After Mall protest, a threat of overplayed hands

Demonstrators filled the Mall of America rotunda and chanted “Black lives matter” to protest police brutality, then staged a “die-in.” Aaron Lavinsky / The Star Tribune via AP

Last weekend’s protest at the Mall of America could make an entire syllabus for a public relations class at any area university. It’s a battle of the messages and it involves people who know what they’re doing.

Had the Black Lives Matter group been allowed to protest at the mall without drama and then gone off to do its Christmas shopping, we’d already have moved on to other distractions.

The Minnesota State Patrol provided that lesson a week earlier when it let a protest on I-35W burn itself out. Rather than confront the protesters, it protected them.

But the Mall, which employs some of the sharpest PR minds in the business, couldn’t ease its long-standing policy of not allowing unauthorized demonstrations, citing the inconvenience on its shoppers.

Several days earlier, six times as many people showed up for a sing-a-long to raise money for cancer research and no shoppers were terribly inconvenienced. That, presumably, was authorized.

But there’s a reason the Mall of America was the setting for the protest in the first place: Protest needs drama to get the media’s attention. And we cooperated fully when mall officials warned the protesters to stay away three days before it was to be held.

“This is not about violence; this is not about bashing cops, or ‘F the police,’ as people tend to yell,” Michael McDowell, a leader of Black Lives Matter Minnesota said at the time. “It’s about systemic change and figuring out about how we can bring about some policy that’s going to filter out the cops that are not abiding by the law.”

The group couldn’t possibly have gotten the word out any better without the help of the mall’s bunker mentality.

Sure enough, on Saturday, relegated to a fourth-floor perch, reporters and camera people were ready to document what they came to find: a showdown between opposing forces.

Mall officials ratcheted things up by forcing stores to close in the interest of safety, even though the protest was entirely peaceful. That only made things worse because it trapped both shoppers and protesters who were already in the process of dispersing from the mall which famously makes it nearly impossible to figure out how to get out.

But the Mall had to take a stand to underscore its “private property” status, using public employees in riot gear to do it.

Nearly More than two dozen were arrested, the Black Lives Matter message got plenty of coverage, the Mall looked in control to its target demographic, and news organizations had a rootin’ tootin’ story on one of the slowest Saturdays of the year.

Now what?

The threat to Black Lives Matter is that a new focus on the private-property status of the Mall of America overwhelms its broader message of justice. There’s some evidence that’s already happening as some supporters tweet images of the 1960 protest by blacks at a Woolworth’s lunch counter. The Mall of America is a lot of things, but it’s not the Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth’s in 1960.

Library of Congress

The threat to the Mall of America is it overplays its hand, and there’s certainly evidence of that happening, too.

WCCO reports that Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson intends to file criminal charges against the 20 people who were arrested, and perhaps seek restitution for the mall’s decision to close stores.

The City Attorney is now building criminal cases against the protest organizers. She said she’ll try to get restitution for money lost by the mall, the city and police agencies that came from as far away as Hastings and Red Wing.

“The main perpetrators are those who continued on their Facebook site to invite people illegally to the Mall of America,” she said.
Police are looking at the group’s social media posts, as well as video from inside the mall.

“Who led that march through the Mall of America?” said Johnson. “If we can identify those people who were inciting others to continue with this illegal activity, we can consider charges against them too.”

Who looks good in all of this, at least from a public relations perspective? Lush looks good.

Employees of the cosmetics retailer showed support for the protesters, earning an online rant from a Mall shopper who clearly was unaware that the retailer is all about social consciousness.

Employees from the Lush cosmetics store showed their support for the protest. Angela Jimenez / For MPR News

Company executives stood behind its employees, repeated its support for justice, and reaped the benefits of grateful customers.

“We surpassed our goal on Sunday by a fair amount and it looks like we will surpass our goal today,” Chase Burns, a store manager, told Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal on Monday. “Someone said they were going to drive a couple hours just to buy all of their Christmas gifts here. It’s been really lovely.”

  • Jack

    I’m guessing that a few of the stores actually made more money since shoppers were locked in and had nothing better to do than more shopping.

    What’s next? Going after the mall walkers who are there just to walk and not shop?

    • David P.

      And if the mall was in lockdown, maybe sales weren’t lost, just postponed.

    • Jerry

      The MOA’s mistake was treating the protesters as adversaries instead of potential customers. I think an Orange Julius would be just the thing after chanting and singing carols. And who could resist a Cinnabon after laying on the ground to protest police killings. All lost profits to the mall by closing the stores. That’s failing at capitalism.

  • Robert Moffitt

    The most important words in your post are “Now what?”
    It’s what I’ve been asking of the BLM and similar organizations since the protests began. You have America’s attention, albeit briefly.
    Now what?

  • Jennifer Tuder
    • kevinfromminneapolis

      MOA security profiled me once. I got to the rotunda at about 4:45 for a 5pm appearance by New Kids on the Block. Unbeknownst to me the show was pushed back to 5:30. I’d come from work so I had my large backpack and being a single guy in my late-20s amongst teenage girls and their moms I sorta stood out as I waited and fidgeted wondering why the band was late. The New Kids eventually did show up and they were great.

      • Jerry

        So what you’re saying is security thought maybe you were Hangin’ a little too Tough, possibly with the wrong stuff in you backpack?

