MOA protest supporters ask Bloomington to forego criminal charges


Almost everyone at Monday night's Bloomington City Council meeting was there for one thing: to tell officials they should drop any plans to charge those involved with last month's Black Lives Matter protest at the Mall of America.

About 100 people, many of them also among those who protested at the megamall WCCO reports, filed into the room for a chance to speak publicly at the lone microphone in the center of the room.

What brought most of them was the threat of legal action from Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson, who earlier said she was building criminal cases against the organizers of the mall demonstration.

The pre-Christmas protest featured about 3,000 demonstrators, took over the mall's rotunda, and forced the temporary closure of some stores.

Johnson has said she wants the organizers to pay for the lost mall revenue as well as the cost of the extra policing needed that day.

At the city council meeting – which began with a Martin Luther King Jr. Day proclamation – almost everyone spoke up in support of the protestors, and urged officials to reconsider. Here's a small sampling:

Johnson, near the beginning of the public comment period, said her role does not include "the luxury of selectively prosecuting" cases.

"When there is probable cause to charge people with a crime, and that file comes up to our office, we issue the charges," she said. "We have done that for demonstrations at the Mall of America historically, since it opened."

The Star Tribune says one person spoke in support of Johnson and the potential charges

Johnson noted a 1996 case she prosecuted, in which a demonstration at the mall brought similar charges. Like the Black Lives Matter protestors, she said, those demonstrators were "thoughtful young people" and hoped to improve society and effect change.

But their legal argument that the Mall of America was a public forum was struck down by the Supreme Court in a ruling three years later.

The public comment period Monday lasted for about an hour. You can watch archived video below, or by clicking here:

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Police ended up arresting about two dozen people during the Dec. 20 Mall of America protest, according to KSTP.

In a statement afterward, the Mall said the organizers were "well aware" of its policy banning protest, as well as "the potential consequences for willfully violating that policy."

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