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10 charged over Black Lives Matter Mall of America protest, 25 more could follow

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Authorities in Bloomington have charged 10 people who took part in the Black Lives Matter protest at the Mall of America last month, and could take action against 25 more.

Police say around 1,500 people were involved in the protest against police brutality at the megamall's East Rotunda on Dec. 20, 2014, the last Saturday before Christmas that proved to be the busiest shopping day of the year.

The City of Bloomington Attorney's Office confirmed Wednesday that 25 protesters arrested at the demonstration for various offenses have charges pending against them and will be "processed through the legal system."

It has also formally charged another 10 people for crimes related to the demonstration, including unlawful assembly, public nuisance, trespass and disorderly conduct, ranging in age from 18 to 49.

Earlier this month, Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson told a city council meeting that she intended to file additional charges against "the ringleaders" in addition to the 25 arrested on the day, noting protesters were informed prior to the event that they didn't have permission to demonstrate at the mall.

A police spokesman told BringMeTheNews that the 10 people charged may be a mixture of organizers and people participating in the protest.

The protest group hasn't responded to the announcement yet, but did retweet the following posting on Twitter this morning.

St. Paul NAACP president Jeff Martin would not comment on the charges, but said the NAACP will be sending the Bloomington attorney a letter outlining other options to charging them, the Star Tribune's Chao Xiong reports.

Plain-clothed officers attended protest meetings

There have been charges levied against 10 people involved in the organization and participation of the demonstration, among them two of the protest's "self-identified organizers" Michael McDowell, 20, and Mica Grimm, 24, according to criminal complaints released by police.

Another of the alleged organizers named on the criminal complaint is not among those charged.

Others charged were: Kandace Montgomery, 24, Catherine Salonek, 26, Todd Dahlstrom, 49, Adja Gildersleve, 25, Shannon Bade, 45, Jie Wronski-Riley, 18, Amity Foster, 38, and Minneapolis-based civil rights lawyer Nekima Levy-Pounds, 38.

Each person was charged with a mixture of offenses mentioned above, but other interesting aspects from the criminal complaint sheets include:

  • Plain-clothed Bloomington police officers attended a public meeting organized by the protest group on December 17 and gathered information about their plans, even giving over a phone number to receive text messages from organizers.
  • At the same meeting, protest organizers discussed how to stall police trying to move protesters on at the mall by telling them "a police liaison is on its way."
  • Plain-clothed officers also attended a pre-protest meeting at 12.15 p.m. on the day of the demonstration.
  • Protesters yelled so loud it could be heard throughout the Nickelodeon Universe theme park, families and children were "visibly frightened" during the protest.
  • The cost to the City and the Mall of America for providing police and security staff for the protest totaled $33,000.
  • Police officers were spit on from upper levels of the rotunda while they tried to disperse protestors.

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