Is it OK to disrupt commerce for a social cause?

Saturday’s demonstration at the Mall of America by Black Lives Matter disrupted holiday shopping on the Saturday before Christmas. A few weeks ago, a demonstration promoting the same cause shut down northbound traffic on Interstate Hwy. 35W in Minneapolis. Police made no arrests during the I-35W closure, and said they had arrested 25 people Saturday at the mall. Today’s Question: Is it OK to disrupt commerce for a social cause?

  • Pearly


    • Craig

      It’s not ok to block roads etc with no regard. What about the person who miss’d a flight, to visit her dying grandmother, you better get out of my way in that case……

  • PaulJ

    It is an okay (effective) way to draw attention, but disrupting bystanders is not passive resistance and seems to be too self-aggrandizing to make spending time in jail noble.

  • KTN

    Sure, why not, oh wait did you say disrupt shopping – good God no, how can anyone even think of putting something in front of all that is holy with shopping. I am brought to tears thinking that somebody was put out and had to hold their money for even seconds longer than they anticipated – especially at the Shrine, have they no decency.

  • Guest

    Given a choice between submitting to the abuse of power we suffer at the hands of the rich and powerful, the police, and the Archdiocesan system in the United States, knowing that if we do nothing, and say nothing, the rich and powerful WILL create an Auschwitzian labor and death camp system for the poor, the minorities, the women, the non-Republicans…

    …or protest, knowing that at worst, we’re going to be raped, tortured, and murdered anyway…

    …I say we should disrupt commerce as often as possible.

    • Gary F

      Wow, really?

    • Lithium Might Work

      You either need to travel more to other countries or change your meds – probably both.

    • jim

      poor baby.

    • Elsa1965

      get some better medication

  • Ollulia

    The uproar over this protest says a lot about our culture right now – something very disturbing. I am sad and disappointed that people were so upset, over a protest to bring awareness to the racial inequality that is still so prevalent in the US, because it interrupted their holiday shopping. Actually I’m more disgusted. Perhaps if the MOA and vendors had planned a unified embrace of what the protest represented, they may have benefited from it monetarily. Imagine this headline instead – “MOA and vendors/shopkeepers offer cocoa and cookies to protesters – merchants came together to show their support of people who took time from the rush of holiday consumerism to champion the rights of all citizens. People of all nationalities, races, religions, ages, etc. made time to join together, in the mad rush of the holidays, to say STOP the inhumanity – and the largest mall in the U.S. proved itself a worthy supporter.” The mall could have stayed open a little longer, shoppers would have been more accepting of the protest – maybe even have joined it, and then everyone could have continuing on their merry shopping ways. A very different news story indeed…

    • yosh

      Perhaps the MOA owners and merchants should plan a unified embrace of a demonstration to support building the Keystone pipeline, or maybe a national amendment to ban gay marriage. Or are you implying that private companies only embrace causes you support? It’s better that companies stay out of the fray.

  • Jim G

    Yes. If protests are held in an out-of-the-way location where they have absolutely no impact on commerce they’ll be ineffective in calling attention to their cause. No one would even know there was a protest or the inequity the protesters are bringing to the public’s attention. Demonstrations are held in high density locations to attract attention. That’s why it’s incumbent on our economic and political systems to be as open, fair, and equitable as possible. When there is no need for citizens take to the streets and commerce centers… everyone wins.

  • Rattosh51


  • David P.

    Do you mean something like shutting down St Paul for the GOP? Or closing major roadways for a VIP entourage?

  • Sue de Nim

    Regardless of whether it’s okay, it’s probably a lot less effective than other means of promoting a cause, because it’s likely to build resentment. It’s hard to persuade people to see things your way when you’ve ticked them off unnecessarily. I agree that our attachment to commerce in this country too often crosses the line into idolatry, but messing with people who are just minding their own business trying to make a living is not a good way to open their minds to deeper truths. I abhor the Mall of America, but it has nothing to do with what those protesters were protesting.

    • Elsa1965


  • davehoug

    It depends

    • Yanotha Twangai

      On what?

      • davehoug

        On what the individual feels is more important. Each of us have a threshold that says this is worth causing disruption to innocent shoppers and this is not.

        Also this is worth both the good press of attention to my cause and worth the bad press for being selfish in picking a place that had no connection to my cause, but it was warm and safe and easy to be noticed.

  • Mark in Ohio

    I would say no unless the facility or location is directly involved with the issue being protested. It made sense to protest at the stadium over the football team name issue. Why didn’t they protest at the Mall of America for that issue as well? In this case, I feel that they are just seeking the most press and publicity using the cheapest and easiest methods available.

    I’m getting really tired of everyone’s favorite cause being so “correct and important” that any means necessary are justified. That mentality is what keeps conflicts going in the middle east and other regions. I’m all for people being allowed to protest, but your right to free speech stops at disrupting others, especially when it comes to blocking highways. Given the number of large snowplows available, I wish that the administration had used one to clear the obstruction from the highway. A couple of snowplow trucks with blade and wing down, doing 40 or so down I-35 would have cleared the blockage quickly and served to discourage this behavior in the future.

