Have Cause, Will Travel! BLM Protest Goes Mobile in MN

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Black Lives Matter Protest / Nicholas Upton

December 23, 2015; WSFA-TV (Minneapolis, MN)

The death of Jamar Clark in a shooting by Minneapolis police has sparked a number of demonstrations in Minnesota, including one occupation outside of the police station during which five demonstrators were shot. (The suspects in that shooting are now in custody.) But the Black Lives Matter activists are not easily deterred from their work, organizing a protest at the Mall of America for December 23rd. This MOA protest would have been the second in two years, based on the idea that interfering with the flow of money always gets the public’s attention.

The Mall tried to block the action through getting a restraining order against the group, one of the provisions of which would be to forbid group members from organizing others on social media. (Frankly, we can’t think of any action more likely to create a backlash among young activists.) Not only did the court turn that part of the suit down, only restraining three members of the group from themselves attending the rally, but the activists themselves showed up as promised.

Around 500 people showed up in the mall, but they did not stay long after running into an advancing blockade of police officers, a reaction which they would have anticipated, given that plans to bring in a contingent of state troopers was made clear well in advance of the action. They removed themselves and quickly moved by light rail to Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, where they blocked access to one of its two terminals for around two hours, and then to the streets, where they blocked traffic around the airport.

Organizers now say the Mall action was a decoy, masking the intention to do the airport protest. They also revealed that it was one action in a six-city coordinated plan. Other protests occurred in L.A., San Francisco, D.C., Chattanooga, and Chicago. —Ruth McCambridge