MINNEAPOLIS — People in a distressed homeless encampment have filed a federal lawsuit against Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey seeking to halt their eviction, currently scheduled for Jan. 4.
A class action lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court by Cheryl Sagato and DeAnthony Burns, residents of Camp Nenuokashi, alleges that Frey “evicted them, evicted them, and left them in the harsh Minnesota winter.” “I’m trying to get it out,” he said. Plaintiffs said that without a proper plan to house the displaced, people living in the camps would have their tents, yurts, teepees and other shelters destroyed and their belongings trashed. It added that ceremonial fires and other sacred sites in the camp would be desecrated.
“Given Minneapolis’ long and brutal history of encampment clearing and the deadly frigid winter ahead, Frey’s planned eviction is dangerous,” the complaint states. “Plaintiffs not only face irreparable harm, they understandably fear for their lives.”
The camp is located at the corner of South 13th Street and East 23rd Street in the Phillips neighborhood, near the Indian Task Force. The Task Force on Indian Affairs provides a variety of health and education services to Native American individuals and their families. Two previous dates set to clear the camp were canceled after residents and their representatives asked for more time.
City officials announced in late December that Camp Nenuokashi would close on January 4, citing “ongoing public safety and health concerns,” including recent shootings, crime and drug use. In the announcement, the city cited plans to add 90 beds to the existing shelter system to accommodate evacuees.
But the complaint says residents are already working with social workers and elected officials to provide them with warm shelter, food, community, and cultural healing, and that Camp Nenuokasi is a “housing stabilization center.” “It is an important stepping stone toward alcohol consumption and abstinence,” he said.
“We’ve been here for five months, begging the mayor to come to the table and come up with a solution, and he still hasn’t even visited the camp,” said a member of the Red Lake Nation who founded the camp. , Nicole Mason said. Nenookashi as a refuge for those seeking healing and recovery from addiction. “We’re looking for long-term housing solutions. We’re not going to stay here. We don’t want this to go on forever.”
Plaintiffs Sagato and Burns accuse Frey of overseeing routine clearing of homeless camps since taking office in 2018, with “grave brutality and little support for displaced residents.” ing. They argue that the seizure and destruction of people’s property is unconstitutional, that the eviction process puts people at risk of imminent harm, and that closing the camps constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction against Frey and the city of Minneapolis to prevent them from leaving the camp, as well as unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
When asked for reaction to the lawsuit, city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie issued the following statement:
The city intends to close the camp as soon as Thursday. For several months, the City has been working with community partners and service providers to provide housing and shelter options to local residents in the camps. The city has already pushed back the closing date twice to allow time to work with service providers and connect people directly to housing and shelter options.
To date, 104 people in the camp have been connected to housing or shelter. With help from Hennepin County and the state of Minnesota, the Salvation Army and Rescue Now plan to add 90 beds to the shelter system this week. The Hennepin Shelter Hotline will work with Adult Shelter Connect to help people access these additional beds as well as beds available in existing shelters. The city’s homeless response team has worked with nearly 100 unsheltered people to provide them with information about services and resources, including her 15 housing referrals to outreach providers.
All members of our camp are entitled to safe and dignified housing. You can’t do that in a camp, especially in the winter. Additionally, the city must address ongoing public health and safety issues, including recent encampment homicides and infant deaths.
Pre-development activities for the new Indigenous Community Center will begin after the camp closes. The Indigenous Peoples Task Force (IPTF) has a redevelopment agreement with the city for the site where the Mikwanedun Odiskkon Arts and Wellness Center will be built, and the acquisition is expected to be completed in February.
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