Meet the Mall of America 11

On Dec. 20, 2014, an estimated 3,000 people took to the Mall of America in the name of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, as part of a nationwide wave of protests following grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York to not indict white police officers who shot and killed unarmed black men. Despite warnings from the mall and the city of Bloomington, the peaceful protest went on as planned on the Saturday before Christmas, historically one of the busiest shopping days of the year.  

Twenty-five people were arrested and, on March 10, 11 activists were charged with trespassing and other misdemeanors, to which all pled not guilty. Now the so-called Mall of America 11 (#MOA11) face large fines if convicted, with Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson seeking $40,000 in restitution for police overtime and lost revenue to the mall.

In the process, the activists have had their Facebook accounts monitored, supporters have called for a Mall of America boycott and mocked the mall’s post-protest promotional Twitter efforts to ensure that all lives matter at the Mall of America.  

On May 1, the defendants will return to the Hennepin County District Court-Southdale in Edina for a pretrial hearing. The date was chosen by the defendants in solidarity with May Day, or International Workers’ Day, which celebrates left-wing movements and working people all over the world.

To be sure, The MOA11 versus the Mall Of America, as its future Banksy meme will undoubtedly have it, is a battle rife with symbolism – idealism versus capitalism, activism versus shopping, the people versus politicians and police – and at the moment the MOA 11 stand together as a brave if somewhat reluctant figurehead, a group of thought leaders who see themselves as torch bearers of their lunch-counter-sitting and back-of-the-bus–sitting forefathers and mothers before them, taking on America’s history of institutional racism itself.

So who are these defendants, what are their backgrounds, and what do they stand for? MinnPost found out:

Mica Grimm
Photo by Donald Thomas
Mica Grimm

Mica Grimm: I was born and raised in South Minneapolis and graduated from Southwest High School. My grandmother was a community organizer in St. Louis, a really powerful woman, so it’s always been in my blood. Right now I’m campus organizer for MPIRG, a nonprofit run by college students, which is really dope because they know what’s happening and we know it’s our time to organize. I got started with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis the night of the Darren Wilson verdict (Nov. 24), watching on CNN the supposed riots with my little brother, and then I watched alone, crying and feeling hurt, and I was like, “I know I’m not the only one who feels like this, why am I dealing with this on my own?” I went on Twitter and people were talking about it, and people in Minneapolis were going, “Is anybody doing anything? We need to do something,” and I was saying the same thing.

Right now, to a certain extent, it’s kind of intimidating because there’s a lot of hate put on you. This is an issue that’s so pervasive and deep, and it’s really clear that the scars haven’t healed. We all like to pretend we’re in a postracial society, that’s what we keep hearing, but these issues bring up so much tension for society. So the hate that comes with all this is kind of heavy. I’ve gotten hate email and letters and even a fax, but at the same time there’s so much love and support. When we shut down Highway 55, that was the first time that I’ve felt a real community with that amount of people. I’d never felt that type of healing and that type of love. It’s clear that people needed this, and needed to be around other people, and needed to believe that we can make a change.

Michael McDowell
Courtesy of Michael McDowell
Michael McDowell

Michael McDowell: I got involved right after the Darren Wilson verdict came out. Folks were emailing the night before, and I got calls that there would be a big rally and march on Hiawatha and Lake, and people asked me if I wanted to be involved and shut down the highway and I said, “I’m definitely down.” Folks were already organizing. It was really organic, and after we did the Highway 55 shutdown, it was part of a national trend and we started talking to folks in Ferguson, who had a chapter there, and New York, who had a chapter there, and were like, “You shut the highway down. You guys should start a chapter there and start pushing policing policy in your state.” So it just kind of … happened.

Overall our target is not the mall, it’s to keep uplifting the message and pushing our demands around, citywide and statewide, towards the end of police violence against black folks, and I think that’s getting lost. But our target is not the mall, we’re just currently being charged by the mall. Our most urgent goal is to end the killings of black folks by police officers and we want to uplift the role of corporations like the mall in all of this.

I think what a lot of folks keep seeing is these awesome and rapid actions, but they’re not seeing what’s going on behind closed doors. We’re trying to push legislation and policy around policing statewide and citywide, and we’re figuring out how to plug folks into the work that’s being done at the Capitol so that we get some folks who really care about policing and community and talking to their legislators. That’s what’s next.

