MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The activist group Black Lives Matter says that all substantive trespassing charges against the alleged organizers of last year’s Mall of America protest have been dropped.
Following a court hearing Wednesday, the group sent out a press release saying that Bloomington prosecutor Sandra Johnson dismissed the trespassing charges after attorneys for the accused filed motions to dismiss, arguing that protesters were told to “disperse” rather than leave the mall during the Dec. 20 demonstration.
Still, charges against the alleged ringleaders remain.
“I was initially charged with eight misdemeanor counts and now three of my charges have since been dismissed,” activist Nekima Levy-Pounds said in a statement. “Four of my five remaining charges are for ‘aiding and abetting,’ as opposed to substantive offenses.”
The press release also touched on another recent event in Bloomington: the protests at a dentist’s office over the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.
“[Johnson] is sending the message that if you are white and you show up on ‘private property’ in Bloomington to protest the killing of a lion, you’re safe,” activist Lena K. Gardener said. “But if you show up at the Mall of America to protest the killing of unarmed African Americans by police, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and treated like a criminal.”
Back in December, the group protested at Mall of America on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Although thousands turned out to the peaceful protest, 30 people were arrested. Later, 11 alleged leaders of the protest were charged with various misdemeanors and the possibility of having to pay police overtime.
The group is seeking greater accountability and tighter protocols for police in the wake of numerous high-profile killings of African Americans across the country.