City crews start clearing fourth Camp Nenookaasi site in Minneapolis

People stand behind a yellow caution tape.
Camp Nenookaasi organizer Nicole Mason films police during a clearing of the recently relocated Camp Nenookaasi encampment in the East Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis on Thursday.
Tim Evans for MPR News

Updated: 1:20 p.m.

For the second time this week, city crews started clearing an encampment in south Minneapolis on Thursday morning.

The encampment on the 2200 block of 16th Avenue South is the fourth location of Camp Nenookaasi, which was originally located along Hiawatha Avenue. In August it moved to a site near the Phillips Community Center, which was cleared in early January. Its third site, near the intersection of 26th Street and 14th Avenue, was evicted on Tuesday.

A camp organizer, Christin Crabtree, told Sahan Journal on Thursday morning that about 100 people had been staying at the city-owned lot the past couple of days, and that they weren’t given advance notice of the closure.

A man and a police officer talk, separated by yellow police tape.
An encampment resident who has lived at Camp Nenookaasi’s various locations asks a Minneapolis police officer if he can retrieve his belongings during a clearing of the recently relocated encampment in the East Phillips neighborhood on Thursday. Though initially denied entry, he was eventually allowed in.
Tim Evans for MPR News

The city said there had been “no trespassing” signs on the locked and fenced lot when people first arrived Tuesday. They were re-posted on Wednesday, along with an order to vacate the site, the city said.

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On Thursday morning, Minneapolis police officers set up a perimeter around the encampment, as residents and volunteers started removing supplies and belongings from the site.

The city issued a statement Thursday morning saying it was taking action “due to imminent public safety concerns, including fire hazards and growing tensions between individuals within the camp and nearby residents.”

Officers stand up on grass while people walk by with supplies.
Minneapolis police secure a perimeter as people remove supplies and belongings during a clearing of the recently relocated Camp Nenookaasi encampment in the East Phillips neighborhood on Thursday.
Tim Evans for MPR News

It was unclear where people in the encampment on 16th Avenue South would go. When the previous location was cleared on Tuesday, city officials said the city offered free transportation to shelter locations, but none of the camp residents used it.

At its various locations, Camp Nenookaasi has housed predominantly Native people. Volunteers intended for it to be a safe and culturally responsive place for people, particularly those with substance use disorders who were not willing to live in traditional shelter settings, where drug use is often prohibited.

At a city council committee meeting Wednesday, several camp residents and volunteers showed up to support the camp and call on city officials to find more homelessness solutions.

Correction (Feb. 1, 2024): A previous version of this story did not list all of the previous locations of Camp Nenookaasi. The story has been updated.