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    “This is not about violence; this is not about bashing cops, or ‘F the police,’ as people tend to yell,”

    Just like believing a strong Second Amendment isn’t about shooting up schools. From experience I can tell the guy that no one’s going to allow him that distinction.

    • Gary F

      You don’t have Second Amendment rights in the MOA. It is a private business that has a no guns allowed policy.

      • kevinfromminneapolis

        Yes, I know. That’s not…oh why bother. But yes it is a private business and it also has a policy against protesting.

  • David W.

    I’m not sure how you can sue peaceful protesters for decisions taken by management to close stores and call in law enforcement officers, but I guess we’ll find out. I don’t doubt that the MoA’s owners put in a word to the City of Bloomington about enforcing the law and that the city would act accordingly, given the economic clout the Mall has.

    • A. Scott

      Do you understand the word trespass? The City has just as big a concern with illegal crowds as the mall. Its a safety issue. Has nothing to do with whether they were peaceful of not … and everything to do with what could occur.

      • David W.

        It seems you’re unclear on the concept of public relations. In a nutshell, it’s about what others think of you, not strictly whether you’re in the right or wrong. Lush by showing sympathy for the protest did well on that score, because sometimes it’s not all about shopping, but about justice for all. The MoA’s management on the other hand decided to cast themselves (and the police and state patrol they brought in) as the heavies anticipating trouble – that they didn’t get. If the City of Bloomington does go for pressing charges, it’ll just make them and the Mall look vindictive rather than understanding and sympathetic. The City of Minneapolis on the other hand hasn’t brought charges against the protesters who marched up I-35W and by not doing so has won a measure of good will from minorities who live in Minneapolis. This, I submit, is a far better result than pursuing a strategy of punishment in hopes that if the beatings continue morale will improve.

  • Jim G

    Now what? Only 10% of black residents in Ferguson, MO vote. I think changing this metric is a significant way to effect change in local communities where blacks feel marginalized and disrespected by law enforcement..

    • Robert Moffitt

      Okay, there is a concrete objective. But I can’t quite see how a protest at the MOA increases voting in Ferguson. Perhaps if instead of going to the MOA, they went to Ferguson, MO, with voter registration drives in black neighborhoods, community centers, barber shops, etc. Completely nonpartisan — just a good old fashioned GOTV campaign. Then see what happens in the next election.

      Or, we could do one right here. How many black voters in the Twin Cities actually make it to the polls last election? Or any voters, for that matter.

      • Jim G

        Right. I would like to know the answer to your last question also. Get out the vote efforts have a sporadic history of success, but if you care about the quality of citizens’ lives, don’t leave the most important tool for change in the tool box.

        • You shouldn’t have to do a thing to get equal protection under the law. Not. a. thing.

          • Jim G

            Agreed. There is a 400 year history where blacks have been given less protection under the law. The difference between what should be, and what is currently happening in the present, is what gives this movement life.

          • Robert Moffitt

            If the movement doesn’t show positive results/progress, it won’t have life for long. As we have seen so many times before.

          • A. Scott

            And it has just destroyed what credibility it had left with the public.

          • Robert Moffitt

            Agreed. But that’s not always the world we live in. If there is injustice, it isn’t going to fix itself.

          • The insinuation is that people who are protesting aren’t really doing anything to fix things. I don’t see how that passes the smell test.

            This particular movement — or the incarnation of the movement — is still in its infancy.

          • Robert Moffitt

            They are doing something, clearly. They have raised public awareness. I’m not questioning their sincerely, or their right to protest, or the value of the cause. I’ve been in a protest or two myself. I’m just asking “what’s the next step?”

          • J-dawg

            And lollipops and gumdrops should rain from the sky. I expect nonstop pointless commotion-making will be similarly effective in bringing that to fruition.

      • A GOTV campaign. You mean like the one in north Minneapolis when the mayor pointed at a black guy?

        • Robert Moffitt

          I would like to see some before and after numbers on voter turnout in the areas they focused on. It would be interesting to see if any difference was made.

          • Nolan Regan Morice

            The areas they(NOC) worked in were the only ones where voter turnout increased over the last midterm election.

          • Robert Moffitt

            Thanks! At last, something in #pointergate worth pointing at!

      • Jerry

        Sadly, voter turnout is never nonpartisan in this country. Which party wins is closely tied to how many people vote, especially among minorities.

        • Robert Moffitt

          Point taken.

  • davehoug

    I am sure the concerns are valid. Think of the uproar from a pic of the mayor pointing at a black guy while they are trying to increase voting. A thousand memories of how whites treat blacks and resentment builds.

    • dejibril

      Thanks for be sensible in your comment davehoug. You are making sense!

  • A. Scott

    What a load of crap Mr. Collins. The Mall of America is a private property. Period.

    It is entirely their right who and what they allow on their property. They and the City of Bloomington made absolutely clear this protest was unauthorized and if it went ahead there would be legal consequences. They even went so far as to provide a highly visible public site at the entrance to MOA to accommodate this protest.

    You have been around more than long enough to understand private property rights. And that if you do not protect them you lose them. I’m sure you are more than old enough to understand the law as well.

    Actions have consequences – that is the only way for a civil society to exist. I believe MOA wants the publicity. It is a perfect PR medium to get the message out loud and clear – we do not allow protests or other unauthorized activities. If you ignore the law, and trample our private property rights you will pay the price. Nothing better than taking a high profile action and use as an example.

    And public sentiment overwhelmingly supports them.

