On Saturday, protesters gathered inside the Mall of America to draw attention to police violence, just like many groups of people have, in many different cities, to increasingly alarming levels of backlash and resistance. The Mall of America is a public space big enough to hold Yankee Stadium seven times over, but it is also private property, and the peaceful protesters were warned that they would be violating property rights.
They protested anyway, staging a die-in and producing a series of truly Orwellian images:
The warning on that sign was broadcasted on a loudspeaker, and protesters were warned that they had to leave or face arrest. Around 25 people were arrested, "mainly for reasons such as trespassing."
Later that day, Mall of America issued a statement:
"It's clear from their actions that these political activists were more concerned about making a political statement and creating a media event than they were about the safety of others, who came to Mall of America for an afternoon of shopping and family entertainment," it reads.
I would argue that the safety of others was quite high on the list of these people's priorities, but one must always be forced to hear both sides.
Anyway, a local CBS affiliate reports that Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson is building a criminal case against the protest organizers, and will file charges against them soon. Johnson will "try to get restitution for money lost by the mall, the city and police agencies that came from as far away as Hastings and Red Wing." My god, how many more dollars need be lost before people in America get their heads on straight?
The tone of CBS's reporting reveals the insidious property-over-black-lives priority setting that Gawker discussed with this Ferguson Vine ("If only Michael Brown had been a 7-Eleven, you might have been outraged over his demise, too"), except a lot worse, because all we're talking about here is a half-day dip in mall revenue and a few hours of overtime:
The mall went into a partial shutdown for about two hours as thousands of protesters filled the rotunda on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. The group, "Black Lives Matter" chose the mall for its high visibility, but was warned repeatedly that it was private property.
Mall officials are reportedly gathering estimates of how much money the stores lost on Saturday.
Combined with the amount of overtime put in by police, Johnson said the numbers will be "staggering," and she wants the protest organizers to pay.
Sandra Johnson has stated that this situation was "potentially very dangerous." One might draw the conclusion that the police being brought in with guns blazing is the factor that brought actual danger in the equation.
An organizer quoted by CBS also points out that it was the police's choice to partially shut down the mall in order to rout out the protesters. She brings up a case last December, when thousands of people gathered in the mall to sing a song honoring a cancer victim. The mall allowed it, there were no injuries, no damage done.
Image via PressTV/Twitter