Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson expects to file criminal charges against “Black Lives Matter” organizers responsible for the protest that shut down the Mall of America Saturday, CBS Minnesota reports.
Despite repeated warnings from officials that the mall was private property, “Black Lives Matter” organizers carried out the protest during one of the most important shopping days of the year. A flood of protestors converged on the MOA rotunda Saturday, forcing a shutdown of around 80 stores for about two hours.
Now protest leaders face paying a high price for what the city maintains are illegal actions. Johnson says the losses in sales and the cost to the city will be “staggering.” Mall officials are currently gathering estimates of losses from the stores affected while the city is calculating the costs for overtime put in by police.
“This was a powder keg just waiting for a match,” said Johnson. “The main perpetrators are those who continued on their Facebook site to invite people illegally to the Mall of America.”
“If we can identify those people who were inciting others to continue with this illegal activity,” said Johnson, “we can consider charges against them too.”
Johnson is building a criminal case against protest leaders, with police collecting evidence from mall security cameras and the group’s social media posts.
Meanwhile, “Black Lives Matter” says the police, not protestors, are to blame for the shutdown and have pointed to other groups as participating in the protest as well.
“We came to sing carols and raise awareness,” said group member Lena K. Gardner, “and the Bloomington police are the ones who shut down the mall, not us.”