Skip to main content

Minnesota lawmaker condemned for comparing homelessness to camping

The Grand Rapids senator's comments have been denounced by Twin Cities leaders.
Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 6.50.29 AM

A Minnesota senator is under fire after he posted a video on Twitter in which he posited why campgrounds in northern Minnesota aren't allowed to open while homeless people can camp in the Twin Cities.

Sen. Justin Eichorn (R-Grand Rapids) shot the short video in St. Paul in front of a homeless encampment, noting that "as you can see behind me, we've got a nice little tent city set up here."

"Unfortunately in Greater Minnesota, Governor Walz has campground shutdown," he continues. "Governor this is an appeal to you, please open up campgrounds in northern Minnesota. If you're okay with this, we should certainly be okay with our resorts in northern Minnesota campgrounds being open."

His tweet also read: "How is camping on the streets of St Paul any safer then your family camping up North? Time to safely open up campgrounds in MN."

After noting his disappointment that the Boundary Waters is currently closed to overnight camping, he went on to say "it's also unfortunate this is how our homeless people have to live right now."

The video has since been deleted, but not before it was saved by the Minnesota DFL.

The video drew swift condemnation from Twin Cities and state lawmakers, with St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter calling it "disgusting," while the Senate DFL Caucus issued a statement saying: "Living in a tent on the streets because you're experiencing homelessness is not a fun vacation outing.

"We have a housing crisis – which was exacerbated by the pandemic. Senator Eichorn is using our most vulnerable Minnesotans experiencing homelessness for political posturing."

Trista MatasCastillo, District 3 Ramsey County Commissioner, wrote a thread on Twitter noting how the COVID-19 pandemic has caused homeless shelters to reduce their capacity by as much as 75 percent to preserve social distancing.

"Many are in tents alone because they feel it's safer than a cot adjacent to a dozen others," she wrote. "Instead of trying to force the Governor to reject the advice of scientists and doctors and promote unsafe behavior, Sen. Eichorn should focus on getting us the resources to help our fellow Minnesotans in their time of greatest need."

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

In a statement later given to the Star Tribune, Eichorn said his video "may have missed the mark," but said his aim was to "attempt to convince the Governor to take heed of the dismal economic conditions folks in my district and across Minnesota are facing."

Currently under the Stay at Home order, which is in place till May 18, all private and public campgrounds are closed to recreational camping.

The closures do not apply to those who use the campsite as their primary residence, or seasonal renters who maintain personal property at the site.

Next Up


Minnesota health officials warn monkeypox cases could grow rapidly

The state has so far confirmed only six cases of monkeypox virus.


Sheriff: 2 kids dead in Vadnais Lake, search continues for 3rd child, mother

"A horrible set of facts appears to be developing," said Sheriff Bob Fletcher.

Pixabay laptop keyboard phone dark

Charges: Duluth man had hundreds of child porn images, videos

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children found nearly 330 images on the man's electronic devices.

hennepin county sheriff water patrol lake minnetonka

Scuba diver found dead in Lake Minnetonka identified as 20-year-old

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office said 20-year-old Brady Alan Aune, from Elko New Market, died of freshwater drowning on June 3.

Screen Shot 2022-06-30 at 11.18.35 AM

Felony charges filed after authorities search 'Peacebunny Cottage'

The president of the rabbit rescue non-profit faces multiple animal cruelty charges after over 40 rabbits were found dead inside the organization's barn.

monkeypox virus

Minnesota up to 6 confirmed cases of monkeypox virus

Most people recover at home within 2-4 weeks.

thc edibles

Did Minnesota just accidentally legalize THC?

A Republican lawmaker who voted to approve the new law in May is already talking about rolling it back.

Screen Shot 2022-06-30 at 3.19.42 PM

Gasoline may be cause of sewer explosion on U of M campus

An all-clear was given around 9 p.m. Thursday, with residents in the area allowed to return to their homes.


Overwhelming demand for THC products on first day of new law in MN

One shop owner said his Chaska store broke the online sales record before they opened Friday morning.

Flickr - Lake Minnetonka boat - Greg Gjerdingen

Increased drunk boating enforcement over 4th of July weekend

The increased enforcement is part of the Operation Dry Water initiative.


Four kayakers stranded, rescued in Chisholm park

The kayakers became stranded at Redhead Mountain Bike Park Thursday afternoon.


Duo charged after 10-pound meth package sent to wrong address

More than 10 pounds of meth are off the street thanks to a delivery error.


Minneapolis Parks to clean up homeless camp near Lake of the Isles

The Parks and Recreation Board says staff are connecting with those living at the camp.

Duluth and Case Recreation Center

St. Paul to open two extra temporary shelters for homeless people

Mayor Melvin Carter announced the new shelters will be opened in the event of excess demand.

Action promised to tackle growing homeless camp in Minneapolis

The encampment has sprung up near Hiawatha Avenue in recent months.

St. Paul homeless camp shut down, but what happens now?

The city shut it down on Thursday, but challenges are just beginning for many

Minneapolis agrees on a new site for homeless encampment

The land is owned by the city and the Red Lake Nation.

Screen Shot 2020-06-19 at 10.58.12 AM

Board says homeless can stay in Minneapolis parks

Nearly 200 tents have been set up in Powderhorn Park.

Homelessness reaches record high in Minnesota

Homeless numbers rose by 10 percent in the space of 3 years.