Rage, Hope, Love Fueling Black Lives Matter Movement


“The problem is poverty. The problem is racism,” said Rev. Victoria Safford of the White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church. “The problem is deep, deep, old oppression.”

Safford was one of more than 200 people who showed up outside an Edina, Minnesota court to support eleven people who have been charged with a variety of crimes after a December Black Lives Matter rally at the Mall of America. The problems of poverty, racism and oppression are at the root of what the Black Lives Matter movement is fighting against. What will it to take to fix it? Continue Reading

Mall of America v Black Lives Matter: The Difference Between Civil Rights and Free Speech Laws

The Mall of America (MOA) is private property.  So are the other shopping malls in Minnesota.  One may not agree with that legal fact but that is the law in this state.  This means that owners of shopping malls have a right to deny the public access to their property for the purposes of exercising free speech rights but that does not mean they can deny them access on the basis of race.  This distinction seems to be lost in the dispute regarding the trespass prosecution in the “Black Lives Matter” case. Continue Reading

Bloomington’s ‘Special Presentation’ on Black History involved no Blacks

An all-White crowd heard about slavery and the Underground Railroad from an admittedly uninformed White presenterOn Sunday, February 22, in honor of Black History Month, the Bloomington Historical Society and the Human Rights Commission of Bloomington, Minnesota invited the public to a free “Special Presentation” on the use of quilts by slaves seeking their freedom via the Underground Railroad. Deb Meyer, from Henderson, MN was hired by the Bloomington Historical Society to present and unravel the mystery behind quilts and the coded patterns sewn on them to guide slaves along the Underground RailroadThe room in Bloomington’s Old Town Hall, 10200 Penn. Ave. S., was filled to capacity with just over 100 people, 90 percent of them women. Besides the MSR writer covering the event, there was only one other African American present. Continue Reading

Lao Science Fiction On the Rise

Lao science fiction is making its mark! This weekend in Bloomington, award-winning Lao American playwright and poet Saymoukda Vongsay will be one of the guests of honor at the MarsCon convention, presenting “Kung Fu Zombies vs. Shaman Warrior.”In her presentation, she will discuss the often taboo subject of mental illness. She notes that for many communities it is often explained as demonic possession. Beliefs like this stem from centuries of folklore about demons, ghosts, monsters, and witch doctors. Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

City Of Bloomington? 100+ Faith Leaders Want A Word With You

The City of Bloomington’s insistence on prosecuting organizers of a “Black Lives Matter” protest at the Mall of America is getting more pushback from Minnesota’s religious leaders.A letter signed by more than 100 faith leaders asks City Attorney Sandra Johnson to have a community-wide dialog about race instead of prosecuting people.“The energy you have put into this aggressive prosecution needs to be redirected to a community-wide effort toward open dialogue between our justice system and those who do not receive equal and fair treatment and protection from our current system,” says the letter. “We would like to meet with you at your earliest convenience to discuss these matters.”Eleven people are charged with crimes 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. The protest was part of a larger nationwide demonstration reacting to police violence against African-Americans.This is the second letter faith leaders have sent to the city. The previous letter was signed by 41 clergy and also asked for the city to stop its prosecutions and invited the city to charge them too. Full text of the letterBlack Lives Matter Minneapolis Faith Leaders Letter of SupportDear Sandra Johnson,We, the undersigned, members of the clergy in the city of Bloomington, write to express our support of the Black Lives Matter movement. As a matter of background, on January 20, 2015, individuals working with the Black Lives Matter Minneapolis group were invited to present to the Bloomington Conference of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Minneapolis Area Synod at our monthly gathering, at which some of the undersigned were present. A representative from the synod office was also in attendance.We did not know what to expect when we invited this group to meet with us. Continue Reading

Mall of America, where civil liberties go to buy

[See original post here: http://www.bluestemprairie.com/bluestemprairie/2015/02/mall-of-america-where-civil-liberties-go-to-buy.html]Bluestem’s editor has been to the Mall of America three times in her life: once to shop in the mid-1990s, once to stop by a bookstore where a friend of a friend worked, and a final time to meet a former student for lunch as he was on his way to Hazelton.Thus, we can’t honestly say we’re boycotting a place we don’t patronize to begin with. Had we enough money for reckless consumer spending, we’d indulge our tastes locally, with purchases of pasture-raised pork or beef raised by family farmers and prints by prairie photographers.Two stories underscore the liberty-loving nature of our shopping preferences, both centered on MOA. First, the complaints brought up against people involved in the pre-Christmas Black Lives Matter protests. Just three days ago, Minnesota Public Radio’s Emily Kaiser looked at that issue in Black Lives Matter: The legal issues behind MOA protest:Black Lives Matter and local civil rights groups have denounced the charges, suggesting their participants are being unfairly singled out. The city attorney is also seeking restitution for the cost of policing the event.”I think the charges and the nature and number of charges being brought are disturbing,” said Bruce Nestor, attorney and member of the Black Lives Matter legal team on MPR News. Continue Reading

Please Disturb Us

Shortly before Christmas, organizers of a group protesting the treatment of black men scheduled a demonstration at the local monument to consumption: The Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. The Mall is private property and authorities said no to the request to demonstrate inside. Demonstrators said they would demonstrate there anyway to bring attention to their cause.Authorities tried to use the threat of force and mass arrests to deter the demonstrators. Sandra Johnson, Bloomington city attorney, threatened charges of disorderly conduct, trespassing and even inciting a riot for orchestrating a peaceful demonstration meaningful to everyone. That made matters worse.Between 2,000 and 3,000 people gathered in the mall’s rotunda and sang songs and chanted slogans. Continue Reading

BEHIND THE STORY | Public dollars, private land and freedom of speech

Two years ago, I attended one of the most amazing acts of public expression I think I’ve ever experienced. It was at the Mall of America- a Round Dance held in the rotunda where I witnessed over a thousand people, mostly Native American, sing and dance in a circle as drums played. Not a protest, exactly, it was really more of a healing prayer and a call to action, precipitated by the Idle No More Movement, which got started in Canada over tribal sovereignty issues.Related article: Thousands protest at Mall of America, spark mall shut-down; 12 arrestedI’m not exactly why the 2012 roundy was allowed to occur by MOA security without a hitch when in the following year, a similar action was nipped in the bud. Last year, I reported for The Uptake how Idle No More organizers received letters not to attend a planned action, and were arrested upon arrival. The protest did not take place.It’s possible the 2012 round dance was given prior permission while the 2013 one didn’t. Continue Reading

Thousands protest at Mall of America, spark mall shut-down

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