Nekima Levy Pounds
Courtesy of Nekima Levy Pounds
Nekima Levy Pounds

Nekima Levy Pounds: I moved here in 2003 and began teaching at the University of St. Thomas law school. I’m also a law professor at St. Thomas, and also the director of the Community Justice Project, which is the civil rights legal clinic, and I’m also a civil rights attorney. I got involved because of my connection to a lot of the young people who are part of Black Lives Matter; I’ve been working with them on a variety of different social justice issues, so when they were starting up the group they reached out to me to see if I was willing to be involved.

That was on the heels of me returning from Ferguson during Thanksgiving week, as a legal observer through the National Lawyers Guild. That was a life-changing experience. In Ferguson, I saw a visual representation of the militarization of the local police forces. The first night I was there, we were tear-gassed without warning by a police officer and that was just a shocking, jarring experience, because there was really no regard for the safety of the people — because when you’re tear-gassed, you can’t breathe, you can’t see, you’re immobilized for 15 minutes and people with fragile immune systems are in real danger.

That use of force on nonviolent peace protesters really set off some alarms in my mind; I’m a scholar who focuses on the impact of the war on drugs on communities of color, and I’ve written about a lot of these issues, so just to be there face-to-face with officers and the National Guard and seeing that all come to a head was an eye-opening experience.

I was really inspired by the young people who came out night after night in Ferguson, demanding equal justice under the law. I saw that they were relentless, and it reminded me of the things that I had studied about the civil rights movement and the activism of ordinary citizens and young people. So I was inspired and energized by that, so when the young people approached me about getting involved with Black Lives Matter in Minneapolis, it was a no-brainer.

One of the things that’s interesting to me is how often people in Minnesota talk about the inconvenience to shoppers at the Mall of America. People are more concerned about convenience than what’s in the interest of justice. A lot of people are indifferent to the plight of people of color, particularly African-Americans and the plight of the poor, and they are comfortable with the status quo. I just find that to be extremely troubling, but it also helps me understand how we could have Jim Crow laws in this country, and how so many people watched this happen and didn’t do anything about it. Too many people are sitting back, comfortable, while lives are being lost and constitutional rights are being violated on a regular basis, and I just find that unconscionable.

Cat Salonek
Courtesy of Cat Salonek
Cat Salonek

Cat Salonek: I grew up in Robbinsdale, but I’m a South Minneapolis resident now and I work for Outfront.org, because I saw how Outfront was not only working for LGBTQ justice, but was constantly for other parts of the movements. For me, racial justice is a life or death situation in our cities and our state and our country. Growing up in Robbinsdale, the police were very aggressive; it’s on the border of North Minneapolis, and police there would do everything they could to arrest poor people and black people and hold them to a different standard than white folks. So to me, when Black Lives Matter started emerging it was sort of an “of course; makes sense.”

I feel really angry, and infuriated, that the reaction to police accountability is an increase in police force and a manipulation of our constitutional rights to free speech. They’re not only charging us with these five misdemeanors – which are unconstitutional; we have the right to protest – but they’re also charging us with about $70,000 in restitution that, not so coincidentally, comes from an increase in police force that we didn’t ask for at this protest.

These charges are absurd. I didn’t trespass and none of the people they targeted with these charges were trespassing. We were, in fact, the people who attempted to coordinate with the police and pull people out of the action when they wanted but they wouldn’t allow us to do what we do best, which is run disciplined, safe and effective direct action. The police created the chaos. It was very unnecessary. The risk of any [chaos] would have been eliminated had the police followed the protocol I laid out for them. We wanted to have marshals at the event. We had 250 people trained weeks before the event, and not only did they infiltrate it, but they wouldn’t allow us to use the people we trained as marshals and instead decided to wrangle 21 different police units and law-enforcement agencies instead of just letting us have our marshals peacefully maneuver the crowd out of the space. I mean, we shut down two highways. We shut down other spaces. Never has there been an issue about directing people until the Mall of America.  

Kandace Montgomery
Photo by Patience Zalanga
Kandace Montgomery

Kandace Montgomery: I’m originally from Maine, and I work for TakeAction Minnesota as an organizer focusing mainly on economic issues impacting women of color. [These charges] are annoying, and oppressive. It’s not a scary feeling, because I feel oppressed every day of my life; it’s just another one of these tactics that they’re using to oppress my voice and thousands of other people’s voices. What they want is for us to think twice about going to a mall and demanding that black lives matter. That’s frustrating, because all of our work is about people speaking their minds and speaking their truth and holding this country accountable. It’s not scary. It pisses me off, more than anything.