    The Black Lives Matter miscreants wanted the exposure that violating the law at the MOA gave them. The Mall of America went out of their way to accommodate this group – arranging a high profile site at the entrance to the mall – which they refused.

    Now they will pay the price – as they should. You on’t get to break the law just becasue you think your cause is just.

    And while we’re talking about just Mr. Collins – how do you feel about freedom of speech? Black Lives Matter think they should have complete unhindered access whenever and wherever they deem fit.

    Yet they are cleansing their pages of any and all critical comment, regardless of how civil, as fast as they can.

    How do you feel about that?

    #alllivesmatter

    • I’m not sure why you’re arguing about the private property status of Mall of America since that’s not in dispute, at least with me.

      So I’m not really sure what you’re disputing since I never argued otherwise.

      All that said, you don’t LOSE your private property status by letting someone demonstrate on your property. You merely choose what you will and won’t allow. The private property status of the Mall of America was never in question, and still isn’t. Let’s be clear about that.

      Just as 6,000 people who were at the mall to sing out against cancer didn’t imperil the legal status of the mall, neither does 1,000 speaking out against what they perceive as injustice. The mall is what the mall is.

      The Mall of America has every right to choose to handle the protest however they wanted to handle it, and that includes providing the atmosphere for a confrontation that makes news. They made their choice.

      With regard to freedom of speech, I’m for it. That said, as I’ve written in this space many times, the First Amendment is an issue between the government and the people.If it it has nothing to do with the government, it has nothing to do with the First Amendment and public financing doesn’t make an entity the government.

      If some private entity is scrubbing critical comments, it has nothing to do with the First Amendment. Also, I don’t care one way or the other since, as I’ve indicated, there’s no First Amendment issue involved in the overall story. None.

      What I’ve just laid out to you are facts. Facts aren’t crap. Facts are facts.

      • A. Scott

        You clearly do not understand the law. You most certain can lose the right to control the activities on your private property if you allow people to violate those rights.

        And equating a legal CHARITY event who asked for and received permission, with an illegal protest, where the protesters were informed in advance their action was unlawful and would be prosecuted, shows your ignorance or indifference to the facts of the case.

        I’d also note I never used the term 1st Amendment. Words have meanings – please read mine again, and do not place words in my mouth.

        I said simply “freedom of expression” … which the Black Lives Matter people demand, regardless of the legality, regardless of the impact on others.

        I asked how you felt about the Black Lives Matter group demanding they be allowed to freely express their beliefs, while they prohit the same free expression on their page … they demand they be allowed to be hear yet actively cleanse any dissent or critical comment from their own site.

        And you weaseled right around that simple question.

        Its entirely clear you support the Black Lives Matter group, regardless of their lawlessness, regardless of the duplicity of their actions.

        I actually think that’s great – the more people that see these type responses – the greater exposure the duplicity and arrogance of they and their actions receive.

        The public – on the sites where their freedom of expression is not silenced – are overwhelmingly against the actions of this group.

        They are seen as what they are – a group of bullies demanding their own way, regardless of the laws, and regardless of the rights of others they trample.

        And now they are whining, trying to play the victims …. when they undertook this action completely and fully informed of the consequences. They were offered a reasonable accommodation – in their arrogance they decided that was not enough.

        They intentionally and purposely CHOSE to break the law, and now they will find out there are real consequences to their actions. In doing so they have exposed who and what they really are – and managed to turn the public against them.

        • // You most certain can lose the right to control the activities on your private property if you allow people to violate those rights.

          Show me that law, please. Because I’ve got a Minnesota Supreme Court decision here that says — quoting — “Nor does property lose its private character merely because the public is generally invited to use it for designated purposes.”

          I explained down thread — or maybe it was upthread — about the comparison of 7,000 people v. 1,000 so I won’t bother here.

          I generally am in favor of deescalation rather than escalation. I think of Russel Onore, the lt. general of the first Army, who took over the military response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. He de-escalated the situation by walking the streets telling the Guardsmen to put the guns down. They did. And it worked.

          That guy was awesome:

          http://youtu.be/I-YOtwUv4bA?t=1m12s

          Now, look, I’m not stupid. I recognize the divide that this incident has caused , and that people might be perfectly happy to see some heads get beaten. I think that’s poor public policy, for one thing.

          You think this is going to make BLM become irrelevant and go away. I think this is exactly what BLM wanted to get out the event.

          I’m just suggesting that if the MOA doesn’t want a repeat of this, they figure out a way to not to give the groups it doesn’t want around from getting exactly what they want from you.

          As for the whole BLM free speech, deleting comments blah blah blah… as I said before, I just don’t give a damn one way or the other.

          • A. Scott

            Again – the way to make these groups follow the law is to make them pay the price for violating the law. To the fullest extent, including jail time and damages.

            This is a civil society. We have the rule of law. If some can ignore the law at will, and pay no consequence then we are no longer a nation of laws.

        • Dean Lambrecht

          If you’re trying to distinguish between “freedom of expression” and the “1st Amendment,” I wish you the best of luck.

    • Dean Lambrecht

      You seem to be missing the entire point of civil disobedience. Additionally, lacing your argument with hyperbole makes it much less persuasive.

      • A. Scott

        Facts Dean. Not hyperbole.

        • Dean Lambrecht

          Ah. I see how you roll. Someone smarter than both of us once noted that while one is entitled to one’s own opinion, one is not entitled to one’s own facts.

