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MOA drops restitution demand from Black Lives Matter protesters

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The Mall of America is no longer seeking $40,000 in restitution from the Black Lives Matter protesters who demonstrated at the mall on Dec. 20, one of the busiest days of the holiday shopping season.

Mall officials informed the city of Bloomington Tuesday they're dropping that request, KSTP reports.

Originally, the MOA pursued the restitution to cover the expenses it incurred for extra security and other costs around the demonstration.

The mall denied the protesters a permit for the demonstration, and warned them repeatedly that they faced arrest if they went through with their plans, because the Mall of America is private property.

The mall said in a statement Wednesday that it dropped the restitution claim because it wants the case to "focus on the property rights of a landowner. MOA does not want a potential restitution claim distracting from that point," the Star Tribune reports.

More than 1,500 people attended the protest in the mall's rotunda in the middle of the busy shopping day, bringing out a large police presence and leading several stores to close their doors for a time.

Police arrested 26 people that day. The city of Bloomington brought charges against 11 of them for trespassing and disorderly conduct, and they are all due back in court on May 1.

City won't drop charges

Black Lives Matter organizers released a statement saying they are pleased with the mall's decision, and hope the next step will be the dismissal of criminal charges.

"We are thankful to our community for standing up to MOA and to the city of Bloomington in solidarity with us," they said, according to MPR News.

But Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson told MPR she has no plans to drop the charges, and the city is still pursuing $25,000 in restitution for the extra security it put in place to respond to the protest.

The Black Lives Matter protest was part of a nationwide campaign of demonstrations following grand jury decisions not to indict police officers who killed unarmed black men in New York and Missouri.

Organizers have held other events in the Twin Cities since then to call attention to what they believe is racially motivated mistreatment by police, including a march and rally in St. Paul on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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