It’s obvious that our politicians and people who work in our government are inside the pockets and at the hands of major corporations, and protecting their interests, not ours. So if anything, what we showed from the protests is that our cities and governments are still willing to protect the interests of corporations even if it means persecuting young people of color for gathering at a peaceful protest. That’s absurd, but it gives us more energy in helping us to create more strategy to really think about: How do we create structural change that says black lives matter in this state and in this country?

Adja Gildersleve
Photo by Elliot Malcolm
Adja Gildersleve

Adja Gildersleve: What’s the goal of putting us out there as the MOA 11? It’s kind of like a star-status type thing, that’s how I see it, and I don’t want us out there like that. I want there to be talk of deeper issues, and I don’t want to just like highlight me being a defendant because it’s not about me, it’s about a larger movement, and so the media that’s going out right now is really important, to be telling the story of everyone who is affected, because there’s nothing really special about the eleven.

Todd Dahlstrohm: I’m married to an attorney and have two children, 21 and 25, and I’ve been a long-time labor organizer here in the Twin Cities. I currently work for the Minnesota AFL-CIO as the director of organizing and growth. I think that any time you directly take on power, power strikes back and with the Mall of America, we’re taking on corporate power and they’re striking back at us. It’s always worth putting yourself out there when you’re on the side of justice.

Todd Dahlstrohm
Courtesy of Todd Dahlstrohm
Todd Dahlstrohm

Anytime when folks who have decided to change this country they’ve had to make other people feel uncomfortable, and that’s what has led to change in this country. Sometimes disruption and sometimes inconvenience is part of that, just like folks who sat at lunch counters during the civil rights movement – people were uncomfortable with that. [Our] staging a peaceful protest in the mall made folks feel uncomfortable; it wasn’t convenient, but it was really about institutional racism in this country and changing that. I feel confident that we’re going to stand strong and stay together and the movement will make change in this country.

Amity Foster: I’m from a small town in the southern Black Hills in South Dakota, and graduated from Concordia University in 1998 and worked in the library there for 10 years. I’ve worked as executive assistant and data/database manager at ISAIAH for four years, and my life has changed drastically since I’ve been here. When I started, I told my boss that I wanted the job because “I want to be part of something bigger.” I had no idea what community organizing was, and now it is so much a part of my life that I’m not sure who I would be without it.

Amity Foster
Courtesy of Amity Foster
Amity Foster

I hope that people are angry about the protest because it made them look at a hard truth — that black lives don’t matter in so many systemic ways and that’s what is wrong. The major inconvenience to shoppers was caused by the police, that’s where their anger should be. Black lives are disrupted unjustly every day by racial biases in policing and by our criminal justice system, by the achievement gap, by systemic racism. That’s what Black Lives Matter leaders are saying, and that’s what you need to hear.

Jie Wronski-Riley: I’m originally from Washington, D.C., and I’m a senior in high school at Avalon School, which is a charter school in St. Paul. I’ve been involved in other social justice community organizing. I worked at Minnesotans United For All Families and TakeAction Minnesota. I went to the Mall of America on December 20 to honor the lives of black men and women and children who have been murdered by police in America. I went with the intention and spirit of love and mourning, and I think the way the mall and the city of Bloomington reacted … I just don’t think they understand why we were there.

Jie Wronski-Riley
Courtesy of Jie Wronski-Riley
Jie Wronski-Riley

Because if they did, they wouldn’t be doing this to us. We were there in the spirit of love and grief and standing up for your community and people you’re around. They’re very scared of what Black Lives Matter is saying and they’re valuing profits over people.

I’m 18, and when I think about how having criminal charges on [my record] will affect college and my future, I feel proud and I feel anger. I feel very proud, because I don’t think there’s anything else I’d want to be arrested for, than standing up for what I care about and my values. This is living my values. So I’m proud of that, but I’m also really angry about the fact that the Mall of America is not valuing black lives. Their actions seem to be out of fear and punishment.

Shannon Bade
Courtesy of Shannon Bade
Shannon Bade

Shannon Bade: I’m been a community organizer for over 16 years. I’ve organized in five states for over seven different organizations. I moved to Minneapolis a year and a half ago; I’m from the Chicago area. Most recently I was in Kansas, organizing for immigration rights. I’m currently an organizer with Minnesotans for a Fair Economy.

I’m organizing bank workers. My involvement with Black Lives Matter comes out of a deep set of values; I don’t want to live in a world where African-Americans are shot every 28 hours by law enforcement or vigilantes, and I think we’re at a tipping point in this country and it’s time to push it out into the public arena and start having these very hard conversations.

