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Lawsuit claims Bloomington officials refuse to release all data on MOA protest

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A public records researcher has filed a lawsuit against the City of Bloomington after he says the city failed to release data involving the Black Lives Matter protest at Mall of America last December.

The lawsuit, filed Friday on behalf of Tony Webster, alleges city and police officials in Bloomington violated the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act by intentionally refusing to allow him access to information regarding the protest, and by "withholding, concealing and likely destroying data without any legal basis to do so," a news release says.

“After repeated attempts to work with the city to obtain access to the public data I requested, the City of Bloomington has stonewalled me and attempted to intimidate and discourage me from exercising my rights,” Webster said in the release.

Webster submitted the public records request on Dec. 23, 2014, seeking emails, voicemails, video recordings and other documents in an effort to increase the public's understanding of the City of Bloomington's actions and response to the Dec. 20, 2014, protest, the release notes.

Webster's lawsuit says the city provided access to "only a fraction" of the information he requested and omitted metadata which he says is essential for establishing a timeline of events.

Black Lives Matter activists have claimed Bloomington police officers infiltrated the organization by sending undercover officers to planning meetings, and creating a fake Facebook account to monitor organizers' activities prior to the protest.

The protest at the mall resulted in at least 11 people being charged with misdemeanors that included trespassing, unlawful assembly, and disorderly conduct, among other charges associated with organizing the peaceful demonstration. Activists had been warned prior to the protest that they could be subject to police action.

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