Mall of America protesters unite against killer cops and capitalism

Protesters inside Mall of America. Credit: Brandon Long

Inside the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Dec. 23. Credit: Brandon Long

On December 23 this year, the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Lives Matter organizers from Minneapolis returned to the Mall of America, the largest mall in the U.S., which they had shut down last year, again to protest police violence with a particular focus on the case of 24-year-old Jamar Clark, who was killed by North Minneapolis police on Nov. 15. MOA sought a restraining order to prohibit any protest. The court however, only granted a restraining order on the presence of three organizers of the action, and refused to force the group to announce the cancellation of the demonstration.

Black Lives Matter at Minn-St. Paul Airport Dec. 23, 2015, credit: Brandon Long
Protest outside Minn-St. Paul Airport Dec. 23, 2015, credit: Brandon Long

After successfully shutting down 80 stores inside Mall of America in spite of a massive police presence, the well-organized protesters hopped on light rail and traveled to the nearby Minneapolis-St.Paul International airport, shutting down terminals and surrounding streets on the busiest travel day of the year. “The mall was a decoy,” said Black Lives Matter organizer Miski Noor, who protested at the airport. “I think it was really effective.”

The struggle for justice for Jamar Clark has been intense and ongoing since his killing at the hands of police. Activists had held an encampment at the 4th precinct police station, where, on Nov. 23, armed racists shot and injured 5 Black protesters. Protesters have demanded the immediate release of video of the shooting of Clark, which, to date, MN police refuse to do.

Simultaneous coordinated demonstrations also took place on California’s busiest freeways. On Wednesday, protesters calling themselves Black Xmas shut down traffic on U.S. Highway 101 to San Francisco International Airport in Northern California, demanding justice for Mario Woods, killed execution style by SF police. In Southern California, demonstrators shut down all five southbound lanes by walking onto Southern California’s busy 405 freeway, demanding justice for Ezell Ford, a young Black man shot and killed by the Los Angeles Police Department

Black lives matter more than capitalist greed

“When you’re thinking about tearing down white supremacy, you got to go to the places that’ll be hurt or crippled by a loss of funds,” said Jason Sole, an anti-police violence protester and adjunct professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul. (New York Times)

“While I’m delayed an hour and a half to get back to my family for Christmas, I know there are several Black families mourning the loss of innocent Black men,” said Mike Griffin, a 29-year-old from Minneapolis, who took part in similar protests last year. His flight to Chicago was among those delayed. “My mom is a little bit annoyed, but she’s going to see me this holiday season,” he said. (Associated Press)

On Thursday, Chicago protesters marched along Michigan Avenue demanding the resignation of both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez for their part in delaying the release of video showing police shooting Laquan McDonald. “The people are all committed here,” said Rev. Gregory Livingston, Coalition for a New Chicago. “They want to see change. They came here to see change.” (ABC News)

Speaking on behalf of the ruling class, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said protests against police violence were creating a “very, very dangerous situation.” He questioned the need for such demonstrations, and further claimed showing the Public video of cops shooting Clark, as protesters demand, could jeopardize investigations. (AP)

Racism, free speech and the free flow of capital

Protesters clearly see a link between the capitalist system and systemic racism.

“They talk about this demonstration as being disruptive,” said, Art Seratoff, a 67-year-old protester from Minneapolis, “If I think about an unemployment rate in the African-American community three times the white unemployment rate, that’s disruptive.” (AP)

“When you disrupt their flow of capital… they actually start paying attention… that’s the only way that they’ll hear us,” said organizer Kandace Montgomery, one of the three organizers who had been banned by the court from appearing at the MOA, at the request of its owners in an attempt to silence dissent. (USA Today)

Meanwhile, Susan Gaertner, an attorney for Mall of America, pressed for a restraining order against demonstrators by disingenuously asking “You have to ask,” Gaertner said, “Would you want us to permit a demonstration by white supremacists? Of course not. The Mall of America is consistent: no demonstrations, no matter how righteous the cause.” (New York Times) In reality, the Mall of America is itself a daily demonstration of capitalist white supremacy.

Black Lives Matter organizer Miski Noor said a restraining order would not stop the group from protesting. (CNN)

“Today, on one of the busiest days of the holiday season, Black communities across the United States are taking brave actions to impede the flow of goods and commerce with peaceful protests to call for an immediate overhaul of the justice system both locally and nationally that will demand accountability for police, removal of grand juries in cases involving police shootings, an immediate halt to militarized police units and weapons, and extensive review of racialized police practices in Black neighborhoods.”

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