I think I’m a little numb right now. It hasn’t really started yet, and the trial hasn’t begun. In some way, it is scary, because we’re going up against corporate America and very few people have won those fights. On the other hand, I’m super hopeful. I feel excited to be part of such a really cool team that was really “organically” formed and now we’re being deemed the organizers, even though 3,000 other people made it out there. We have a team of lawyers, all of whom are working pro bono and are really impressive, and they’re pretty confident but I haven’t seen them in action yet.

Pamela Twiss
Courtesy of Pamela Twiss
Pamela Twiss

Pamela Twiss: I’ve been doing organizing for 29 years. I was the organizing director at TakeAction Minnesota, and now I run a training program for National People’s Action. I go around the country now and I just don’t know if people appreciate what an [organizing] infrastructure we have here in Minnesota; it just does not exist everywhere.

I’ve been an advocate for us not calling it a protest; I never went to it as a protest. It was a rally in support of black lives. I think calling it a protest confuses people, as if we’re protesting a mall. We’re not protesting a mall. No one was there with anything against the Mall of America; the Mall of America was chosen as a site because it’s a very public place that will get attention.

I will tell you that in the 29 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve worked with many communities of color, and systemic racism is obvious to me. I’ve heard hundreds and hundreds of stories that cannot be explained by people’s individual behavior at all — people who have been doing everything to be as responsible in their lives as possible, and they still get screwed, and that’s about systems. I’m kind of amazed how unclear it is in the dominant culture. For one example, the mortgage crisis, [during] which in many corners people took out loans they couldn’t afford, and you dig a little deeper you see that Bank of America and Wells Fargo were selling subprime mortgages in communities of color to lower-income people. A slimy, slimy business.

That’s just one of a thousand examples. I feel like there are points in history where stuff that’s obvious in some communities start becoming obvious in the dominant culture, and I think with all the high-profile killings of unarmed black people lately, we have a moment in time to actually create some policy change that will lead to systemic change. But we can either use that moment, or we can squander that moment, and I think the mortgage foreclosure crisis was a squandered moment. That ship sailed, and it’s too late now, the moment of crisis is gone. I do not want to squander this moment of crisis.

Part of how organizing works is you take a thing that’s been a crisis in some communities, and you make it a crisis in the mainstream. Part of the Mall of America action was about making this an issue, a crisis, for mainstream Minnesota. We want to have a fight that keeps the conversation alive. It was not our intent for Sandra Johnson and Bloomington and these charges to be a battleground, but if that’s the battleground, fine, we’ll use it to keep the conversation focused on the actual problem, which is that there’s systemic racism in Minnesota, and in fact we’re the worst in the nation on a lot of it.  

However, we can get people’s attention about that. That’s what we want to do, and that’s what I want to be part of. We would like the charges dropped, but the main issue is we would like the city of Bloomington to address systemic issues of racism there.

Comments (46)

  1. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 04/01/2015 - 10:53 am.

    Human beings

    Nice article. These sound like decent human beings with strong social consciences. In the previous articles about BLM and the mall these people were presented as faceless entities that the commenters could paint their own portraits on. I wonder if any of the haters and legalistic nitpickers will have any comments here.

  2. Submitted by Crystal Brakke on 04/01/2015 - 11:08 am.

    Well done.

    Thank you for giving these eleven individuals a space to say in their own words who they are, what they believe, and why they feel called to act.

  3. Submitted by Ginny Martin on 04/01/2015 - 12:15 pm.

    11

    I’m impressed but not surprised by the dedication and eloquence of these people. Thank you, all of you, for helping organize this event and taking the risk. Many of us are standing by you.

  4. Submitted by David Hanegraaf on 04/01/2015 - 12:33 pm.

    Nice people but. . . .

    All of these people sound like good folks, and I support their cause. But people don’t have the right to go on private property and disrupt business or traffic. Sorry, but break the law and you pay the price. Never have understood the idea that you have to break the law to get your point across. I participated in peaceful, lawful anti-war protests in the 60’s and 70’s, AIDS protests, and numerous political marches. We got our point across without illegally disrupting traffic or trespassing.

  5. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/01/2015 - 01:13 pm.

    Legal advice

    One wishes that they had gotten better legal advice.

  6. Submitted by Michael Hess on 04/01/2015 - 01:23 pm.

    well intentioned but….

    “…The risk of any [chaos] would have been eliminated had the police followed the protocol I laid out for them”. I don’t think the police are in the habit of taking instruction from protest groups especially those who have confirmed their intent to trespass. The group seems committed and to have a lot of energy, and they have an important topic to address, but this MOA sideshow they have created is a distraction, not an asset to the cause.

