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Closing of the Minneapolis Homeless Encampment, Camp Nenookaasi, due Thursday

The controversy surrounding the closure of Nenookaasi Camp has finally been concluded on Thursday, 4th Jan 2024. 

 

The Background 

The camp is situated in the city’s Ventura Village neighborhood and has served as a home for hundreds of homeless since August 2023. Most of the occupants are natives after they were displaced from the “Wall of Forgotten Natives” in August. 

The residents were displaced from the encampment due to safety concerns of the surrounding residents. The transport department of Minnesota, which owned the land, gave the residents a notice regarding the closure of the camp, situated along Highway 55, in August.

The Reason behind the Closure

The Camp, which was officially decided to be closed on Dec 14, was delayed to Dec 19, which further got delayed until Jan 4. The main reason behind the closure of the Camp includes the shooting and killing of a man named Tyrone Mohr, 45, that took place in Nenookaasi in December. He was shot multiple times and died at the Hennepin County Medical Center. The police could not find the motive of the shooting. Along with this, the police had received up to 90 calls in August regarding mis happenings in the area, making the place unsafe. 

The Decision

Louise Matson, the vice chair of the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors, claimed the place to be unsafe and medically unfit for vulnerable people needing medical as well as housing attention. He stated the place to be an attraction of “all kinds of predators.” Therefore, as a decision to safeguard the camp’s residents as well as the neighbors, MUID decided to close the Camp. 

The Community members of the Camp held a gathering on Thursday before the closure. The gathering was organized along with breakfast and prayer by the community members, neighbors and faith leaders in support of the residents to make the city reconsider its decision.

Failure of efforts to halt the closure 

Many of the homeless were able to gain shelter in the Camp before its closure. The activists and the Camp occupants have been trying their best since December to stop the clearing.

The Camp organizers posted a news release regarding the occupants filing a federal lawsuit against the Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Frey. The news was released on Tuesday which mentioned two Camp residents- Cheryl Sagataw and Deanthony Banres as the representatives of the residents. The lawsuit demanded a permanent stop to the eviction of the Camp, calling it a reckless move by the city, which has destroyed the shelter of the residents.

The hearing was held on Wednesday, with four city representatives on behalf of the mayor whereas Attorney Kira Kelly on behalf of the two representatives of the Camp. Unfortunately, the decision was taken in favor of the mayor by denying any further pause on Thursday’s eviction.

The Camp organizers and the activists have constantly pressurized the city to first provide the residents with housing, delaying the clearing. Nearly 160 of the occupants remain unhoused against the 104 being housed. 

Plans for the Camp

After the closure of the Camp, the city has planned to develop the area. After an agreement was signed between the Indigenous Peoples Task Force and the city, the construction of the Mikwanedun Audisookon Art and Wellness Center is under process.

The ongoing confusion of both the residents and activists regarding the closure of the Camp is a struggle to encounter homelessness in the city. The pressure on the city to provide safe shelter to the displaced is an ongoing effort.

 

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