Judge blocks 3 Black Lives Matter leaders from Minnesota mall protest

by Reuters
Tuesday, 22 December 2015 23:38 GMT

MINNEAPOLIS, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Three leaders of a loosely organized Black Lives Matter group have been barred from a protest planned for Wednesday at the Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis, a judge ruled.

The order, which does not extend to the group itself or to unnamed people, "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," Hennepin County Judge Karen Janisch wrote.

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis has said the protest over the fatal shooting of a black man by a Minneapolis police officer in November would go forward regardless of the judge's ruling.

The mall sought a restraining order after the group said last week it planned a return protest at the mall, where about 1,500 people protested last December over the deaths of black men in police-involved incidents in New York and Missouri. About two dozen people were arrested in that protest.

Last year's protest was the last Saturday before Christmas and Wednesday's is set for the last full shopping day before the holiday.

The privately held retail center, one of North America's largest shopping malls, had asked Janisch to prohibit the group, its alleged leaders and others from protesting and require it to delete social media posts advertising the demonstration.

Named defendants Miski Noor, Kandace Montgomery and Michael McDowell were barred from demonstrations, but the group could not be forced to remove social media posts promoting the protest or to add notices saying the protest was canceled, Janisch said.

In a hearing on Monday, attorney Susan Gaertner told Janisch the mall sought the court order because of the group's choice of forum, not the content of its message. Attorney Jordan Kushner, who represented the named defendants, said the mall could remove demonstrators but could not tell them what they may say.

Privately owned shopping malls, "even those as large, complex, and as heavily trafficked and visited as the MOA," may prohibit demonstrations, Janisch said.

Demonstrators camped outside a Minneapolis police station for nearly three weeks after a police officer shot Jamar Clark, 24, on Nov. 15. The shooting of Clark, who died the next day, added fuel to a heated debate in the United States over police use of lethal force, especially against black people. (Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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