  7. Submitted by Joann Anton on 04/01/2015 - 01:25 pm.

    MOA protest

    Hey, I don’t have prosecutorial discretion. My hands are tied. Now hand over $40,000.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/03/2015 - 03:36 pm.

      She is executing prosecutorial discretion, …

      …it’s just not the kind you wanted in this case.

      This is different than having no prosecutorial discretion. Despite the mass confusion expressed here on this matter, surely you can see that much.

  8. Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 04/01/2015 - 01:29 pm.

    Well met.

    This is a great writeup on these individuals, in their own words. It’s good to see the human face of this, so we can all know that we are talking about real people of good conscience here.

  9. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 04/01/2015 - 02:33 pm.

    You don’t get to break the law with impunity (i.e., without consequences) just because you’re a nice person. These people profiled seem like nice people. They mounted a protest on private property, knowing that the police had indicated there was public space available to them to protest outside. They had no way of knowing that the protest would be peaceful, despite all their good intentions (some of us have lived long enough to see “peaceful’ protests turn into something quite different, and not because there were police present). Of course, the police would be there!

    You don’t get to break the law with impunity because your cause is good. Not all people who disagree with your tactics dislike you, and certainly don’t “hate” you. Not all people who disagree with your tactics, disagree with your long-term goals.

    It would help if you recognized the validity of the Mall of America even existing as a place for retail commerce. The protest you organized for one of its busiest shopping days had the potential to do far more damage than any of you has stopped to think about. Failing to recognize the Mall’s right to exist as a shopping mall greatly weakens whatever argument you may put forward (the Mall is not your enemy, but you made it the target of your action).

    Think things through better.

  10. Submitted by Renoir Gaither on 04/01/2015 - 04:45 pm.

    In Solidarity with the MOA 11

    Courageous and engaging story as are the MOA 11 themselves. We are behind the MOA protesters 120%. Thanks to their courage to take a stance against police misconduct and abuse. Thanks for taking a stance against a corporate welfare recipient taking public funds while denying peaceful public assembly. Someone wrote here: “Never have understood the idea that you have to break the law to get your point across.” Obviously, that person never read Thoreau or Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela or thousands of jailed human rights advocates across the globe.

    Power to the MOA 11. The people stand in solidarity with you and against MOA. Commitment to social justice rather than corporate profit (so-called private profit gained with public assistance) is the real objective over all the bankrupt, neoliberal claptrap offered by the Canadian-owned MOA.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/02/2015 - 10:15 am.

      Thanks for your honesty

      “Commitment to social justice rather than corporate profit (so-called private profit gained with public assistance) is the real objective over all the bankrupt, neoliberal claptrap offered by the Canadian-owned MOA..”

      But I think we all knew what the objectives were all along.

  11. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/01/2015 - 09:07 pm.

    Interesting

    “The MOA 11 stand together as a brave if somewhat reluctant figurehead, a group of thought leaders who see themselves as torch bearers of their lunch-counter-sitting and back-of-the-bus–sitting forefathers and mothers before them, taking on America’s history of institutional racism itself.” I wonder if Mr. Walsh thinks that looters in Ferguson were also brave and thought leaders… I also wonder if anyone from these brave people admitted that they were wrong in their initial assessment of the Ferguson story…

    I am also curious how many community organizers a country my need?

  12. Submitted by Joe Musich on 04/01/2015 - 10:52 pm.

    Rally …

    Is the way to characterize the acivity of that day. A rally for Black Lives Matter seems to have so much for weight than a rally for One Direction. Didn’t that happen at MoA ? Now tell me again who authorized the closing of the stores at MoA on that day ?

  13. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/02/2015 - 05:52 am.

    Security

    Let’s not forget that security was present to Mall of America to protect the mass of people who were shopping there during it’s busiest and most vulnerable time of the year. As inspiring as the Gandhi and Martin Luther King references might be, the MOA was not the villain here. They were not discriminating against anyone, they were not oppressing anyone. They were in the position of having their hard work and reputation co-opted by someone else in a dispute in which they, the Mall, were not otherwise involved. There job, and it was an important one, was to provide their customers a safe place to shop.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/02/2015 - 09:03 am.

      Security

      The MOA is legally obligated to enforce it’s property rights and maintain the business environment it’s tenents have contracted for. Those are legal obligations that the mall simply cannot ignore. The Bloomington Police are obligated to remove trespassers if the makes mall that request.