          • A. Scott

            I presented facts from reputable sources. You are free to refute them.

            You chose not to bother and instead responded with rhetoric.

          • Dean Lambrecht

            A list of your hyperbolic words, which undercut your otherwise somewhat valid argument:
            What a load of crap

            the only way for a civil society to exist

            trample our private property rights

            public sentiment overwhelmingly supports

            miscreants

            unhindered access whenever and wherever they deem fit

  • Matt Todd

    This article is full of an absurd amount of false equalancies.

    • I think the word you’re looking for is “equivalencies.”

      But, go on.

      • Matt Todd

        Correct. Typing on the phone doesn’t always work out well. It’s false to equate a political demonstration of a movement with a history of violence In other cities with a charity sing along. The malls policy is to not allow political protests, this is nothing new and it’s not like they changed it specifically for this group.

        It’s also a false equivalency to equate this to the lunch counter sit ins. In that instance they were protesting at the establishments which had discriminated against them against the people who had discriminated against them. The MOA has nothing to do with the cause of police brutality. They are not the police, they are not the entities that create the laws and policies the police Follow. The protest in the manner accomplishes nothing but annoy people already stressed out from Christmas shopping which certianly doesn’t help their cause.

        • Yes, I agree with you. The comparison of the events is only about the logistics . A thousand peaceful protesters aren’t really any greater inconvenience to shoppers (and, let’s face it, most of the shopping isn’t done in the Rotunda at the Mall, it’s done in the wings) than 7,000 people gathered in the same location.

          I don’t know what to say about the assertion that BLM Minnesota has a history of violence. And so I won’t say anything.

          As I wrote, I totally agree with you about the lunch-counter protests and said as much . It doesn’t serve this particular group to make any such comparison OR — as I said — to make the issue the Mall of America itself. THAT’s the point.

          Look, I think it’s clear that the MOA gave BLM exactly what they wanted, as I said. And it’s illogical for MOA or anyone else to reach the conclusion that the way to discourage such events is to continue to give those groups exactly what they wanted.

          So in this case, how might it have gone differently? First, the BLM had worked hard prior to the event (which was publicized by MOA) to be peaceful and, indeed, it was peaceful.

          Is it possible to have talked with the group ahead of time and said, “look, this is against our policy and we’re not bending on that policy, but we’re going to actively object to what you’re doing but we’ll let it burn itself out. When you finish, you walk out. We’ll have police here for obvious reasons, deal?

          Now maybe that is more than naive. OR , maybe it’s the sort of dealmaking on which a country’s entire political structure operates (or did it at one time whent he political structure,you know, sort of worked).

          Otherwise, we’ll continue having these same things over and over again as long as the groups get what they want out them. And stories that should be one-day stories, will turn into 6-day stories in which you cannot win the game.

          Don’t want the protests at your mall. That’s fine. I don’t blame you. So figure out a way to stop it that’s actually going to work.

          I saw some comments in another news site before the event in which people were advocating rubber bullets and batons by the police.

          That’s idiotic thinking. This is not a time for idiocy.

          • Dean Lambrecht

            I do think the Woolworth’s lunch counter analogy insofar as it’s a counter to the charge that protesting on private property is simply never okay. People weren’t using the event to suggest that there was an equivalency, merely to point out that those upset about protests on private property shouldn’t happen. (I have a whole other theory about how we should legally treat MOA’s claim to being a private entity entitled, like other private entities, to discriminate against First Amendment exercise, but it’s not apt here.)

          • My piece isn’t about merit of either side. It’s about strategy of either side. If I were the MOA, and I wanted to minimize the message of BLM, I would totally try to make the issue one of whether BLM can protest at the Mall of America.

            That’s a sideshow, really and focusing on it undercuts BLM’s strategy, as I tried to convey.

          • Matt Todd

            The usage I have seen in comments on many new sites has been along the lines of “protesting on private property worked for the lunch counters, it should be ok now”

          • That’s one of the “overplayed hands” referenced in the title.

            It shifts the issue to an issue of property rights and distracts from one side’s message.

            Strategically, there are pitfalls on both sides.

          • A. Scott

            What part of it was illegal – against the law – and they were fully informed of that in advance, is so hard to understand?

            The MOA and City went out of their way to provide a suitable public high visibility site that would have allowed a legal protest without disrupting shoppers or violating the law. Black Lives Matter thumbed their nose at them – saying they refused, and that they refused to spend the $20 for a permit.

            MOA had zero responsibility to do that. They have zero responsibility to talk with these people whose stated intent was to disrupt and cause discomfort to the malls shoppers and businesses. Yet they did everything they could to make clear their action was illegal AND to provide a LEGAL legitimate alternative.

            Your claim the mall should have met the protesters and tacitly agreed to let them protest is more than silly. Any tacit approval destroys their ability to protect the private property rights they’ve fought hard for. The law is clear, if you do not fight for your policies you set a precedent and lose them.

            It was NOT Peaceful. IT was, by BLM’s stated intent, planned to be, and was, highly disruptive. It was intended to inconvenience customers and cause financial harm to businesses – again the STATED intent of BLM.

            How you or they can claim it was “peaceful” is delusional.

            They now also try to claim it wasn’t their actions that caused the mall and businesses to shut down – it was the mall and police who made that decision. This shows the abject ignorance – that these people do not live in the real world.

            If not for their presence, and the very real potential risk that large group represented, there would have been ZERO need for police presence and zero need to shut down the mall and stores.

