The Mall of America has given up its claim to restitution in the Black Lives Matter protest case, but that’s not a sign that the mall wants the case dropped, Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson said Wednesday.
“This has nothing to do with the prosecutions themselves,” Johnson said. “To make it very clear, this is not pressuring the city to drop the charges or to do anything else with respect to the current prosecution.”
The mall had previously indicated it would seek roughly $40,000 in restitution for additional security and other costs arising from the Black Lives Matter protest in the mall rotunda on Dec. 20. Johnson said Bloomington is still likely to seek restitution for its own additional police costs. Restitution could be awarded at the judge’s discretion if the protesters are convicted.
In a statement, the mall said the case “should continue to focus on the property rights of a landowner. MOA does not want a potential restitution claim distracting from that point. The decisions of if and how to prosecute this case have been, and remain exclusively with, the city of Bloomington.”
Nekima Levy-Pounds, one of 11 protesters charged in the case, said Wednesday the mall has told Black Lives Matter that it will not attempt to pursue a lawsuit against the protesters after the criminal case ends, no matter the outcome. Levy-Pounds called on prosecutor Johnson to acknowledge the political implications of the case and of her decision to press forward.
“I just want her to own the fact that she has discretion,” said Levy-Pounds, a lawyer and a law professor at the University of St. Thomas. “Prosecutors never prosecute 100 percent of the cases that come before them.
“To act as if her discretion is being neutrally applied — of course there’s political influence involved,” she said. “The mall is a big business.”