      One of the requirements for all event permits at the MOA is that the event organizer obtain liability insurance. Assurances and assumptions that an event will not be violent or cause any damage are not legally binding. BLM can make all the assumptions it wants, but they made absolutely no attempt to take any kind of legal or financially binding responsibility for anything that might go wrong as a result of their unauthorized event.

      BLM can claim that everyone “knew” what the demonstration would be like, but the fact is that such things aren’t actually “knowable”… that’s why we have insurance and financial liabilities.

      The mall and the police basically had no choice but to respond to the demonstration the way they did, and BLM was warned in advance that they were provoking such a response.

      In other words, since BLM isn’t responsible for mall security any way, they simply can’t dictate a mall security response and their complaints are incoherent. Sure you may think a given security response is over the top, but since they ARE responsible for security and YOU’RE not, it’s not your call. It’s like complaining that too many fire trucks showed up for just a little smoke. Whatever.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/02/2015 - 11:38 am.

        “BLM can claim that everyone “knew” what the demonstration would be like, but the fact is that such things aren’t actually “knowable”… that’s why we have insurance and financial liabilities.”

        Yes, that claim was absurd to the point of embarrassment. No one can know how a demonstration will turn out beforehand. No one can know whether even the most peacefully intended demonstration can be used by someone else.

        This article presents some very nice, very appealing profiles. But that’s only part of the story. Maybe future MinnPost articles could give us profiles of the people who work at the Mall, trying to earn a decent living for their families, in a place with some very real security issues, and who don’t really need to be reduced to stage dressing for someone else’s publicity stunt.

  14. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 04/02/2015 - 07:38 am.

    Ferguson or lunch counters?

    Someone above tries to compare these people to looters in Ferguson instead of lunch counter sitters in Alabama in the 60s: a sad comparison that says more about the writer than the protesters.

    Since it is a public space don’t we all have a right to go to the Mall? If I go to the mall with a group of my friends just to walk around, laugh, have fun, see a boy band, don’t I have that right? Am I supposed to verify first that it won’t be a busy shopping day if my only intention is to walk around watching people spend money on stuff they really don’t need?

    And for the person above who says the cops aren’t used to working with protesters I beg to differ. Back a couple months before this country entered an immoral war against Iraq I participated in a protest that shut down half of Hennepin Avenue for several hours one day. The cops were there directing traffic. As much as we inconvenienced a few people, we didn’t murder anyone with our bombs and I think history will show, if it hasn’t already, that we were on the side of Right.

    Protests, to be effective, happen in public places: city streets, university campuses, and quasi-public places like shopping malls. I’m willing to bet that if these protesters had “gone back to where they came from” and shut down a strip mall on Plymouth Avenue, we wouldn’t have all these nitpicking comments here. I think the ultimate cost to these individuals will be worth it because it is exposing the bias of many people who would deny they have bias.

    As the old saying goes, “You’re either for us or agin’ us”. Just like you either love the boy band and block the passageways at the mall or you hate them because you can’t find a parking place for all the fans taking up spots.

    For over 200 years people of color have been treated unfairly in this country and you care complaining because in their impatience for justice they made your shopping experience a little inconvenient. Get over yourself.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/02/2015 - 08:25 am.

      Comparisons..

      “Someone above tries to compare these people to looters in Ferguson instead of lunch counter sitters in Alabama in the 60s: a sad comparison that says more about the writer than the protesters.”

      There’s no comparison either way. Anyone who attempt to make EITHER comparison simply destroys their own credibility.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/02/2015 - 06:46 pm.

      Comparisons

      Mr. Schletzer, I did not compare anything – I was just wondering what the author of the article was thinking considering that both groups of people – in Minneapolis and Ferguson – ostensibly were protesting against the same thing. My question for you though is if you are comparing the racial relations in America in 196o’s and now… So please tell me how people of color are treated unfairly now in America?

      • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 04/06/2015 - 01:18 pm.

        You are kidding, right?

        I think rather than asking me or yourself you should ask or listen to a black person share their experience, whether it’s with the cops or in stores or malls or schools or countless other ways.

        But just for the sake of argument, I bet I could sell cigarettes on Nicollet mall without getting choked to death. I bet I could sit down in the St Paul skyway and not get tased. I bet when my son acts out at school he is less likely to get suspended than a black kid. I bet if Alan Page and I went to Macy’s to buy some expensive jewelry, if they didn’t recognize him as someone famous they would be more likely to ask for his ID than mine.

        Things are better than the 60s or 50s or 1850s but there is still racisim in America. I read of a sociological experiment where they sent black and white people out on job interviews. The white guy admitted to having served time in prison. The black guy had all the qualifications the white guy had except he’d never been in prison. The interviewers, not knowing they were part of a test, were more likely to hire the white guy.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/06/2015 - 06:41 pm.

