MINNEAPOLIS – The local chapter of Black Lives Matter announced Thursday that it will return to the Mall of America during the Christmas shopping season to protest the fatal shooting of a black man by Minneapolis police.
Jamar Clark, 24, was shot Nov. 15 during what police said was a struggle. Some who say they saw the shooting claim Clark was handcuffed at the time. State and federal investigations are underway.
Protesters said they’ll hold a rally at the Mall of America on Wednesday, two days before Christmas, unless authorities meet demands including the release of videos showing the shooting. Authorities have said they will not release the videos while the investigation is ongoing because it could compromise their work.
Protesters are also calling for a special prosecutor to be appointed, rather than have a grand jury decide whether the officers should be charged. In addition, they want federal terrorism charges to be brought against four men who shot at protesters last month, injuring five.
Organizers say the demonstration will be peaceful.
Thousands participated in a similar protest at the large mall last Dec. 20 that disrupted holiday shopping and prompted the mall to temporarily close some stores. Dozens of people were arrested in that protest, which was part of demonstrations nationwide after police officers weren’t charged in the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Missouri.
Last month, a judge dismissed charges against 11 of the protest organizers, including misdemeanour counts of aiding and abetting trespass. But trespassing charges against some participants remained in place.
The mall is private property and does not allow protests. Susan Gaertner, the mall’s attorney, said Hennepin County Chief Judge Peter Cahill’s order clearly stated that as private property, the mall has a right to ban protests.
“Mall of America will continue to prohibit protests on its property no matter how righteous the cause might be,” Gaertner said. “They do that in order to protect the safety and experience of its guests.”
She added that the mall will pursue all appropriate legal remedies if the protest proceeds.
Clark was shot by an officer and died a day later. Authorities have said that the police officers were responding to a report of an assault in which Clark was a suspect, and they arrived to find him interfering with paramedics who were trying to treat the victim. Police said a struggle followed and Clark was shot, but some say he was handcuffed.
Protesters spent more than two weeks camped outside the local police precinct to protest the shooting, but authorities shut down that demonstration earlier this month. The activists have also held marches through downtown Minneapolis, rallies at City Hall and a protest that temporarily blocked traffic on the interstate, resulting in 42 arrests.
Black Lives Matter Minneapolis organizer Miski Noor said the protesters are holding these demonstrations to seek justice for Clark.
“If it’s not clear yet: we won’t stop until we get it,” she said in a statement. “Though they destroyed the community space we created, they can’t destroy our resolve to fight until we get justice for Jamar Clark and liberation for black people.”
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