Protests are planned at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota – the largest shopping mall in America – but lawyers representing the mall are arguing against the planned demonstrations from the Minneapolis chapter of the Black Lives Matter organization and are working to prevent any pre-Christmas disruptions.
The organized dissent is in protest to the fatal November shooting of Jamar Clark – a 24-year-old African-American male who was in an officer-involved shooting incident. Some witnesses to the shooting claim that Clark, an ex-con who had served jail time for previous felony charges – was in handcuffs and retrained when the officers opened fire. Police deny those claims.
Reports the CS Monitor on Dec. 21: “Despite legal action from the Mall of America, Black Lives Matter organizers said in a statement Monday that the demonstration will proceed as planned unless their demands are met. The demands call for videos of Clark’s shooting to be released and for the appointment of a special prosecutor to decide whether the involved officers shooting should be tried, rather than leaving the decision up to a grand jury.”
The scheduled protest is similar to the 2014 demonstrations held at the Mall of America. In late December of last year, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis showed up and obstructed commerce on the mall’s private property. Over 3,000 activists flooded the mall and prevented shoppers from getting into stores.
With wind of another protest on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, mall officials have filed a temporary restraining order against eight Black Lives Matter leaders in order to halt the planned action.
In response, BLM claims the suit is unconstitutional. In a statement on their Facebook page, the group said:
“The Mall [of] America continues to seek to bar free speech for the community on its premises despite receiving hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies, which it has used to appropriate the traditional public forum in service of its own corporate profit. The Mall of America has now taken the further outrageous and totalitarian step of attempting to control the speech of individuals.”
Essentially, the organization is arguing that the mall has become “public property” because it was constructed after receiving tax breaks and public subsidies. That argument however was already struck down, so it’s unclear what legal recourse BLM has, if any.
Even if the restraining order is granted, BLM activists have vowed to show up anyway at the Mall of America, setting the stage for what could once again turn into an ugly, potentially racially charged clash between police and protestors.