. At one point, the demonstrators obstructed a roadway with dumpsters and a woman “jumped on the back of an officer and began to choke him” as 25-30 people were “actively challenging officers,” MPD said in a statement.

“People began walking around the squad cars and one suspect physically attacked an officer. Officers attempted to arrest the attacker who continued to be actively assaultive.    Additional suspects surrounded officers as they attempted to arrest the suspect who attacked the officer,” the statement continued.

The department said responding officers, some of whom were “tackled from behind” and “punched in the face,” sent a call to all precincts for backup. Additionally, MPD said it was helping the Minneapolis Health Department clear the camp because of “site contamination, fire hazards, and other health and safety risks.”

Hirsi and others recruited participants for this anti-police action on social media.

The city’s attempt to remove the camp should not have come as a surprise. A video report about the encampment produced by reporter JD Duggan appears to show an eviction notice and no trespass warning presented at the camp prior to its removal.

These messages were apparently distributed around the camp at one point. (YouTube/JDDuggan)

The Near North neighborhood that housed the camp experiences about 475% more violent crime than the national average, according to AreaVibes, a statistical aggregation website.