            The arrogance and ignorance is truly amazing.

            That you keep looking for excuses – for ways to justify the fact they knowingly and intentionally CHOSE to break the law, with the stated intent to disrupt one of the largest shopping days, and inconvenience and scare customers – is just as amazing.

            They broke the law. They KNEW the were breaking the law. They INTENDED to cause disruption and hardship to customers and businesses. They REFUSED and IGNORED the reasonable accommodation the City and Mall arranged.

            They are guilty as charged. Why they, you, or anyone else thinks they should not be held accountable is – yet again – amazing.

            They CHOSE to violate the law. Now they should PAY for their choice. The vast majority agree.

          • // The law is clear, if you do not fight for your policies you set a precedent and lose them.

            You seem very certain of this point upon which you base much of your reasoning, so I’ll ask again: what law are you citing that makes Supreme Court Justice Ed Stringer’s ruling that “Nor does property lose its private character merely because the public is generally invited to use it for designated purposes” moot?

          • A. Scott

            I answered. Precedent.

          • Yeah, well Justice Stringer took care of that.

          • Matt Todd

            Perhaps I rushed through your article on my lunch break and didn’t read it thoroughly enough as we seem to be mostly on the same page. However as much as I dislike the slippery slope argument and think its over used, I think this is one case where it fits. The mall has a policy of not allowing protests and it seems what you’re proposing would set a bad precedent for them. It seems a lot of people are against the malls actions because they feel in this case the ends justify the means, ie their cause is important enough of an issue that it ought to supersede the malls claim to private property rights. However I would assert that this story would be completely different if it were a group like the westboro baptists or the KKK that showed up for the protest. All the ends justify the means folks would probably be singing a much different tune, but in the eyes of westboro/kkk their protest should be ok since nothing happened to BLM. I would agree that a hard core police action wouldn’t help anyone, but I really don’t know the right answer. But from the malls view point they have to do something so these kinds of protests dont become a regular occurance.

          • That’s not an argument without merit at all.

            My theory is that the Mall becomes an increasing target/venue until having a protest there no longer provides an entity with the rewards offered by having it there currently.

            I freely admit I have no way to test that theory.

          • raflw

            Bob says “I don’t know what to say about the assertion that BLM Minnesota has a history of violence.”

            I’ll make a try: In the era of the internet, I’d suggest that the person making that assertion should provide at least a couple links to news sources (ie: not opinion blogs or twitter) that indicate that BLM-MN has resorted to violence.
            I’m fairly sure there won’t be any, though I’m open to reading such links if they exist.

        • A. Scott

          Exactly – this was a crime of opportunity and convenience. In their arrogance – the belief they are above the law and somehow empowered to break the law, they have exposed themselves for what they are. And turned the public overwhelmingly against them.

          Their narrative – the ridiculous claims “its open season on black” and other such absurdities are not remotely supported by the data. Bust just try to get them to engage and discuss the real facts – the data – and you’ll find them slam the door.

          The facts are we have appx 800,000 law officers in the US. They had over 40 million contacts with the public last year. The FBI Uniform Crime Report data, largely supported by similar CDC data, shows those officer made more than 11 million arrests for violent crime in 2013.

          We know that many of those arrests involve suspects attacking, resisting, fighting with, trying to run over and/or shooting at the police.

          Despite all that, there were a total of just 461 people killed by police. And only 123 of those were black.

          That does not show the systemic violence and targeting of black lives that chief race-baiter Al Sharpton and the Black Lives matter group claims. To the contrary it shows remarkable restraint.

          Black Lives Matter and Sharpton do not seem to care about the majority of black lives lost to violence. Murder is the #1 cause of death for black males. Blacks made up over 51% of the murders in the US in 2013, and 90.1% of those black murder victims were killed by another black.

          A black male faces a 37.7 per 100,000 chance of being murdered. A white male’s chances are a fraction of that – just 3.9 per 100,000.

          Pretty much the entire premise – that police are targeting blacks, and killing them without cause, and in large numbers – is an outright lie, demonstrably proven with data.

          Just as is the falsehood often trotted out by the protesters – that 1 unarmed black dies in the US every 28 hours.

          The basis for that claim was a non-academic, and not-scientific, review by the Malcom X group, that used press reports to allegedly total deaths of unarmed black by police. The review found 313 black deaths related to police, which the author divided by hours in a year to reach the 1 per 28 hour claim.

          Politifact reviewed this claim and found it “FALSE.” It was poorly done and had a strong lack of accuracy. They found many of the deaths were not in any way evidence of improper deaths by police.

          First, the 313 deaths did not distinguish between armed and unarmed. The unarmed deaths by police total just 136 – remarkably similar to the FBI statistics. And there were serious deficiencies even there.

          Politifact found at least 9 of the allegedly “unarmed” police deaths were criminal who were attempting to run the police down in cars. Trayvon Martin was included in this number as well – despite the fact there was zero police involvement in his death. Add a woman who hugged a cop, causing their weapon to fire – that is treated as an unarmed black death by police as well.

          Politifact is no friend to conservative views. That they find this claim false is significant.

          In the end this claim – that 1 unarmed black dies at the hands of police every 28 hours – is just another lie, perpetrated because it supports the cause, regardless of its accuracy.

          Black Lives Matter needs to first, prove its case – that blacks are being targeted and killed in any kind of significant numbers. Yet they refuse to do so, and cut off and cleanse any attempt to get them to engage and respond.

