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Judge bars Black Lives Matter organizers from mall protest

A judge in Minnesota granted in part a request by the Mall of America for a restraining order against Black Lives Matter activists who have scheduled a demonstration at the shopping mecca on Wednesday, one of the busiest days of the year.

The decision bars three of the organizers — Michael McDowell, Miski Noor and Kandace Montgomery — from participating in the protest. Black Lives Matter has vowed to go forward with the demonstration as planned.

The mall’s complaint had included the group itself as a defendant, but Judge Karen A. Janisch of Hennepin County ruled that it was not an entity capable of being sued.

“The Court does not have a sufficient basis to issue an injunction as to Black Lives Matters (sic) or to unidentified persons who may be acting as its agents or in active concert with the Black Lives Matters movement,” she wrote.

The decision, Judge Janisch noted, “should not be interpreted as authorizing or permitting others to engage in political demonstration at the Mall of America without the express permission of the Mall of America.”

Mall of America, in the city of Bloomington near Minneapolis, had also asked the court to force the Black Lives Matter members to post messages on social media informing their followers that the event was canceled. That request was denied.

The national Black Lives Matter movement has been especially active in Minneapolis, where Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old unarmed black man, was fatally shot by a police officer on Nov. 15. Activists have demanded the release of videotapes related to the shooting and the prosecution of the officers involved.

Five people were shot outside a police precinct in Minneapolis during the ninth day of protests on Nov. 24. The police arrested four people in connection with the attack, and activists have called for federal terrorism charges against them.

Last December, an estimated 3,000 protesters shut down part of the Mall of America as part of a demonstration against police brutality. On the last Saturday before Christmas, protesters shouted, “While you’re on your shopping spree, black people cannot breathe,” The Associated Press reported. Officers in riot gear cleared them away.

In November, a judge dismissed charges against the organizers, ruling that the demonstration was peaceful and “not subversive.” They had faced misdemeanor charges related to trespassing, unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct. The judge kept in place trespassing charges against some individual participants.

In a letter to organizers in December, the mall’s management team said anyone participating in a demonstration “will be subject to removal from the property and potential arrest.”

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