          About what?

          Mr. Schletzer, do you want me to share my experience when I felt that I was treated unfairly? Personal stories are just personal stories and do not and cannot prove any concerted efforts to discriminate. And I bet you cannot bet on any of those things you claim to bet because it depends so much on circumstance and personality…

          No one argues that there is no racism in America – there is (and there are white racists and black racists) – but there is no institutional discrimination anywhere. I don’t know if you read DOJ report on Ferguson, but I did and there is not a smidgen of proof for existence of specific intent to target black people there which stands in stark contrast to clear evidence that the City was trying to make more money by fining people (all people) for minor offences and that is proven by multiple correspondence demanding it from the police.

          Now let me give you an example: Imagine yourself walking down the street and seeing a Golden Retriever running at you. Unless you are afraid of all dogs, most likely you will not feel fear. Now imagine a Rottweiler running at you… So basically you will be judging the situation based on your general knowledge and statistics of dog bites which is a very reasonable thing to do and does not mean that you have a bias against rottweilers. Why do you condemn people for doing the same in other circumstances?

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 04/06/2015 - 02:25 pm.

      public space

      “Since it is a public space don’t we all have a right to go to the Mall? If I go to the mall with a group of my friends just to walk around, laugh, have fun, see a boy band, don’t I have that right? Am I supposed to verify first that it won’t be a busy shopping day if my only intention is to walk around watching people spend money on stuff they really don’t need?”

      Since when is the MOA public space? That is totally ignorant if you assume that before you protest there. MOA has a right to shoo away anyone it doesn’t want there be it shoplifters or protesters.

      “For over 200 years people of color have been treated unfairly in this country and you care complaining because in their impatience for justice they made your shopping experience a little inconvenient. Get over yourself.”

      An attempt to gain social justice by protest should not infringe on the rights of others. In other words two wrongs don’t make a right.

  15. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 04/02/2015 - 09:53 am.

    Once again…

    We all have “equal rights” – but it seems some have more “rights” than others.

  16. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 04/02/2015 - 02:30 pm.

    Someone, earlier, said “incoherent”. I think that sums up my opening and closing reaction to this whole BLM story.

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/03/2015 - 08:32 am.

    Isn’t there REAL issue here somewhere?

    Hiram says:

    “This article presents some very nice, very appealing profiles. But that’s only part of the story. Maybe future MinnPost articles could give us profiles of the people who work at the Mall, ”

    All true, and maybe that would be nice but frankly all we’ve been talking about for months now it the mall and these 11 people. I was actually hoping that we’d have a story of some kind about racism in America because THAT’S actually a real problem. I think we’ve already wasted too much time taking about these individuals and their arrests.

    The right to have political demonstrations in the nations malls is not even real problem, and securing such rights would do absolutely nothing to demilitarize our countries police regime or eliminate institutional and overt racism.

    My only question for BLM is this: “What have done lately?” Since the arrests it looks all you’ve done is complain about being arrested, that was four months ago. Who you are isn’t a real issue. Making malls public property or community spaces isn’t a real issue. Trespassing laws aren’t a real issue. Private property isn’t the issue.

    The problem for BLM is that they’ve become a voice for those who would trespass in the malls of America instead of a voice against racism. If black people suffering from racial bias in America are looking for a courageous voice of advocacy BLM isn’t it… they’re too busy.

    BLM seems to think that they’re big problem is fighting off these trespassing charges… charges they themselves provoked deliberately and voluntarily. The real problem for BLM at this point is that they are losing or have lost their credibility as a voice against racism. That’s sad for all of us because we need voices against racism, we don’t need the right to have a demonstration at the mall.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 04/03/2015 - 01:04 pm.

      I think the biggest problem BLM faces at the moment, is white people telling them what their message is, instead of listening to them tell you what their message is.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/04/2015 - 10:26 am.

        Absolutely

        “I think the biggest problem BLM faces at the moment, is white people telling them what their message is, instead of listening to them tell you what their message is”

        I totally agree John. I know people of color didn’t tell BLM that the right to protest in a mall was a priority, but judging from the comments around here over the last few weeks it’s absolutely a priority for a lot of white guys.

    • Submitted by Renoir Gaither on 04/03/2015 - 01:36 pm.

