I’m one of those silly Minnesotans who actually enjoys the Mall of America. I like the big indoor amusement park, I like the over-priced special exhibitions (the Star Trek exhibit was cool!). I like the indoor walking and people watching and window shopping and the Sea Life aquarium and the Mirror Maze and the giant Lego store. I like the visiting the shops that you don’t see anywhere else in this area, like the Peeps store and Paciugo Gelato.
But I did not like (ah, understatement) how the Mall of America responded to the nonviolent act of civil disobedience that took place in their rotunda on December 20th of this past year.
There have been some Very Nice People who have tried to walk the line between defending the City of Bloomington, the Mall of America and Black Lives Matter. But the fact of the matter is that the Mall of America could have chosen to support Black Lives Matter and their message of calling out policy brutality. MOA could have respected the nonviolent demonstration and the nonviolent protesters. Instead they wasted the time leading up to the protest to take preemptive measures to make sure they would be able to criminalize and prosecute the organizers. They preemptively worked with a Bloomington city attorney to make sure they would be able to punish demonstrators. Instead of supporting protesters, they called out police in force. They shut down stores and made arrests. They divided our community much more evenly into “us vs. them” than we might have been, and they muddied the waters of what was a valid and much needed protest by righteously angry citizens.
So I haven’t been to MOA since then. I don’t support the tactics that MOA and the city of Bloomington have employeed. I don’t want to live in a place where people have to be afraid of government retaliation when they speak out against government injustices.
It has been reported that that “mall officials are no longer seeking restitution for lost revenue due to the protest.” Yippee. Lost revenue that they helped create by forcing store owners to close down shop during the protest. Expenses for the private security that they hired to turn an act of peaceful protest into a legal and political circus. The City of Bloomington is still prosecuting the MOA 11 – eleven organizers of the December protest. They returned to court last Friday, May 1st for a pretrial hearing.
I won’t be quietly slipping back into the mall as news of the protest and the prosecution dies down. I’m done. I see you and I’m done.