Still Boycotting the Mall of America

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.

A line of helmeted police walk down a mall walkway toward a protester and media.
CC/Flickr/Nicholas Upton

Photo taken from the rotunda among protesters. A large screen in the rotunda reads "THIS DEMONSTRATION IS NOT AUTHORIZED AND IS IN CLEAR VIOLATION OF MALL OF AMERICA POLICY. WE EXPECT ALL PARTICIPANTS TO DISPERSE AT THIS TIME. THOSE WHO CONTINUE TO DEMONSTRATE WILL BE SUBJECT TO ARREST."
CC/Flickr/Daily Chalkupy

A view from the parking garage. "Welcome to the Mall of America" is on the sign directly above a line of heavily armed and suited police. More police are seen in the background on the mall side.
CC/Flickr/Daily Chalkupy

Photo taken from the second floor of the mall. ON the first floor a line of security guards and heavily armed and suited cops form a line across a mall walkway leading into the rotunda. On the second floor, people are pressed up against the railing, looking out over the scene below.
CC/Flickr/Nicholas Upton

A sign posted near an entry into the mall "MALL OF AMERICA IS PRIVATE PROPERTY. Demonstrations and protests are strictly prohibited. Those violating these rules are subject to eviction and trespass."
CC/Flickr/Daily Chalkupy

Taken from the first floor of the mall. Two lines of heavily armed and suited cops stand ready to follow orders.
CC/Flickr/Daily Chalkupy

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.

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Still Boycotting the Mall of America
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6 thoughts on “Still Boycotting the Mall of America

  1. 1

    To some extent, I can see where they’re coming from with this. If they allowed this protest, then they would pretty much have to allow every group that wanted to stage a protest to show up. Think how many marches and demonstrations there are every year on the National Mall. Minneapolis is a lot closer for most of the country. So while this one cause is undoubtedly worthy, there could be a flood of counterprotestors, Tea Party types, gun nuts, and the whole nine yards. If I was in charge of a shopping mall, I wouldn’t want it to get the reputation of Hyde Park.

    That said, surely there was a better way they could have handled this. Maybe they could have roped off an area just outside one of the entrances, and designated it an “official free speech area,” and come up with an appropriate registration process to use it just Byzantine enough to discourage all but the most dedicated groups. If they didn’t treat it as a big hairy deal, the whole situation might never have blown up.

    Also, I’ve been involved with various radical groups in my time, and I know that there are some people at many protests who are looking to find where the line has been drawn, so that they can cross it and get arrested. It’s a protest strategy — whether it’s an effective one or not is open to debate.

  2. 4

    I hadn’t heard about this at all, and I’m also Minnesotan. Brucegee @1 made some good points, and I have to admit that, as private property, they have the right to deny protests on their grounds, but what a ham-handed way to go about it.

  3. 5

    The protesters were given an alternative venue to have their protest. Unfortunately, they decided to break the law. I do not understand why they thought they were entitled to protest on private property. I fully support their right to have a peaceful protest as well as their cause, but such childish behavior should not be supported.

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