- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) - The Bloomington city attorney is pursuing criminal charges against the organizers of a protest inside the Mall of America after police shut down stores for about two hours during the demonstration.

City Attorney Sandra Johnson tells WCCO-TV (http://cbsloc.al/1JNVUll ) that mall officials are figuring out how much money stores lost on Saturday. Johnson is also figuring out the cost of overtime for police, and she expects to file criminal charges soon.

Johnson said she wants organizers of the police brutality protest to pay restitution. She’s focusing on those who kept promoting the rally after they were told it was prohibited on private property.

“The main perpetrators are those who continued on their Facebook site to invite people illegally to the Mall of America,” she said.

Police officers locked down about 80 stores and several mall entrances after protesters started chanting. “This was a powder keg just waiting for a match,” Johnson said. No injuries or property damage were reported.

Police are reviewing protesters’ social media accounts and video from inside the mall.

“Who led that march through the Mall of America?” Johnson said. “If we can identify those people who were inciting others to continue with this illegal activity, we can consider charges against them, too.”

Lena Gardner of “Black Lives Matter” said financial losses aren’t protesters’ fault. She said the mall should’ve welcomed their message like they’ve done with other groups who’ve used the rotunda to raise awareness.

“We came to sing carols and raise awareness,” she said. “The Bloomington police are the ones who shut down the mall, not us.”

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Information from: WCCO-AM, http://www.wccoradio.com

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