    • Sue de Nim

      I was with you, right up until you suggested clearing out protesters with a snow plow.

      • Mark in Ohio

        I’ll admit to being a bit extreme in suggesting that they clear the protesters with snowplows, but I’m not always very patient. I even agree with them to an extent, but I’ll admit that what they did was wrong. What I really want is equal consideration. Those people can protest or otherwise do whatever they want with their free time, so long as I’m free to do the same. They can protest all they want, just don’t block me from minding my own business. I don’t have a lot of free time, and I have responsibilities that I have to fulfill.

        • jim

          it was pretty cold that day. a water cannon or fire hose would have sent them packing.

        • Elsa1965

          I protest puppy mills. So I can get 500 people and dogs and lay down on the highway and it would be okay? cool

    • davehoug

      “methinks thou doth protest too much” 🙂

  • Rich in Duluth

    Yes. The whole idea of going to the “town square” to protest or exercise your right to free speech is to go where the people are. These days, people are at The Mall or at Walmart or Target.

  • FedUp-GoodGuysWearBlue

    Look it’s all well and good to protest, but don’t get in the way of someone trying to do business, block a parent from picking up their kid (do you want to pay the exorbitant late fees for them?), or in the case of MO, burn and destroy things. You are NOT winning when you do those things. Yes, there needs to be systemic change. I just think that picking on the police in these instance when there is proof that in both these cases the officer felt in jeopardy is not making headway. (for one example – have you seen the videos of the assault of the elderly person and the theft, this was not a good guy, or since the police have been thrown under the bus by the American public the deaths of two innocent officers in NY?) Yes, our country needs to change AS A WHOLE, but you are barking up the wrong tree in picking on the law enforcement that needs to put their life on the line every day to do what you won’t. Stop enabling the bully and thug life mentality by making these criminals into martyrs. They are not martyrs, they are criminals. THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH AMERICA!

  • Yanotha Twangai

    The idea that you’re going to get your point across by being disruptive, like a kid throwing a temper tantrum, lacks imagination. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

    Imagine how much different the reaction and the news coverage would have been if the protest had gone down like this: A bunch of people go to the MoA about the same time, all wearing T-shirts or buttons or hoodies that say, “Black lives matter.” They quietly go shopping in the stores. Everyone buys at least one small item, and every store in the mall is patronized. When the cashiers thank these customers for their purchase, they reply, “And thank you for your attention to this important issue,” handing the cashier a flier with some key bullet points that they want to get across. Then they peacefully offer the fliers to all of the mall visitors they see. The only people antagonized are those who are already prejudiced against the cause, who are not persuadable anyway; everyone else is impressed by how nice and polite the protesters are and thus are open to what the protesters have to say. Best possible outcome for the protesters: some bigot with his undies in a bunch about the issue gets in-your-face with the protesters, raises his voice, and gets physical, whereupon the protesters get perceived as victims and gain even more public sympathy. Too bad no one in the movement had enough imagination to think of something like that. MLK would have.

    • Elsa1965

      applauding your idea sir

  • AndyBriebart

    So you can exercise your First Amendment right on someone else’s property but not your Second Amendment right?

    • Pearly

      Great point

  • Sue de Nim

    It’s interesting that several of these pages’ usual right-wing posters up-voted my earlier post. Do you folks realize how often you unnecessarily tick off those on the other side with your dismissive, derisive, insulting rhetoric? Left-wingers do that too, but none of them up-voted my post. At least they’re not being hypocritical on that point.

    • Gary F

      And you don’t think that us right wingers get ticked off by the insulting rhetoric from Marxist Utopian feel good comments too? Think we don’t get ticked off that whenever liberals arguments are weak they start playing the race card?

      This is a forum for ideas. I’m not sure if your definition of diversity involves anything out of the liberal world.

      Enjoy the diversity of opinions, I do.

      • Yanotha Twangai

        Do you actually read comments before you react to them? She said, “Left-wingers do that too…”

      • Elsa1965

        left/ Everyone is missing the point and just bitching at each other. Changes nothing

    • whitedoggie44

      free speech is still guanteed under our constitution. I could not care less if I offend the looney left. In fact, the more I irritate them with facts that represent the truth, the better my day. Speak the truth and you have my support. Merry christmas.

      • Yanotha Twangai

        Then you have no business complaining when folks on the left irritate you. You might, however, learn something from this experience of yours. If their irritating rhetoric turns you off from considering what they have to say, why do you think yours will have any different effect on them?

        • whitedoggie44

          The looney left don’t irritate me, they just reinforce my opinion of their ignorance, at least related to economics. I deal in facts and statistics and will support what works and denigrate what doesn’t. Cheers to the 1%

  • Pearly

    I have a feeling those who support disruption of commerce, don’t produce much on any given day.

  • Khatti

    The more important question is whether or not disrupting commerce is counterproductive. Screwing with peoples’ ability to make a living usually does not engender them to you.