Black Lives Matter Protest At Mall Of America

Two days before Christmas, Black Lives Matter protesters filled the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota to demonstrate, with an express intent to seek justice and acquire videos of last month's police shooting of Jamar Clark. Many stores, including a Starbucks and a Barnes & Noble, closed in anticipation of the protest, and both the local Bloomington Police and the Minnesota State Patrol confirmed that officers took to the scene to ensure the safety of protesters and shoppers alike. Governor Mark Dayton expressed sympathy with the protesters' cause, but explained that the mall is private property. The mall was placed on shutdown, and the protesters then moved outside on orders of state troopers and the local police.

The protesters initially gathered around 2:30 p.m., only to learn that their demonstration was not authorized or allowed. Responding officers moved forward in a synchronized line to drive them from the location. Eventually, the Black Lives Matter group moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Significant traffic backups occurred, according to the airport's Twitter account. Terminal 2 checkpoints closed to prevent protesters from accessing secure areas, but operations have since returned to normal.

During the initial protest, four were arrested for trespassing, and one of the four was also arrested for disorderly conduct. A fifth person was arrested for an unrelated warrant. No injuries or destruction to property were reported, although about 80 stores closed their doors for roughly an hour. Some stores remained open during the brief event. The mall had earlier applied for a court order to stop the protest; although organizers were banned, the court did not have the power to stop others from attending. One of the organizers, Kandace Montgomery, told the Associated Press:

We are a leader-full organization. Just barring three of us does not mean that you've stopped our work.

This is not the first occasion on which the Mall of America has prohibited demonstrations. In fact, a similar protest occurred at the Mall last year, attracting nearly 2,000 people. Protests are, by definition, intended to disrupt everyday life as a tactic for raising awareness of neglected causes, or a populist means of making ordinary people's points known to policymakers and public officials. In this particular case, the Mall of America is an optimal location for widespread awareness, even if it is private property. It is the largest active shopping center in the United States, and protesters there can expose their causes to thousands of citizens, in addition to the media and officials.