A Minnesota judge was expected to rule Tuesday on the Mall of America’s request for a temporary restraining order to keep protesters from demonstrating there on the busy shopping day before Christmas Eve.
Black Lives Matter organizers plan to rally at the country’s biggest mall Wednesday to protest the death of Jamar Clark, who was shot by Minneapolis police Nov. 15 and later died. Police have said he was shot during a struggle, but some say Clark was handcuffed.
On Monday, protesters vowed to hold their protest regardless of Judge Karen Janisch’s ruling.
“We’re not going to be canceling,” organizer Miski Noor told reporters. “Us not showing up and us not speaking would be the mall winning.”
The mall wants to avoid the type of disruption caused by a Christmas-time demonstration last year, when thousands of protesters angry over the absence of charges involving police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City forced the temporary closure of mall stores. Dozens of people were arrested.
Authorities have declined to release video of the Clark shooting while state and federal investigations are underway.
Protest organizers are seeking a special prosecutor to be appointed in Clark’s death rather than have a grand jury decide whether to charge the officers involved in his death. In addition they want federal terrorism charges to be brought against four men who shot at protesters outside a Minneapolis police precinct last month, injuring five.
Beyond barring the protest, the mall’s request would also require organizers to remove posts with plans of the demonstration from social media and to send out notifications that the event has been canceled. The mall, which is privately owned and doesn’t allow protests, contends that another demonstration would mean more lost sales for its vendors.
After attempting to directly dissuade Black Lives Matter from following through last week, mall attorney Susan Gaertner said a restraining order would make it clear that the mall — privately owned property — prohibits demonstrations. She repeatedly stressed that the mall’s opposition to Black Lives Matter was not about their message, but about the group’s chosen venue and the potential for disrupting last-minute holiday shopping.
“The Mall of America is no more an appropriate place for a demonstration than it would be around my dinner table,” she said.
Jordan Kushner, an attorney for several Black Lives Matter organizers named in the mall’s lawsuit, called the mall’s demands unconstitutional.
“They could tell people to stay away from their property, but they cannot tell people what to say or what not to say,” Kushner said. “It’s trying to control their speech.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.