Minneapolis clears homeless camp near Quarry shopping center

Minneapolis crews Friday morning cleared a homeless camp that has been set up outside the Quarry shopping center for more than a year.

The camp was on city-owned land across the parking lot from the shops along New Brighton Blvd. Earlier this week, about a dozen tents, a portable toilet and a food donation drop-off area were at the site.

By 10 a.m. Friday, nearly half the Home Depot parking lot remained cordoned off and about eight police vehicles monitored the area. A bystander watching from his pickup truck said crews had arrived about 6:30 a.m. and most of the work was done by 8 a.m.

The site has hosted as many as 25 occupants at times, officials who work with the homeless have said. Six were there when crews arrived Friday morning.

The city posted signs at the camp Dec. 21 warning occupants to leave by Wednesday — a seven-day window. Over the weekend, posts circulated on social media urging people to show up to defend the encampment.

Minneapolis officials opted not to clear the camp right away in a move to de-escalate tensions with the protesters and campers. Five police officers suffered minor injuries in March 2021 when protesters tried to prevent the clearing of a camp at 205 Girard Av. N.

City officials said safety concerns prompted the decision to close the Quarry camp, noting fires on site, the freezing winter weather and minors living there. There have been more than 200 police calls to two addresses associated with the site in the past year, though police records do not distinguish between calls to the camp vs. the shopping center.

The calls have ranged from overdoses and suspicious activities to reports of gunfire and theft. Many were to check on local businesses at late hours.

Minneapolis shelters have the space to take in the occupants, city and county officials said. Those living at the site Friday declined transportation to the Catholic Charities’ Opportunity Center for support. Four left on foot and two were driven elsewhere, according to city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie.

Outreach workers seeking to help the occupants find shelter and other resources have visited the encampment for the past several months. Those who remained earlier this week had declined offers of shelter and storage, McKenzie said.