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Published November 14, 2011, 07:26 PM

Minneapolis Occupy Protest Faces New Rules: No Sleeping

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Some anti-Wall Street protesters who have spent more than a month occupying a government plaza in Minneapolis were preparing Monday night to test new restrictions that they contend are an attempt to silence them.

By: Associated Press,

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Some anti-Wall Street protesters who have spent more than a month occupying a government plaza in Minneapolis were preparing Monday night to test new restrictions that they contend are an attempt to silence them.

The protest on the plaza between the Hennepin County Government Center and Minneapolis City Hall has been mostly peaceful, with only a few arrests for such things as public urination and drunkenness. But new rules that took effect Monday forbid fixed placement of signs and overnight sleeping, though there is no designated curfew.

"We feel that they're trying to silence us and we are going to stay here as long as we can," said Sam Richards, who was among about 100 people who showed up for an evening rally on the plaza, which covers about a half-block.

Richards, 20, of Minneapolis, said he had slept overnight most nights since the protest began Oct. 7. He said he was prepared to be arrested.

"It's our right to be here," Richards said. "We haven't been violent."

Michelle Sommers of the local Amalgamated Transit Union representing Twin Cities bus and light-rail train drivers took the microphone at the rally and said union members were prepared to be arrested, too.

"We are not handcuff virgins in the union movement," Sommers told the crowd.

Law enforcement officials have adopted a mostly non-confrontational approach in Minneapolis, with the most notable clash early on when deputies took down tents they had warned protesters they couldn't put up. Sheriff Rich Stanek has held daily meetings with protesters and said his philosophy was not to engage with what he called "the 1 percent" that want to make trouble.

Stanek sounded the same note Monday when he was asked how deputies would handle protesters who attempt to sleep on the plaza. Stanek said it was up to county security personnel to enforce the rules, and deputies would make arrests if they were asked to do so.

"I don't think anyone wants conflict," Stanek said. "Things have gone well up to this point."

Protesters planned a short march and then a sleep-in.

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Associated Press writer Doug Glass contributed to this report.

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