Although nobody was hurt or arrested during the “peaceful” protest at the Mall of America this weekend, criminal charges may be filed against the organizers. There was no property damage either, but store owners are saying the protest cost them big where it hurts – their wallets.
Thousands of protestors in the group “Black Lives Matter” filled the Mall of America rotunda on Saturday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year. The group, which hopes to raise awareness and ignite change in the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, certainly caused a stir. According to police reports, the waves of protestors made it nearly impossible for shoppers to traverse the mall. The mall eventually went into a partial shutdown for about two hours during the protest.
Illegal to Protest?
You may be thinking, “how can peaceful protestors get in trouble when nobody was arrested, hurt, and no property was damaged?” Well, the Mall of America is technically private property, and their presence caused about 80 businesses to go into lockdown on Saturday.
Nate Bush, who works in one of the stores that had to be shut down, described the chaotic scene.
“You had people yelling and screaming inside the mall that wanted out and you had people yelling and screaming outside the mall that wanted in,” he said. “I would say the mall was less than half as busy as it should have been considering what day it was.”
Bloomington city attorney Sandra Johnson said the amount of money the demonstration cost storeowners is “staggering.” Johnson and other officials are currently looking on Facebook and social media sites to determine who helped organize the protest.
“This was a powder keg just waiting for a match,” said Johnson. “The main perpetrators are those who continued on their Facebook site to invite people illegally to the Mall of America.”
Another concern was the organized march around the mall. Johnson said they are trying to identify who led the large lap.
“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.”
Lena K. Gardner, a member of the “Black Lives Matter” group, said several different leaders took part in organizing the protest, and the mall’s loss in revenue is not their fault.
“We came to sing carols and raise awareness,” she said, “and the Bloomington police are the ones who shut down the mall, not us.”
Related source: WCCO