dinkytown minneapolis


Red Barn Occupation: The 1970 Dinkytown Uprising

Amid protests of the Vietnam War across the country, particularly on college campuses, Minneapolis experienced a large-scale protest of their own—the war on Dinkytown. In 1970, when national fast food chain Red Barn planned to demolish a section of buildings in Dinkytown (at 1307-1311 SE 4th St.), students, and others, took action to prevent new construction and preserve the history of the area. The 40-day, 40-night occupation, which started on April 1, 1970, brought hundreds of protesters to the area. Defenders promised to take any measure necessary to prevent demolition of the shops and erection of a Red Barn.

On May 6, 1970, helicopters circled as police arrived. Demonstrators were cleared from the site and the bulldozers moved in. After demolition, city officials declared that the wrecking permit to demolish the Dinkytown site for a Red Barn was invalid, which could prevent the fast food chain from building. In June 1971, Red Barn bowed out. The restaurant was never built, but a retail store was built in its place in 1972.

Today, Dinkytown faces a similar fight, as citizens work to prevent the development boom from further expanding into the Dinkytown area.

A new documentary, The Dinkytown Uprising, chronicles the Red Barn protest. It will premiere at this year’s Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival 2015 (MSPIFF), which started this week. The film is directed by Al Milgrom, founder of the Film Society of Minneapolis/St. Paul, longtime MSPIFF programmer, and independent film director. This is his first feature-length film.

The Dinkytown Uprising will show at the St. Anthony Main Theatre on Sunday April 12, 6 p.m. and Monday, April 20, 2 p.m.