MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A request for a temporary restraining order against Black Lives Matter by Mall of America was denied in part and granted in part Tuesday.
The mall filed the motion to stop the group from protesting there Wednesday.
MOA wanted a judge to forbid the protest and make the organizers use social media to tell people the protest has been cancelled.
The judge’s ruling says three of the organizers of Black Lives Matter can come to the mall, but cannot be involved in the protest.
“We are very pleased with the ruling,” attorney Susan Geartner said. “The court, yet again, said the law of Minnesota protects private property owners, such as the Mall of America.”
If those three individuals are found protesting on mall property Wednesday, they can be arrested and held in contempt of court.
Those organizers say the ruling will not stop the planned, peaceful protest.
“Come here and ride on rides, but don’t come here to demonstrate. There’s a place for that and Mall of America is not that place,” Geartner said. “The Mall of America’s policy is not anti-free speech — it’s just about ‘not here.'”
Officials from the mall are doing all they can to stop a repeat of last year, when more than 1,000 protesters filled the rotunda, slowing up Christmas shopping for many. Thirty demonstrators were arrested.
Mall officials say the judge’s ruling to ban three organizers from protesting is a victory for them and the thousands of mall shoppers.
Geartner says MOA singled out those three BLM members because of their leadership in the group and their social media activity.
“They’ve been out in the community, they’ve been out in social media saying, ‘Come to the mall and demonstrate,’ they’ve now been directly ordered by the court, ‘Don’t do that, it’s against the law,'” Geartner said.
Black Lives Matter took to social media this year to announce another protest at the mall. MOA filed a motion to have a temporary restraining order against those planning the gathering, and to have BLM cancel the event.
The judge ruled that BLM did not have to cancel the event on social media.
“I never planned on going back to the mall after Dec. 20 of last year,” BLM’s Michael McDowell said. “I think it’s showing very blatantly how far big businesses and corporations will go to silence peaceful protesters.”
He says even without the presence of three of its leaders, the event will go on as planned.
“There are so many of us that are, you know, stepping up and doing the work that you can … take ten of us out and we have ten more that are ready to step into that place and like do the exact same thing,” he said.
Attorney Joe Tamburino says he interprets the ruling to mean the three-named BLM leaders — Miski Noor, Kandice Montgomery and Michael McDowell — can still go to the mall, but they can’t take part in the protest.
“What is protest? What will that be? Is it simply standing still and not saying a word? And I think if they’re arrest on that, there are going to be challenges in court,” Tamburino said.
He says if the general public wants to support Black Lives Matter, it should do so early. He believes officials will move swiftly to ask BLM to leave. They will risk a ticket or arrest if they refuse.
Geartner says she has complete confidence that the mall will do everything Wednesday to keep all the last-minute shoppers safe.
BLM says it believes MOA’s attempt to stop the event has made people more determined to show up in numbers — making one of the busiest shopping days of the year much busier.
Demonstrators plan to gather at the mall at 1:30 p.m. More than 650 people have already confirmed on Facebook that they are going to the protest.