“Today’s protest was our biggest success yet,” said Mica Grimm, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis. “Thousands of people stood together, refused to be intimidated, and disrupted business as usual on the busiest shopping day of the year at the biggest mall in the country. As long as innocent Black and brown lives are disrupted by police without consequence, we cannot go about business as usual.”
Police and security decided to shut down stores and entrances across the entire mall for hours in response, and as the singing ended and participants began to exit, police in full riot gear confronted the crowd.
Entire groups of workers left their stores to join the demonstration standing outside of their stores with hands raised until police ordered them back inside.
At least 12 individuals were arrested including community leaders who were targeted outside of of the mall, pulled from the crowd, and detained.
“In this season which is supposed be about love and peace, it felt like holy work to join such a well organized and peaceful demonstration to demand justice and honor Black lives,” said Rev. Justin Schroeder, Senior Minister at First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, “I stood with my wife and six year old son and dozens of clergy and many people of faith. I was disappointed to see the police meeting peaceful protesters in full riot gear. For my family showing up at this protest was the most important thing we could do this holiday season.”
Minneapolis City Council members Alondra Cano and Cam Gordon wrote letters to Mall of America Management yesterday urging them not to interfere with the planned peaceful gathering.
“The Mall of America received $250 million in taxpayer dollars in 2013 alone, yet they refused to let members of the public peacefully express their frustration with a broken system,” Said organizer Mike McDowell. “That money should go towards providing jobs, housing and education to close the worst in the country equity gaps in our state, not to corporate subsidies. We won’t stop until our communities have what we need to thrive.”
Organizers put forward these demands for today’s gathering:
Our basic demands are an immediate end to the unjust police murders of unarmed Black people, including Black children and teens, and for Minnesota to take measures to eliminate the worst racial disparities in policing in the country. Our proposed policy solutions include:
State adoption of legislation to end racial profiling, including an end to MOA’s illegal racial profiling.
Require all Minnesota law enforcement officers to take implicit bias and cultural competency training.
Establish an independent community review board for police departments and establish a federal oversight system.
Increase the number of officers that live in the communities they serve.
De-militarize local law enforcement across the country.