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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, December 7, 2023 | Back issues
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Minnesota Judge Allows Shopping Mall Protest

MINNEAPOLIS (CN) - The Mall of America failed Wednesday to block Black Lives Matter activists from protesting on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

In a lawsuit filed the previous Friday, the mall had hoped to avoid a scenario similar to last year, when Black Lives Matter held a 1,500-person demonstration at the mall on Christmas Eve.

That event caused a partial shutdown of the mall, causing it, its tenants and their workers "irreparable harm" in the form of lost sales and goodwill, according to the complaint in Hennepin County District Court.

Though the mall wrote to Black Lives Matter organizers beforehand about its opposition to the protest, advising them of the potential for arrests, it says the demonstration went ahead.

Demonstrators were escorted out for trespassing, and "a number" were arrested on criminal trespassing charges, some of which are still pending, according to the complaint.

This past July, the movement held another unauthorized demonstration that at least 40 people attended, according to the complaint.

The mall notes that a ruling last month in one of the criminal cases stemming from the Dec. 24, 2014, found that the protesters lack a right to demonstrate at the mall.

"No citizen and no group possesses a constitutional right under either the United state or Minnesota Constitution to conduct political demonstrations at the MOA over the express objection of MOA ownership and management," that order states, as quoted in the complaint.

Just over an hour before the scheduled 1:30 p.m. start of today's protest, Judge Karen Janisch refused to bar the entire group from demonstrating at the mall.

The mall "provided no evidence that Black Lives Matter is a legally cognizable entity capable of being sued as a party in litigation," according to the 29-page ruling.

Janisch did, however, agree to bar three leaders of Black Lives Matters - Michael McDowell, Miski Noor and Kandace Montgomery - from demonstrating this afternoon.

The group need not take down social media posts promoting the protest, according to the ruling, nor must it tell followers the event was canceled.

Janisch cautioned that, despite her bar against the three specific activists, the decision "should not be interpreted as authorizing or permitting others to engage in political demonstration at the Mall of America without the express permission of the Mall of America."

A Facebook page for today's event, "#BlackXmas2: #Justice4Jamar," aims to achieve justice for Jamar Clark, whom Minneapolis police shot and killed on Nov. 15.

At the time of this writing, the event has over 7,000 invitees with more than 700 "going," according to the event page. Reports this evening indicate that the protest moved from the mall to the airport, and that there have been arrests.

"Although they destroyed our occupation, they will not destroy our spirits," the event description states. "If we don't get justice for Jamar Clark and Black Minnesotans, we will return to the Mall of America.... Jamar's family deserves justice this Christmas, and until they get it, there will be no peace."

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