Community organizers say they have been told by Mall of America management and Bloomington police not to hold a protest inside the mall on Saturday.
The organizers, who are calling for a protest as part of the national "Black Lives Matter" movement responding to recent police shootings of unarmed black men, vow they will carry on as planned in the mall's rotunda.
The protest had drawn 2,000 confirmations on its Facebook page as of Wednesday afternoon. Saturday also is one of the busiest shopping days of the holiday season.
Mall representatives have said that a demonstration at the mall would violate policy, and protesters could be removed, arrested and banned.
On Tuesday, Bloomington police officers visited the homes of a few organizers to discourage them from holding the protest, according to a news release from the group Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.
Bloomington police did attempt to reach out to several of the group's organizers to open lines of communication, "and that's all we are doing," said Deputy Chief Rick Hart on Wednesday.
The police visit followed a letter that was delivered by courier Friday from Mall of America management explaining to the organizers that the mall is private property and demonstrations are prohibited, according to the group.
"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 a 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 the lot and have said the mall is using intimidation tactics. "We have no choice but to move forward with this nonviolent gathering," organizer Michael McDowell said in a statement.
DAVID CHANEN and NICOLE NORFLEET