To: Mall of America Owners: The Triple Five Group
Mall of America: Show you believe that Black lives matter
On December 20th, 2014, your mall was chosen as a site for a mass public gathering to show that Black lives matter. Now, you have a chance to show whether or not you believe this to be true.
The Mall of America’s response to this historic moment in the fight for racial justice in this country will be remembered as an aggressive attack on the first amendment right to free speech. It will be clear that the Triple Five Group values profit over Black lives and will maintain order and business as usual regardless of how many people of color are shot dead at the hands of the police in this country’s war against Black bodies.
The Triple Five Group’s tactic of criminalizing the protestors has already prompted and will continue to inspire thousands of people to boycott the Mall of America, unless you decide to show that Black lives do matter to the Triple Five Group by doing the following:
1) Tell Sandra Johnson to drop the criminal charges against all 36 of those arrested in connection with the Black Lives Matter protest in December.
2) Demand that the request for restitution for police overtime and lost mall revenues be rescinded.
It is the war on black communities that is criminal in this country, not the demonstrations against it. Adding a price to protest makes us even less of a free and fair democracy. Do not contribute to that process.
What side of history will you be on? Tell Sandra Johnson to drop the fines and charges, and be on the side of racial justice.
Why is this important?
On December 20th, 2014, over 3,000 people gathered in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, to protest the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and the thousands of other Black Americans brutally killed by police. Chanting “Black Lives Matter!” and reaffirming the value of Black humanity, the protestors challenged our law enforcement and legal system to own up to and stop their racist attacks on Black lives.
Unfortunately, what protestors got in response was a declaration of war. The police showed up in full riot gear, shut down parts of the mall and arrested 25 protestors. Since then, the mall owners, Canada-based Triple Five Group, have been working with the Bloomington city prosecutor to “make an example” of 11 “ringleaders” of the protest (1). This is a clear example of why protestors were in the mall in the first place: discriminatory, militarized policing and the criminalization of people of color by both law enforcement and the justice system. Bloomington city authorities have a chance to continue in this racist tradition or reverse these practices going forward.
70,000 educators, 170,000 Amalgamated Traffic Union members, 100+ clergy members, and the Minnesota AFL-CIO have urged for change, asking the city prosecutor, Sandra Johnson, to drop the charges against the protestors (2). They point out that peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy and the precedent that this prosecution sets is both shameful and dangerous for the future of dissent in this country. When private property is legally valued over Black lives, we know our country has a problem. Instead of wasting public funds quashing this critical voice, Johnson could be engaging in an effort to make the justice system work for those who do not receive fair and equal treatment.
Despite all of these calls from the public to stop heavy-handed tactics used against these protestors, Sandra Johnson has maintained that she will prosecute the defendants no matter what (3). Indeed, eleven of the purported organizers were arraigned on March 10th and charged with six misdemeanors, including trespassing and disorderly conduct. Perhaps most disturbing is that Johnson is demanding $40,000 in restitution for police overtime and lost revenue (4). This is dangerous to our democracy and our first amendment right to protest. When public protest, shown throughout history to be one of the most effective forces for social change, is criminalized and monetized, how can we hope to address major inequities in our society?
This is why we are hoping you will join in asking the mall owners, the Triple Five Group, to tell the prosecutor to drop the charges against the Black Lives Matter protestors. If the Group tells the attorney to discontinue this aggressive, unjust pursuit, she will be forced to stay true to her word or listen to the overwhelming voice of the people and back down. Yes, Johnson has said that she must do her job without paying attention to public opinion; she must uphold justice and the law, immune to outside influence. But what about when our laws are unjust? When “justice” consistently, negatively, and disproportionately affects people of color?
This is a crucial moment in our nation’s movement for racial justice, and the justice system is a crucial site of struggle. That is why we all must collectively put pressure on the system. It is time for change. Join me in urging the Mall of America owners to demand that Sandra Johnson drop the charges against the protestors so that she is forced to listen to the call for racial justice.
How it will be delivered
Signatures will be emailed to the Triple Five Group