Among the most indelible memories of Dinkytown for students who were at the University in early 1970 is what has come to be known as the Dinkytown Uprising. It was in part a protest against the Vietnam War and the police shootings at Kent State; part a protest against the proposed construction of a fast-food burger restaurant called the Red Barn that students felt was a corporate invader in the quaint Dinkytown neighborhood.
The protests would last for 40 days.
Al Milgrom, a longtime fixture in the University scene and founder of the MSP Film Society, penned an opinion piece for the Star Tribune newspaper on May 5, 2020 about the uprising’s 50-year anniversary:
“During April and early May , a confederacy of students managed to live in the ‘People’s Hotel,’ dine at a makeshift ‘People’s Diner’ (with a free daily menu of donated and moonlight-requisitioned food), set up a hospital unit, a meeting space, and a phone network. Despite persistent rumors of imminent police action, the lively society daily attracted citywide tourists and U students who either skipped classes or held campus sit-ins.”
On May 6, 1970, the occupation was broken up by riot police called in to restore order by Minneapolis Mayor Charles Stenvig. After razing the buildings, the restaurant was ultimately never built.
PHOTO CREDIT: @STARTRIBUNE
A group of students offered free food at a “People’s
Picnic” in front of some of the Dinkytown buildings
scheduled to be torn down
PHOTO CREDIT: DUANE BRALEY / STAR TRIBUNE
Minnesota Dance Theater,
which was based in
Dinkytown at the time,
during the uprising.
PHOTO CREDIT: R. BERTRAIND HEINE / STAR TRIBUNE
Protesters camped at the
intended Burger Barn
site after it was cleared,
renaming it the “People’s
Park.” Some even called
themselves “residents” and
cared for the lawn and flowers. The burger restaurant
that sparked the protests
was ultimately never built.