      You asked “My only question for BLM is this: “What have done lately?”” I task you to go to the BLM Facebook page and acquaint yourself with some of the group’s activities, especially work to garner support for allies in the fight for social justice. With a little research you might see BLM’s voice against racism. Also, we need to reclaim public spaces in which to give voice against racism–that and a lot of other things. This battle for public space was brought before the court system by MOA, not BLM. As long as social justice remains a credible goal, BLM remains a credible voice in supporting this goal.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/03/2015 - 04:32 pm.

        Face book page?

        FB? Seriously? Maybe BLM should double down and open Twitter account as well?

        The MOA was never public space so there’s nothing to reclaim. This “Battle” was fought over 20 years ago and settled. It was a BLM demonstration that landed people in court, MOA didn’t invite people into the mall so they could be arrested for trespassing and at any rate there’s plenty of legitimate public space for demonstrations.

        “As long as social justice remains a credible goal, BLM remains a credible voice in supporting this goal.”

        Credibility has to be earned, it’s not an entitlement, nor can one merely declare it.

      • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 04/06/2015 - 02:14 pm.

        delusional

        This is as delusional as it gets. BLM assumed the property was public and gave no thought or care to security, safety or anyone else but themselves when they trespassed. BLM could have easily found that the property is owned by someone and not public but their ignorance got the better of them. BLM has no credibility due to this.

  18. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 04/03/2015 - 12:41 pm.

    Black lives, white comments

    A lot of people missing the forest for the trees over multiple threads.

  19. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/05/2015 - 07:08 am.

    Subjectivity

    A lot of people missing the forest for the trees over multiple threads.

    What you see in this complicated situation is people focusing on issues that are important to them, and not focusing on issues that are important to others.
    That can be regrettable, but it’s also natural. What the BLM forces seem to have underestimated was importance placed by the Mall and Bloomington on security.

  20. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/06/2015 - 06:18 am.

    Subjectivity

    I don’t know; that’s just the way people are. I don’t know whether people pretend not to understand each other’s point of view, or that they really don’t. That the BLM people seem as oblivious as they claim to be the security risks posed by demonstrations at perhaps the most famous shopping mall in the world during the height of the Christmas shopping season seems fairly astounding to me. If they were, that’s another very convincing reason to seek outside counsel. But I know, I can’t say with any assurance what’s in someone else’s mind and heart.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/06/2015 - 09:51 am.

      It’s puzzling

      ” If they were, that’s another very convincing reason to seek outside counsel.”

      Yeah, they’re not breaking any new ground here as far as civil disobedience and protests are concerned. I can’t tell if they understood that the most likely outcome if they got arrested was that they’d be charged and convicted or not. It’s almost like they actually expect something else to happen. They should also have known that they could face civil charges by the mall. It’s weird because when you look at these profiles there are a number of people who should’ve known, and when you organize civil disobedience you kind of have a responsibility to make participants aware of the possible consequences. If you’re Martin Sheen, having 66 CD convictions on your record is no big deal, but if you’re 18 and just starting out these days a Misdemeanor conviction can be a problem.

      I don’t know what they were thinking, I just know what the most likely outcome is. In the end it’s not really going to matter what they were thinking. I hope the judge takes their individual circumstances into account.

  21. Submitted by Joe Smithers on 04/06/2015 - 11:23 am.

    Let’s hope for the students sake the law professor is removed from her position due to a lack of actual knowledge of the law. I think our law students would be better served if they had a professor that knew the law rather than activism.

  22. Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 04/08/2015 - 08:40 am.

    While many in here were busy chastising BLM for protesting police brutality against the black community in a crowded shopping mall, in which police in riot gear were called in (because “black people!”), another black man gets murdered by a cop in South Carolina over a broken tail-light, and then tried to plant evidence on the corpse.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/08/2015 - 03:42 pm.

      Or…

      Another way of looking at is that while BLM is fighting for the right to protest in shopping malls- another black man got murdered by a cop in South Carolina.

      • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 04/08/2015 - 04:31 pm.

        Sure, you could look at that way, but you’d be wrong.

        Just tell them what they are fighting for is only what you think it is, not what they are telling you it is.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/09/2015 - 08:20 am.

          Huh?

          Jonathan, I sometimes wonder if YOU are listening to BLM? Claiming the mall as public space isn’t someone else’s agenda, it’s BLM’s actual DEFENSE. They actually hijacked an MOA publicity stunt (which was a brilliant move on their part) in order to make the point last week.

      • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/08/2015 - 10:21 pm.

        I agree, Paul, that BLM’s emphasis on the trivial issue of…

        …the uses of shopping space is depressing – when weighed against the gravity of the real issues: life and death, basic human rights, killing of the innocent in South Carolina.

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