Bloomington, Minnesota City Attorney Sandra Johnson is expected to file criminal charges against the organizers of a massive protest that took place at the Mall of America last Saturday afternoon over the deaths of Michael Brown of Ferguson, MO and Eric Garner of New York, NY at the hands of police officers during arrest.
In all, approximately 3,000 individuals attended the protest that partially shut down the mall for about two hours at the height of the Christmas shopping season driving away customers and causing financial damage to the affected stores during the highly charged standoff.
Using social media including Facebook and Twitter, a protest mob converged on the center of the mall to chant “Black Lives Matter”, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and “While you’re on your shopping spree, black people cannot breathe” knowing the protest would be highly visible at a commercial center located on private property.
To determine the amount of financial damage suffered by the protest, Mall officials collected estimates of how much money the stores lost on that Saturday and combined that total with the amount of overtime put in by police to monitor the protest and quell unrest.
Johnson said the number would be “staggering” and that she wants the protest organizers to pay.
An employee at one of the affected stores said ”you had people yelling and screaming inside the mall that wanted out and you had people yelling and screaming outside the mall that wanted in.”
“This was a powder keg just waiting for a match,” said Johnson who is now building criminal cases against the protest organizers. “The main perpetrators are those who continued on their Facebook site to invite people illegally to the Mall of America,” she said.
Lena Gardner of the group “Black Lives Matter” said several groups took part in organizing Saturday’s protest and that financial losses were not the fault of protesters instead blaming police who shut down the mall.