          They want what they want – accuracy and truthfulness, not to mention the law …. be damned.

          • My piece had nothing to do with revisiting the very long debate over equality and justice and the allegations of lack of same.

            It focused soley on the strategies being employed to relay or mute a particular messge on one day at one shopping mall.

          • A. Scott

            And ignored the simple fact. What they did was against the law. They publicly stated their intent to break the law, and followed thru.

            You seem to think they should be excused for that, or that the Mall should have found a way to allow them to break the law. That is not how the law works.

            They did the crime – now it’s time to pay – to do the time. Thy should face jail time and be responsible for the damages for their intentional act.

            THAT is the way you put a stop to this unlawfulness. With very real consequences.

          • // They did the crime – now it’s time to pay – to do the time. Thy should face jail time and be responsible for the damages for their intentional act.

            But that’s now how these things go. This is how it’s going to work. They’ll create martyrs, get national attention, a big defense fund, and sue the city, forcing it to defend itself at some cost. Whether right or wrong, they’ll have no trouble getting national attention and become a cause. The taxpayers will foot the bill. Their messaging gets amplified in ways unimaginable. And nobody goes to jail.

            That’s how these things go.

            It’ll be a great story for the news business.

          • David P.

            Sorry Bob. Your discussion regarding PR strategy fell on ears that hear property rights.
            To all you property rights writers – yes the MoA is private property, the Mn Supreme Court has determined that.
            The conversation Bob offered was regarding the PR strategy of the MoA.
            As a former PR professional, my opinion is the MoA came off as heavy-handed and have alienated a number of clients. They would have been better off if they had worked with BLM and tried to accommodate the protest indoors and minimize the disruption to shoppers – a disruption from my view was largely inflicted by the MoA and the police.

          • A. Scott

            The MOA alienated people with their actions? You clearly have not been reading the comments from the public at a number of sites – where dissenting opinion is allowed. Something Black Lives Matter doesn’t seem to think important.

            I’ve worked high profile PR – for entities, events and people – and I believe the MOA got exactly what they wanted.

            These people insisted on being arrogant and stupid. They ignored the repeated civil notifications from the MOA that their actions were unlawful.

            They arrogantly brushed off the MOA and City’s effort to provide them a legitimate public site – with high visibility – a site where they could lawfully hold their protest without violating the law.

            MOA had zero responsibility to make this effort to accommodate them, but they and the City did so regardless.

            Black Lives Matter in their arrogance gave the mall exactly what they wanted. A high profile opportunity to make very clear the consequences of violating the law at MOA.

            If you think the management and staff at MOA are not the best in the business I think you are sadly mistaken.

          • For the record, the strategies I’m looking at aren’t just MOA. The threat to both sides is overplaying hands.

          • David P.

            Then I understood your point. My point, from a PR perspective, is that I don’t think this is the conversation regarding the MoA that the MoA wanted the weekend before Christmas. As you stated earlier, and with which I agree, if the MoA had played it cool this would have been a 1 hour event with little media coverage and we wouldn’t be having this conversation with hundred’s of posts.

          • That’s right. This is a Saturday night 6pm news b-roll story that was escalated into a full week of coverage of their message.

    • Jeff C.

      For example….?

  • J F Hanson

    Clearly it is time for Bob to retire from journalistic commentary and turn to a new career at which he should excel: Public Relations.

    The mall should pay him $400.00 / hour and a retainer, and a minimum of, say, 80 hours a month.

    His first order of business can be to get rid of those silly ‘no guns allowed’ signs in such a way as to not make the hopolophobes quake nor invite the open-carryers to make them quake.

    I’m counting on you to do What Is Right, Bob.

    • You’re asking me to take a pay cut, hanson?

      • kevinfromminneapolis

        $400/hour for PR would put Bob in the upper echelon of PR practitioners.

        • this is not a time for petty jealousies, Kevin. :*)

  • TJ

    You have a very twisted way of looking at the constitution if you think the mall of America should give up some of their private property rights for the rights of the protesters you give a double standard and say shame on you to people who are defending their own constitutional rights

    • The private property rights of the Mall is irrelevant to the conversation. The mall doesn’t give any rights up under any circumstances. They are fully empowered to make whatever choices they want to make.

      • J-dawg

        That’s why your end of the conversation is so meaningless. The private property rights of the mall are the entire conversation. Even if they are looking at some negative PR (which I’m not really so sure is true when you look at the aggregate effect), it is by far outweighed by NOT losing their right to exclude groups that it deems unwelcome. Your understanding of how the law works, as evidenced from your not terribly relevant citation, is quite lacking here.

        • As I”ve done several times, I invite those of you telling me how much law I don’t know to cite the case law that overwhelms Justice Stringer’s very clear ruling on the matter.

          • J-dawg

            It is a basic tenet of the law that if you sleep on your rights you lose them. I am not being paid or graded so I’m not going on Lexis to educate you. I can tell you that the language you cited was not in any way “clear” on the matter as it was not related to allowing protests and then arbitrarily discriminating amongst them.

          • I’ll take that as “I don’t have a law i can refer you to” along with your instruction on how I can get educated in the law.

            The fact is *I* have the Supreme Court decision sitting right here which says exactly the opposite and the Minnesota Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of these matters.

