Black Lives Matter Minneapolis (BLMM) is planning another confrontational demonstration at Minnesota’s popular Mall of America on December 23rd, the last full shopping day before Christmas. BLMM also protested the mall last year, although this year the protests have more of a focus: the police shooting of Jamar Clark.
The protest tactic of hurting business was also utilized by Black Lives Matter protesters in Chicago on Black Friday as they shut down Michigan Avenue.
Jamar Clark, 24, was shot on November 15th, after people responded to a call that he’d been beating his girlfriend and then beating the paramedics trying to help her. Clark, who had pled guilty to making terroristic threats against another girlfriend earlier in 2015, was on probation at the time of the shooting. Police say he grabbed the gun of one of the arresting officers. The shooting is currently being investigated by both state and federal authorities.
None of that mattered to Black Lives Matter Minneapolis protesters, who say Clark was handcuffed when shot. The general antagonism of BLMM towards police made national headlines earlier in the year when BLMM protesters chanted “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon!” the day after the execution-style murder of a Texas sheriff’s deputy.
After Jamar Clark’s shooting, BLMM protesters, spurred on by the local ACLU chapter, quickly set up an encampment in front of a police building. That Occupy-style tent city remained blocking the streets for two weeks until police finally removed it.
Black Lives Matter Minneapolis has issued the following demands about their planned Mall of America protest on their Facebook page:
- Prosecution of the cops who murdered Jamar Clark
- NO GRAND JURY
- Immediate release of the tapes
- Federal domestic terrorism charges against criminals who shot 5 protesters
- Community control and oversight of police
Although they are calling for terrorism charges over a shooting that occurred just before Thanksgiving, Breitbart News reported that the shooting of the protesters may have been self-defense, if the video testimony of other protesters is accurate. Those protesters said that other protesters attacked the shooters and chased them before the shooting occurred, saying “Somebody out the crowd punched one of them and they hit the gate over here.”
Mall of America officials have sent mixed signals to the protesters about whether they plan to get serious to stop the protests. As the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal reported, “We are prepared to use all remedies available to us,” (spokeswoman) Gaertner said of protesters who defy the mall. She later clarified that the mall will seek court orders blocking the protest and other preventative actions, rather than punitive measures.
The Mall’s Canadian owners were “not pleased” with negative publicity from ending last year’s protest.
The spokeswoman for the Mall of America also issued a statement that implied the protester’s cause was “righteous” by saying, “Mall of America will continue to prohibit protests on its property, no matter how righteous the cause might be. The mall does this to protect the safety and experience of its guests.”
Black Lives Matter Minneapolis got the mixed message loud and clear and posted a defiant response on their Facebook page:
Although they destroyed our occupation, they will not destroy our spirits. If we don’t get justice for Jamar Clark and Black Minnesotans, we will return to the Mall of America.
We have endured an armed white supremacist terrorist attack where 5 of us were shot; police violence in the form of mace, batons, and less lethal projectiles; over 50 arrests on highway 94 and at the 4th Precinct; and freezing temperatures to demand justice for Jamar Clark. If it’s not clear yet: we won’t stop until we get it.
The activists also said, ”Jamar’s family deserves justice this Christmas, and until they get it, there will be no peace.”
The protests last year at the Mall of America drew an estimated 3,000 people. Over 80 stores at the Mall were forced to close temporarily.
Last month, a judge dismissed unlawful assembly and other charges against eleven organizers of the protest. Other charges are still making their way through the courts over seventeen Black Lives Matter protesters who refused to leave after mall security and protest organizers tried to end the shutdown.