Employees of the Lush Cosmetics store at Mall of America are getting support from their company after they stood in solidarity with the "Black Lives Matter" protesters on Saturday.
Some 3,000 people converged in the rotunda of the mall Saturday afternoon to demonstrate against police brutality in the wake of police killings of two black suspects in other parts of the country.
About a dozen employees at Lush, which is near the rotunda, decided to show their solidarity with the protesters by stepping outside their store and raising their hands.
Their actions sparked a lot of conversation on social media. Comments on the store's Facebook page and Twitter expressed sentiments from consumers on both ends of the spectrum – some were supportive of the employees' actions, while others said they were upset and angry about it.
But the company itself, which is based in London, said it fully supports the employees' actions. In response to a critical comment on Lush's Facebook page, a company representative posted the following:
"While the employees were not acting officially for the company, we are a campaigning company, and we support the right to free speech and peaceful protest. Standing in solidarity of fairness, justice and equality for all, regardless of gender, race, age, sexuality, and religion - this is something that as a business we do wholeheartedly believe in."
The demonstration lasted about 45 minutes, and protesters then moved outside the mall. A small group of protesters stayed inside and 25 of them were later arrested for refusing to leave.
Charges are expected to be filed soon against the organizers of the protest, according to WCCO. They had been warned repeatedly that they faced arrest if they went through with the demonstration because the MOA is private property.
Parts of the mall were on lockdown, and about 80 stores were closed for about two hours on what is normally one of the busiest shopping days of the year. WCCO says mall officials are in the process of determining how much money their tenants lost Saturday because of the protest.
Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson told the station she's building criminal cases against the organizers. She added she will try to force the organizers to pay for the lost mall revenue as well as the cost of the additional law enforcement presence.
Lena K. Gardner of the group “Black Lives Matter” said the protesters did not cause businesses to lose money, according to WCCO.
“We came to sing carols and raise awareness, and the Bloomington police are the ones who shut down the mall, not us," she said.
No injuries or property damage were reported from Saturday’s protest.