            I’m not sure where you legal education is from but I can tell you that a Supreme Court decision and its interpretation has nothing to do with whether the circumstances of the case are identical, only if the constitutional question is identical which in this case is how a private property loses its rights. it has nothing to do with the circumstances surrounding how a property is alleged to lose the rights. You don’t, for example, lose your Miranda rights simply becUse you weren’t charged with rape, as Mr. Miranda was.

            And on the constitutional question,the Supreme court has spoken and it is, in fact, the law of the land.

            In short: the assertion that the Mall can passively lose its constitutional rights is irrelevant and incorrect.

          • J-dawg

            Your use of language is quite imprecise for one who makes a living writing. No, I do not have a statute to point you to, as it is a legal maxim. You do seem to understand, at least, that the common law does make up a large body of law as you keep referring to a decision by Jusice Stringer as your sole refutation of this long-standing and well-known principle in the law. I have informed you why your case is not on point in this matter, but you can’t seem to understand or accept it. The decision and language you are citing refer to inviting the public onto your premises for “general purposes.” A political protest is NOT in that category.

          • Wake me when you have something to back up your assertions besides what you think the law is.

            Maybe cite actual case law.

            As it is, the one you came closest to citing, you got incorrect.

          • J-dawg

            Why don’t you cite a case that says my principle doesn’t exist, as you are denying the existence of a bedrock principle of equity and property law? And as I’ve shown, the one case you keep pointing back to is not relevant on any of the issues at hand.

          • Sure, be glad to.

            First I’ll cite the Minnesota law that says your principle doesn’t exist, or at least doesn’t exist in the incorrect way you’ve claimed. It’s Minnesota statute 541.202

            No action for the recovery of real estate or the possession thereof shall be maintained unless it appears that the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s ancestor, predecessor, or grantor was seized or possessed of the premises in question within 15 years before the beginning of the action.

            Such limitations shall not be a bar to an action for the recovery of real estate assessed as tracts or parcels separate from other real estate, unless it appears that the party claiming title by adverse possession or the party’s ancestor, predecessor, or grantor, or all of them together, shall have paid taxes on the real estate in question at least five consecutive years of the time during which the party claims these lands to have been occupied adversely.

            As for case law, you’ll want to read:

            Grubb v. State of MN (Minn. Ct. App. 1988)
            LeGro v. Saterdalen (Minn. Ct. App. 2000).
            Burns v. Plachecki, (Minn. 1974)
            Pederson v. Smith (Minn. Ct. App. 2000);

            Houdek v. Guyse(Minn. Ct. App. 2005).
            Mauer v. Otter Tail Power Company(Minn. Ct. App. 2009).
            Forbes v. Kociscak,(Minn. Ct. App. 2002).

            In Grubb, the Court made it fairly clear:

            We do not agree that the legislature and the Minnesota Supreme Court intended a result as unjust as the trial court correctly characterized that reached in this case. In construing Minn.Stat. § 541.02, *920 we may ascertain legislative intent by considering, among other matters, the object to be obtained. Minn.Stat. § 645.16(4) (1986). We must also keep in mind that the legislature does not intend a result that is absurd or unreasonable. Minn.Stat. § 645.17(1) (1986). Minn.Stat. § 541.02 consists of three unnumbered paragraphs and must be read as a whole. The first paragraph bars recovery of “real estate or possession thereof” unless the party seeking recovery, or predecessor in title, was in possession for the 15 years immediately preceding the commencement of the action. Put another way, the paragraph requires 15 years’ possession by a disseizor as a prerequisite to claiming title by adverse possession.

            The second paragraph of the statute exempts from the 15-year limitation actions seeking recovery of separately assessed tracts or parcels unless the disseizor, or predecessor in possession, has paid the real estate taxes on the disputed land for five consecutive years of the period of the disseizor’s adverse possession. Put another way, the paragraph requires a disseizor to have paid the real estate taxes for five consecutive years of the disseizor’s 15 years of adverse possession as a prerequisite to claiming title by adverse possession.

            The third paragraph of the statute creates three exceptions to the tax-payment requirement of the second paragraph: (1) actions relating to boundary lines established by adverse possession, (2) actions concerning the land between a government or platted line and the line established by adverse possession, and (3) lands not assessed for taxation. Nowhere in the third paragraph is there a reference to land not assessed as a tract or parcel separate from other real estate. The paragraph includes only boundary-line matters and land which has not been assessed at all. Since the trial court correctly found and concluded that this action was not one involving boundary lines, and since the disputed land here was assessed for taxation, none of the exceptions to the tax-payment requirements of the third paragraph apply here.

            In Mauer, the court said (emphasis mine):

            If a party uses another‟s property with permission, adverse possession does not arise; but if a property owner acquiesces in the use of the property without assertingownership, a claim of adverse possession is supported.

            That is to say, the mall maintains ownership of its property if it lets a group use it merely by affirming that it continues to own the property. That’s pretty simple.

            So I think we’re on pretty clear legal ground here to state finally that the Mall of America was in absolutely no danger of losing its rights of ownership of the Rotunda last Saturday. There are obviously compelling reasons the mall has to make the decisions it made, but losing the right to its own property clearly wasn’t one of them.

            That’s probably why the only claim that it’s an issue comes not from the mall or any other attorney, but from Internet commenters.

          • J-dawg

            Also, the MN Supreme Court is not the “ultimate arbiter” of such things. The U.S. Supreme Court passes on federal questions, including those on the federal constitution, which takes precedence over any state law or constitutional provision that may be in conflict with it.

