In the next few days, the Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson plans to file criminal charges against the organizers of last Saturday’s protest at Mall of America, according to CBS Minneapolis.
On the busiest shopping day of the year last weekend, Mall Of America went into a partial shutdown for about two hours. About 3000 protesters filled the rotunda. The group, “Black Lives Matter” chose the mall for its high visibility, but was warned repeatedly that it was private property. Mall officials are reportedly gathering estimates of how much money the stores lost on Saturday.
Combined with the amount of overtime put in by police, Johnson said the cost of the disruption will be “staggering.” She wants the protest organizers to pay.
Protesters say it was the police who shut down the mall when the chanting began last Saturday. Officers locked down about 80 stores and several mall entrances. In the area of the rotunda, where the protests were concentrated, business came to a halt for about two hours.
Johnson has a history of attempting to criminalize political speech. In September 2012, she clashed with conservative activists attempting to distribute lawn signs to supporters at Bloomington city hall after hours. Johnson instructed Bloomington police to have ProtectMyVote.com personnel removed from the city hall parking lot, arguing that because the building is used for “polling” during election years, that political speech is illegal was illegal at the site.
As far as the Mall of America assembly, she seems to believe that the crowded gathering was ripe for violence.
“This was a powder keg just waiting for a match,” Johnson said about the peaceful protests.
Apparently, no match was thrown, however.
Only 12 arrests occurred and the gathering of thousands of supporters chanted and sang peacefully. No injuries or property damage was reported. Lena K. Gardner from “Black Lives Matter” said several groups, including several faith leaders, took part in organizing Saturday’s protest. “We came to sing carols and raise awareness,” she said, “and the Bloomington police are the ones who shut down the mall, not us.”
Garner says the protest was in the same spirit as an event last year, when thousands gathered in the rotunda to sing a song written by a young man who died of cancer. She thinks the mall have welcome the group and its message.
The City Attorney says she is now building criminal cases against the protest organizers. She’s holding a grudge against the even organizers. She wants restitution for money lost by the mall, the city and police agencies.
She believes the protest was criminal.
“The main perpetrators are those who continued on their Facebook site to invite people illegally to the Mall of America,” she said.
Police are looking at the group’s social media posts, as well as video from inside the mall.
“Who led that march through the Mall of America?” said Johnson. “If we can identify those people who were inciting others to continue with this illegal activity, we can consider charges against them too.”
Will she include people who tweeted images and retweeted information on the protest?
If so, that’s going to be an awfully long list of culprits.