Once again, Black Lives Matter St. Paul is threatening to “shut down’’ a popular shopping mall that attracts large crowds of shoppers over the weekends. And once again, that type of threat will do more harm than good to the worthy cause.
Following two protests that temporarily blocked interstate freeways, the new target is Rosedale Mall. In a Friday Facebook post, BLM announced a 1 p.m. Sunday demonstration. “Let’s shut it down,’’ it read, “Let’s hit them where it hurt$.’’ BLM calls for the city of Falcon Heights to end its contract with St. Anthony police, the department involved in Philando Castile’s death during a traffic stop July 6.
Instead of disrupting activities at Rosedale, BLM should work with authorities and mall managers to hold a safe, peaceful demonstration. Models for that include protests at the State Fair, the Crashed Ice competition and the Twin Cities Marathon during the past year. In those cases, protest leaders and authorities collaborated to serve both purposes — demonstrators marched and events proceeded.
Protesters also should note that Rosedale and other malls are not public spaces; courts have ruled that owners may protect their property rights, business purpose, and the safety of employees and customers.
BLM has every right to bring attention to police-involved shootings and other racial disparities. Its goals are laudable. But purposeful disruption does little to change the way African-Americans and others have been treated by some police officers, or to narrow disparities in health, education, housing and employment. It just risks alienating those who might otherwise support the cause.