            Regardless, as I have stated multiple times, it is a basic equitable principle in the law that if you do not choose to enforce your rights within a reasonable period of time, a court is free to dismiss your claims if you try to assert them once others have relied upon your choice. You can literally lose your property if you let someone else use it long enough, it’s called the law of adverse possession.

          • Not exactly. The U.S. Supreme Court will certainly, as you point out, take up a state issue if there’s a question regarding the U.S. Constitution.

            The Minnesota Supreme Court handles questions including those under the Minnesota Constitution. Minnesota cannot remove rights under its constitution that are guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. But the U.S. Supreme Court cannot remove rights that are guaranteed under the Minnesota Constitution.

            Regarding the law of adverse possession, yes, I kind of figured that’s what you were hanging your hat on. What you don’t point out and may not know, however, is that in Minnesota, “open, hostile, continuous, and exclusive possession of the land in question for at least 15 years.”

            That is to say, BLM would have to sit in that Rotunda for 15 years just to meet one of the requirements.

          • J-dawg

            If they are in conflict with those of the U.S. Constitution they can. Or a treaty of the United States.

          • That’s absolutely not true. The U.S. Constitution sets a MINIMUM set of rights for all people in all states, but it doesn’t at all prevent any state from enacting ADDITIONAL protections for its citizens.

  • J-dawg

    When you are already at maximum exposure, making a nuisance of yourself isn’t “getting the word out,” it’s simply making enemies of your lukewarm supporters. Also Lush may look good to a bunch of outrage-of-the-moment kiddies, but they’ll forget about it by the time they run out of soap. And their product certainly isn’t good enough to keep customers coming back.

  • Gayle

    For those of us old enough to remember, two of the most important changes in America in the past 50 years were brought about by protests to end the war in Vietnam and protests for human rights. Protests too were illegal – whether blocking traffic, burning draft cards, shutting down a university, staging a sit-in or a wildcat strike. Early public opinion was strongly against the protesters – they were seen as trouble-makers that needed to be punished. Yet the protests that are remembered in history are remembered for violence brought on by the authorities – water cannons and police dogs in Birmingham, Chicago police rioting on war protesters at the Democratic convention, the National Guard opening fire on students at Kent State. The violence of these events only served to strengthen the position of the protestors and turn the tide of public opinion in their favor.
    Yes, the protest at the MoA was illegal (civil disobedience is, by its very definition). The question here is not about the legality of the protest, or what sort of punishment should be meted out. That’s on a different post. The question is regarding the PR for both sides of the issue.
    Unless the MoA and the City of Bloomington want to be seen as hanging out a “Blacks are Not Welcome” sign and waste a lot of money in the courts, they should take a deep breath and be very happy that none of the security personnel didn’t overplay their authority or power and escalate this into something that made the BBC News or require President Obama to answer some pointed questions.
    Leaders on both “sides” should put their collective ego’s aside, and take a look at this from a wider perspective. Leverage this event as a launch pad for serious discussions with the primary parties – discussions not to persuade, but to understand. As long as this issue is as viewed as having “sides”, then those engaged are adversaries with winners and losers. That means both “sides” lose. This isn’t a black problem or a police problem. This is an American problem. We either solve it together or we will suffer the consequences, together.

    • kevins

      These recent protests are nothing compared to what happened in ’68 through ’73 or so…I remember. Charging the organizers of the MOA protest is fruitless and spiteful.

  • davehoug

    My local grocery store lets Salvation Army bell ringers and Girl Scout cookie sales on the sidewalk outside the store. IF they let them inside the store, a precedent would be set where they would be up against a lawyer whenever they said no to other groups.
    It is just easier to always say no, regardless of the goodness of a group, than to battle lawyers when it comes to claims of discrimination.

    The megamall thus says “get our permission via a permit” to hold a carol sing or a fashion show or a Black Lives Matter rally. The alternative is letting anybody anytime rally for anything without a permit.
    Had the stated intention been for 100 (not as many as possible) folks to be NOT disruptive to shoppers and the group was not about violence; they most likely would have gotten a permit.

    • I don’t doubt that people SAY what they think the law is. And I don’t doubt they act upon what they think the law is. I doubt the existence of a law that strips private property right on the basis of granted access to the public.

      Letting the Girl Scouts in while not letting the Boy Scouts in does not violate any law because the business is not witholding service. So , in the case of Minnesota, the state’s human rights law wouldn’t apply.

      I know people scream, “oh the lawyers” in these sorts of discussions, but more often that not, it’s a dodge to avoid an intellectually honest transaction.

      The other aspect of this, which isn’t getting attention, is the intention of the county attorney to file charges against someone on the basis of what they wrote on Facebook. Not on what they might have done at the scene of the crime, but on what they might have written.

      In a debate about the slippery slope of letting the group do its things, it’s odd that nobody seems to have a problem with that.

      • davehoug

        You may actually be correct a company is OK saying “because I like them and I don’t like you” to groups wanting to use their private property…….Now how much would it cost to win a lawsuit???

        Also companies just want to get out of endorsing any side of a dispute.

        Going the permit route allows a store to say yes to 100 quiet and no to thousands of yelling folks. But their stated intention WAS to be disruptive.

        • I’ve seen that referenced. But where is that?

  • Housekeeping alert: I don’t feel like spending the holiday moderating the discussion, so I’ll close coments today at 3pm and reopen them Friday morning.