Mall of America management and Bloomington police were bracing for a planned protest as part of the national Black Lives Matter movement Saturday — traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the holiday season.
Community organizers, who are calling for a protest starting at 2 p.m. in response to recent police shootings of unarmed black men, vow they will carry on as planned in the mall’s rotunda even though they’ve been warned to keep their demonstration outside.
The protest had drawn more than 3,000 confirmations on its Facebook page as of Friday night.
Mall representatives have said that a demonstration at the mall would violate policy, and protesters could be removed, arrested and banned.
“Mall of America is a commercial retail and entertainment center. We respect the right to free speech, but Mall of America is private property and not a forum for protests, demonstrations or public debates,” mall management said in an earlier statement.
As an alternative, the mall and the city of Bloomington urged protesters to use the former Alpha Business Center lot, which is public property adjacent to the mall, according to a letter from the mall posted on the Black Lives Matter Minneapolis Facebook page.
Organizers have rejected that idea and have accused the mall of intimidation tactics. “We have no choice but to move forward with this nonviolent gathering,” organizer Michael McDowell said in a statement.