BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) – Activists with the group Black Lives Matter called Wednesday’s protest that started at the Mall of America and ended at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport a success.

In the moments leading up to the planned demonstration, which the group Black Lives Matter Minneapolis announced a week in advance, the nation’s largest shopping mall closed the area surrounding its main rotunda.

Businesses like Build-A-Bear turned away customers and shut their doors as officers wearing masks herded protesters and shoppers out of the eastern section of the mall.

“I never feel safe when there’s a mass of [officers] in military gear,” said Black Lives Matter supporter Chauntyll Allen. “Doesn’t feel like they are protecting or serving us at all.”

Some protesters were arrested and led off by police. Hundreds, however, walked to the nearby light rail station, with many boarding trains to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where they disrupted traffic on the day before Christmas Eve.

Other protesters stayed behind at the mega mall, to chant and protest outside. Some mall workers got caught up with the protesters, and weren’t allowed to re-enter the mall.

Wearing masks and armed with batons, police guarded the eastern mall entrance and forced do the protesters back to bus and train stations.

Protesters called their demonstration peaceful and purposeful.

Allen says the group needs to keep demonstrating at “economic pressure points.”

“They only hear us with money,” she added.

Protesters dispersed from the mall after being outside for about an hour.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield