Professors Join Fray Over Mall Protest Prosecutions- Bloomington Responds


University professors and researchers are joining the call for City of Bloomington prosecutor Sandra Johnson to drop charges against organizers of a “black lives matter” protest at the Mall of America in December. The protest was in response to highly publicized police violence against blacks in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City as well as some cases in Minnesota.

117 university professors and researchers based mostly in the Twin Cities metro, but some from greater Minnesota signed an open letter calling the plan to charge the organizers “political persecution.”

“We are deeply disappointed in the City of Bloomington’s decision to use its considerable power to actually add to the obstacles that are blocking the movement toward a better, more peaceful, and more just society. We urge the City of Bloomington to drop all charges against those who participated in the recent peaceful protest at the Mall of America.” (Full text of the letter is below)

The letter comes a day after more than 100 faith leaders signed a similar open letter.

Eleven people will appear in court on March 10th for their arraignment on charges ranging from trespassing to disorderly conduct for their attendance at the peaceful demonstration which included nearly 3,000 individuals on December 20, 2014 at the Mall of America.

Bloomington City Attorney Johnson issued her own open letter on Tuesday responding to the faith leaders. In it she said “the criminal justice system must look at the conduct not the content of the messages behind the illegal conduct. To approach protest or demonstration cases any other way would result in viewpoint discrimination based upon the popularity of the message with the prosecutor and with the community. Think about the context of the 1960s in the deep south of this country. If the standard was that- when the content of the message was socially popular the otherwise applicable laws did not apply – many social injustice would have been perpetuated. Justice must focus on the law- as it is written;and the conduct- as it can be proven.”

Full text of Bloomington City Attorney’s Letter & Open Letter From University Professors And Researchers


Bloomington City Attorney LetterSandra Johnson

Link to Bloomington City Attorney Letter (PDF)


The open letter that was sent to Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson from the group of researchers and college professors:

The recent activities and aspirations of the Black Lives Matter movement have shown the country and the world how we can truly honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his non-violent work toward a just and equitable society. As educators and researchers, we understand the hard work that is currently needed to overcome the many challenges and obstacles that prevent every community and every person from being treated with dignity and respect, from having racial justice, and from living in safe and peaceful conditions. We the undersigned therefore strongly support the aims and actions of the Black Lives Matter movement. We support their courageous work toward a world where all people live securely, with freedom and justice.

At the same time, those who are privileged enough to have resources and power in our society should put them to use to move our country in the direction of achieving the goals that Dr. King and countless other activists have struggled towards. This is the work that the Black Lives Matter movement carries on today. It is for this reason that we are deeply disappointed in the City of Bloomington’s decision to use its considerable power to actually add to the obstacles that are blocking the movement toward a better, more peaceful, and more just society. We urge the City of Bloomington to drop all charges against those who participated in the recent peaceful protest at the Mall of America.

We stand united with University of St. Thomas Law Professor Nekima Levy Pounds, one of the protesters charged by the City of Bloomington, when she writes in the Star Tribune (1/16/15):

“#BlackLivesMpls organized a nonviolent, peaceful demonstration at the Mall of America (MOA) in Bloomington, one of the most visible locations in the country. On December 20, 2014, 3,000 people from all walks of life descended upon MOA to sing, chant, and to remind the world that #BlackLivesMatter. Rather than welcome the demonstrators into MOA, we were met by police in riot gear. In spite of the demonstration being peaceful, roughly two dozen people were arrested, stores were shut down by mall security and police, and exits were sealed. What started as a demonstration of Dr. King’s vision of the ‘beloved community,’ became a reminder of what Dr. King warned could destroy our nation: The triple giants of racism, militarism, and extreme materialism. All three of those giants were present that day at MOA and they set out to crush the spirits of ‘the little guy.’”

And we fully agree with Prof. Levy-Pound’s conclusion about the City of Bloomington’s charges:

“This amounts to political persecution and is a gross misuse of prosecutorial discretion and a waste of taxpayer dollars. Thankfully, these intimidation tactics will not be effective in shutting down our movement. Our voices will only grow stronger in the process.”

We urge each and every person who supports the goal of creating a peaceful and just society to raise their voice in support of the protesters.

All institutional affiliations below are provided solely for identification purposes and do not imply institutional support or endorsement.
1. Morgan Adamson, Macalester College
2. Tanisha Andrews, University of St. Thomas
3. Cara Anthony, University of St. Thomas
4. Peter Balaam, Carleton College
5. Katharine Bjork, Hamline University
6. Kristin Bloomer, Carleton College
7. Bruce Braun, University of Minnesota
8. Kathleen M. “Kate” Boyle, University of St. Thomas
9. Rose Brewer, University of Minnesota
10. Arnab Chakladar, Carleton College
11. Anita Chikkatur, Carleton College
12. Kanishka Chowdhury, University of St. Thomas
13. Anna Clark, University of Minnesota
14. Stephanie Cox, Carleton College
15. Lars Christiansen, Augsburg College
16. Sarah Park Dahlen, St. Catherine University
17. Eric Daigre, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
18. Erik W. Davis, Macalester College
19. Veena Deo, Hamline University
20. Jigna Desai, University of Minnesota
21. Bob Dobrow, Carleton College
22. Kelly Donahue, University of St. Thomas
23. Paul Dosh, Macalester College
24. Mary Dunnewold, Carleton College
25. Verne A. Dusenbery, Hamline University
26. Louise Edwards-Simpson, St. Catherine University
27. Adriana Estill, Carleton College
28. Kandace Creel Falcón, Minnesota State University Moorhead
29. David Faust, University of Minnesota
30. Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg, Carleton College
31. Trish Ferrett, Carleton College
32. Amy Finnegan, University of St. Thomas
33. Cynthia J. Fraction, University of St. Thomas
34. Bryana H. French, University of St. Thomas
35. Shelley Neilsen Gatti, University of St. Thomas
36. Kathryn Geurts, Hamline University
37. Michael Goldman, University of Minnesota
38. Ruthann Godollei, Macalester College
39. Teresa Gowan, University of Minnesota
40. Mari Ann Graham, University of St. Thomas
41. Catherine Guisan, University of Minnesota,
42. Arjun Guneratne, Macalester College
43. Laura Anne Haave, Carleton College
44. K.C. Harrison, University of Minnesota
45. John Holst, University of St. Thomas
46. Sharon M. Howell, University of St. Thomas
47. Colette A. Hyman, Winona State University
48. Annette Igra, Carleton College
49. Allen Isaacman, University of Minnesota
50. Leola Johnson, Macalester College
51. Helena Kaufman, Carleton College
52. Raymond Nkwain Kindva, University of St. Thomas
53. Anne Klejment, University of St. Thomas
54. Mike Klein, University of St. Thomas
55. Mary Jo Klinker, Winona State University
56. Kelly Rae Kraemer, College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University
57. Brendan LaRocque, Carleton College
58. David Todd Lawrence, University of St. Thomas
59. Jessica Leiman, Carleton College
60. Rebecca Lowen, Metropolitan State University
61. Thane Maxwell, Metropolitan State University
62. Jason McGrath, University of Minnesota
63. Ea McMillan Porter, University of St. Thomas
64. Tessa Mortenson , Hamline University
65. Susan Myers, University of St. Thomas
66. Richa Nagar, University of Minnesota
67. Beverly Nagel, Carleton College
68. Kim Park Nelson, Minnesota State University at Moorhead
69. Annette Nierobisz, Carleton College
70. August H. Nimtz, University of Minnesota
71. William North, Carleton College
72. Constanza Ocampo-Raeder, Carleton College
73. Tom O’Connell, Metropolitan State University
74. Jeff Ondich, Carleton College
75. Susannah Ottaway, Carleton College
76. Lon Otto, University of St. Thomas
77. Ernest L. Owens, Jr. , University of St. Thomas
78. Arjendu Pattanayak, Carleton College
79. Lori Pearson, Carleton College
80. Yansi Y. Pérez, Carleton College
81. Stephen Philion, St. Cloud State University
82. Lucia Pawlowski, University of St. Thomas
83. Paula Rabinowitz, University of Minnesota
84. Peter Rachleff, Macalester College
85. Gloria Goodwin Raheja, University of Minnesota
86. Matthew Rand, Carleton College
87. Doug Rossinow, Metropolitan State University
88. Salvatore Salerno, Metropolitan State University
89. Lucy Saliger, University of St. Thomas
90. Noah Salomon, Carleton College
91. Janine L. Sanders Jones, University of St. Thomas
92. Gerald W. Schlabach, University of St. Thomas
93. Meera Sehgal, Carleton College
94. Margie Siegel, University of St. Thomas
95. J. B. Shank, University of Minnesota
96. Shana Sippy, Carleton College
97. Ajay Skaria, University of Minnesota
98. Sarah Schmalenberger, University of St. Thomas
99. Linda Sloan, University of St. Thomas
100. Buffy Smith, University of St. Thomas
101. Marguerite L. Spencer, University of St Thomas
102. Clay Steinman, Macalester College
103. Martha Stortz, Augsburg College
104. James Brewer Stewart, Macalester College
105. Nancy Victorin-Vangerud, Hamline University
106. Kimberly Vrudny, University of St Thomas
107. Sheneeta W. White, University of St Thomas
108. Craig Upright, Winona State University
109. Elizabeth Wehner, University of St. Thomas
110. Virgil Wiebe, University of St. Thomas
111. Elizabeth Wilkinson, University of St. Thomas
112. Daniel Williams, Carleton College
113. Harry Williams, Carleton College
114. Thabiti Willis, Carleton College
115. Anne Winkler-Morey, Metro State University
116. Jennifer L. Wright, University of St. Thomas
117. Cathy Yandell, Carleton College