But organizers said they have ‘no plans to halt the demonstration’ planned for Wednesday, December 23. Free speech and racial justice advocates are expressing outrage online under the hashtag #MOASueMeToo on Twitter.
Last year’s Mall of America protest saw an estimated 3,000 people flood the mall’s rotunda demanding an “end to police brutality and racial inequities affecting Black and brown Minnesotans.” (Photo courtesy of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis)
Black Lives Matter organizers say they have no plans to back down from a racial justice protest planned for Wednesday, despite the Mall of America using “outrageous and totalitarian” tactics in an attempt to stop the demonstration.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) Minneapolis said Monday morning that Mall of America (MOA) has filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order against four individual activists and four “John Does” to prevent the upcoming protest.
The suit requires that organizers “immediately” post messages on social media and send out a mass text message announcing that the December 23rd event—intended to focus on the November police killing of 24-year-old Minneapolis black man Jamar Clark—is cancelled.
“Defendants and their agents are ordered to delete and take down any online materials, including Facebook, messages on Twitter, and online messages in any other form, that solicit or encourage others to engage in any demonstration on MOA Premises on December 23, 2015 or that provide information about the planned demonstration on MOA Premises on December 23, 2015,” says the document.
According to BLM, the eight defendants received letters at their homes on Friday, which threatened arrest if the demonstration continues as planned. A hearing for the mall’s request is scheduled for 2 pm Monday in Hennepin County District Court.
“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,” BLM Minneapolis said in a statement on Monday. “The Mall of America has now taken the further outrageous and totalitarian step of attempting to control the speech of individuals.”
Last year’s MOA protest, held December 20, 2014, saw an estimated 3,000 people flood the mall’s rotunda demanding an “end to police brutality and racial inequities affecting Black and brown Minnesotans.”
Protesters were not only aggressively confronted by law enforcement and heavily prosecuted by the Bloomington attorney’s office, but they were also, it was later revealed, preemptively spied on by local police and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The latest controversy comes just weeks after police bulldozed the 18-day occupation of the 4th Precinct where community members were demanding justice for Jamar Clark, who was unarmed when he was shot on November 15.
During one of many protests in the wake of Clark’s killing, five demonstrators were shot by gunmen who witnesses said were voicing white supremacist sentiments.
In their statement Monday, BLM organizers said they have “no plans to halt the demonstration unless authorities release the tapes related to Jamar Clark’s case, prosecute police without a grand jury by special prosecutor, and bring federal terrorism charges against white supremacists who shot five protesters during the occupation.”
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ST. PAUL, Minnesota – Black Lives Matter protesters vowed on Monday to demonstrate at the Mall of America on the busy shopping day before Christmas Eve, regardless of whether a judge grants the mall’s request to bar them from doing so.
Miski Noor, one of the organizers, said after a hearing Monday about the mall’s request for a temporary restraining order that the protest would take place Wednesday, no matter what.
“We’re not going to be canceling the protest,” she told reporters after the hearing in Hennepin County District Court. “Us not showing up and us not speaking would be the mall winning.”The protesters want to demonstrate at the country’s biggest mall to draw attention to the Nov. 15 police killing of a black Minneapolis man, Jamar Clark, and to ramp up the pressure on investigators to release video of the shooting. Authorities say they won’t release it while state and federal investigations are ongoing.
The mall wants to avoid the type of disruption caused by a Christmas-time demonstration last year, when thousands of protesters angry over the absence of charges involving police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City forced the temporary closure of mall stores. Dozens of people were arrested.
Judge Karen Janisch indicated that she could rule on the restraining order request within hours.
Police say Clark, 24, died during a struggle with officers. Others, though, say Clark was handcuffed at the time. Authorities have declined to release video of the shooting while state and federal investigations are underway.
Protest organizers are seeking a special prosecutor to be appointed in Clark’s death rather than have a grand jury decide whether to charge the officers involved in his death. In addition they want federal terrorism charges to be brought against four men who shot at protesters outside a Minneapolis police precinct last month, injuring five.
Beyond barring the protest, the mall’s request would also require organizers to remove posts with plans of the demonstration from social media and to send out notifications that the event has been canceled. The mall, which is privately owned and doesn’t allow protests, contends that another demonstration would mean more lost sales for its vendors.
After attempting to directly dissuade Black Lives Matter from following through last week, mall attorney Susan Gaertner said a restraining order would make it clear that the mall – privately owned property – prohibits demonstrations. She repeatedly stressed that the mall’s opposition to Black Lives Matter was not about their message, but about the group’s chosen venue and the potential for disrupting last-minute holiday shopping.“The Mall of America is no more an appropriate place for a demonstration than it would be around my dinner table,” she said.
Jordan Kushner, an attorney for several Black Lives Matter organizers named in the mall’s lawsuit, called the mall’s demands unconstitutional.
“They could tell people to stay away from their property, but they cannot tell people what to say or what not to say,” Kushner said. “It’s trying to control their speech.”