The city of Bloomington, Minnesota, plans to file criminal charges against Black Lives Matter protest organizers after hundreds of demonstrators crashed Mall of America and forced the private shopping center to partially close down.
At least 20 protesters were arrested Saturday night during the demonstration, which took place despite repeated warnings by the mall that protesters would be arrested.
Protesters shouted “black lives matter,” “hands up, don’t shoot” and “no justice, no peace.” Some raised their hands in the air and staged a “die-in” in solidarity with Michael Brown and Eric Garner — two unarmed black men who died at the hands of police.
On one of the busiest shopping days of the year, management was forced to shut down the stores on one side of the mall. Officials are reportedly gathering estimates of how much money the stores lost.
City Attorney Sandra Johnson is building criminal cases against the protest organizers and is looking to get restitution for money lost by the mall, as well as the amount of overtime put in by police, a local CBS affiliate reported.
“The main perpetrators are those who continued on their Facebook site to invite people illegally to the Mall of America,” she said.
Police are looking at the group’s social media activity, as well as video of the demonstration.
Lena K. Gardner of the “Black Lives Matter” group argued that the financial losses are the fault of the police, not the protesters. She compared it to an instance last year when thousands gathered in the rotunda to sing a song to raise awareness for cancer, the CBS affiliate reported.
“We came to sing carols and raise awareness,” she insisted, “and the Bloomington police are the ones who shut down the mall, not us.”