Just an hour before protesters planned to gather and shut down Rosedale shopping center, organizers called off the event as dozens of security officers took up positions at mall entrances late Sunday morning.
Black Lives Matter St. Paul had said it would target the mall in response to the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile earlier this month in nearby Falcon Heights with a protest at an undisclosed location inside the mall. “Lets shut it down,” read the post late last week on the group’s Facebook page. “Lets hit them where it hurt$.”
Business seemed normal Sunday afternoon, but several stores and restaurants opened late.
“The Rosedale mall has already started to shut itself down,” Black Lives Matter St. Paul said in a Sunday Facebook posting. “Stores have already closed or are in the process of closing down. Economic impact? Boom. … We have achieved the economic impact we were aiming for and therefore we have no need to go to the mall at 1 p.m. today.”
Another factor in deciding to cancel Sunday’s Rosedale protest was news that a gunman killed three police officers in Baton Rouge, La., shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday, said Khulia Pringle, an organizer with Black Lives Matter St. Paul. In the same week that Castile was killed, a black man in Baton Rouge was fatally shot by police.
The Black Lives Matter Facebook posting also mentioned a previously undisclosed “other action … that has also been called off,” then pointed to a possible Monday action.
There will be a demonstration Monday in Falcon Heights, Pringle said via text message, but she did not confirm location or time.
“We will be echoing the demands of residents in Falcon Heights to terminate the city’s contract with St. Anthony police department,” Pringle said.
About a dozen Roseville police officers and other members of local law enforcement joined mall security at the shopping center. They were opening doors for people heading in and distributing “Rules of Conduct” cards.
Positioned outside near the mall’s movie theaters was a piece of heavy equipment with a “cherry picker” that hoisted officers for a better view of the shopping center and adjacent Hwy. 36. Several State Patrol vehicles were waiting near the highway.
Roseville police would not comment how many officers were there and whether they were working overtime. Shopping center officials were not available for comment.
Several supporters showed up at the mall without knowing the event was canceled. Aisha Masakella, 69, said she was “disappointed” that BLM and other supporters didn’t show up Sunday.