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Black Lives Matter protesters in court, supporters urge Mall of America boycott

By staff |
March 11, 2015
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Minneapolis, MN - Hundreds of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis supporters gathered at the Hennepin County Courts, March 10, to stand in solidarity with the 11 defendants who are being targeted for political prosecution by the City of Bloomington and the Mall of America (MOA).

Eleven defendants, accused of organizing a Black Lives Matter demonstration in the Mall of America, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor criminal charges. City Attorney Sandra Johnson is seeking an unprecedented $40,000 in restitution for “police overtime” and “lost revenue." At a press conference after the March 10 court appearance, a boycott of the Mall of America was announced.

“This is a clear attempt to silence our voices and the voices of many others in this movement demanding that Black people be treated like human beings. My first time in the back of a police car was when I was twelve; not because I was breaking the law or doing something wrong, but because I was being racially profiled. This system is set up to target and profile Black people," said defendant Michael McDowell after the hearing.

Confidential emails between Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson and MOA representatives were made public yesterday and showed MOA representatives pushing for more serious charges. City Attorney Sandra Johnson offered Mall of America representatives advice on how to coordinate their press strategy with her office so the Mall could continue to put on a “safe and positive face."

“In the midst of these outrageous charges, let’s not forget about the root issues that led us to this point. In Minnesota, we have some of the worst racial disparities in the country because there are systems of inequity embedded within our state’s policies, institutions and social fabric that do not value Black lives. The focus should not be on the protection of private property and profits; it’s time to prioritize humanity,” said defendant Adja Gildersleve.

City Attorney Sandra Johnson also encouraged MOA officials to continue surveillance of activists through social media, stating in an email, “Please document all the social media and video feeds on social media concerning the event. The groups are very likely to take these sites down when they hear that we intend to prosecute them. That’s likely to air tonight. My office cannot do that - it would require us to be witnesses in our own prosecutions.”

One of the defendants, Mica Grimm, responded, “This political prosecution of alleged organizers is a clear waste of taxpayer dollars and time, especially in light of recently exposed collusion between the Bloomington city attorney and MOA executives. Sandra Johnson has shown that the interests of Bloomington residents are secondary to the interests of the Canadian billionaire owners and management of MOA."

Black people in Minnesota contribute over $486 million to Minnesota’s economic tax-base and possess a $3.1 billion buying power. Yet, despite significant economic, labor and cultural contributions, Black Minnesotans are consistently on the receiving end of corporate-sponsored and state-sanctioned violence. “For too long in this country Black lives have not mattered, especially not over profit. The 3000 protesters who went to Mall of America on Dec. 20 were there to deliver one message; that contrary to our nation’s history, Black lives do matter," said defendant Kandace Montgomery.

A pretrial court appearance has been scheduled for May 1st.

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