Minneapolis, MN - Attorneys with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis obtained a copy of a warrant Feb. 2 from the Bloomington Police Department that grants police permission to seize private information from the Facebook account of well-known community activist Nick Espinosa.
In response, Nick Espinosa issued this statement:
“I’m deeply disturbed to share that Bloomington Police have obtained a warrant to seize private information from my Facebook account as part of the ongoing political persecution and surveillance of alleged Black Lives Matter organizers who supported a peaceful gathering at the Mall of America on Dec. 20.
“The Bloomington Police Department hopes to find evidence of a conspiracy to aid and abet trespassing, among other ridiculous charges. But the only conspiracy we see here is the collusion of public officials and private corporations to abuse the people they were elected to serve.
“This blatant violation of my privacy and civil rights is part of an ill-conceived crusade by the City of Bloomington to intimidate and silence young activists of color at the behest of the largest shopping mall in the U.S., with our own public dollars.
“As was true of the civil rights activists who paved our way, these gross miscarriages of justice will only strengthen our resolve to dismantle the systems of oppression tearing apart our communities and will inspire thousands more to action. We have nothing to lose but our chains.
“End this political witch hunt. Drop the charges now.”
The city of Bloomington filed charges last month against 10 people they accuse of organizing a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration at the Mall of America in December 2014. City Attorney Sandra Johnson has said she will pursue restitution for “lost revenue” and $33,000 of police overtime to make an example of “ringleaders” to deter future demonstrations.
Defendants were charged with up to eight misdemeanors with a maximum penalty of two years in prison and an $8000 fine.
Espinosa, along with two defendants - Michael McDowell and Mica Grimm - were visited at their homes twice by Bloomington Police in the lead-up to the event and were threatened with arrest if the gathering was not canceled.
Bloomington Police also sent undercover officers to infiltrate a training held in preparation for a peaceful event at the Mall of America to conduct surveillance and identify “leaders.”