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Fri Jan 16, 2015, 07:35 PM

Minnesota State Democratic Chair speaks in support of Black Lives Matter Mall of America protesters

Earlier this week ten Minnesotans including influential civil rights attorney Nekima Levy-Pounds and nine other organizers with the Black Lives Matter movement were informed that they facing criminal prosecution. Their "crime" was organizing a peaceful protest at the Mall of America, a building that was built with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and just accepted another $250 million in tax breaks to build a major expansion.

Despite the fact that the public paid for a big chunk of the mall a foreign corporation claims private ownership of it and has set very strict rules to ensure that free speech is not exercised there, they are fine with it when people gather in the rotunda to rally for their favorite sports team but speaking in support of black lives is strictly prohibited.

Bloomington Attorney Sandra Johnson says that the protesters created a "tinderbox" that could have erupted at any moment. Never mind the fact that the protest already happened and was peaceful by all accounts with no property damage or injuries, but Sandra Johnson apparently considers too many black people gathered in one spot to create a "tinderbox".

Sandra Johnson does not just want to charge peaceful protesters as criminals for speaking out in support of black people in a place where doing so is strictly prohibited however, she also wants them to pay for the costs of the riot police that were sent to shut down the mall and intimidate the peaceful protesters.

Charging protesters for the cost of the riot police sent to intimidate them would set a very precedent of course and that is why people across the nation are standing in solidarity with the MOA 10 and demanding the charges against them be dropped.

Today we got a major new ally when Ken Martin chair of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party issued a surprisingly strong statement in support of the protesters who have been charged. Here are his words in full....

On this eve of the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life I am reminded of some very simple but profound words from Dr. King who said, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The recent decision by Bloomington City officials to prosecute organizers of the Mall of America protest is not only unjust – but frankly a threat to the very underpinning of our great democracy – the freedom of speech.

Thousands of Minnesotans from all walks of life gathered in a peaceful protest to bring awareness to the issues of inequity facing the African-American community, both here and around the country. Protests give people hope that in solidarity they can make their voices heard and be a catalyst for change within our communities. By charging the organizers of this protest, the City of Bloomington is, whether intentional or not, setting a very dangerous precedent that will have a chilling effect on non-violent protests. When you start to strip individuals of their right to be heard, you take away their hope that change is possible.

While the DFL recognizes that all lives matter, the alarming disparities which exist in our state for African-Americans is unacceptable and deserves acute attention by our community as a whole. The DFL strongly believes that black lives matter, and the short shrift that these growing disparities get by elected officials, community leaders, and the business community is not acceptable.

It is not acceptable that we have some of the highest graduation rates and test scores for white children yet some of the lowest graduation rates and test scores for African-American children. It is not acceptable that we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation as a whole, but one of the highest percentages of unemployed African-American populations. It is not acceptable that in so many quality of life indicators the white population in this state is faring better than communities of color. And it is certainly not acceptable that we charge people with a crime for trying to bring awareness to the inequities which exist in this country.

Dr. King’s march for justice did not end with an assassin’s bullet 47 years ago. While we have made many strides over that time, the recent events suggest that the issues of racial equality are as important as they ever were. So much work remains to reach that promised land that Dr. King so eloquently spoke of.

Senator Paul Wellstone used to say, “You should not separate the life you lead from the words you speak.” As elected officials, community and business leaders gather this Monday to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I urge them to not just speak of racial equality but to live those words and work deliberatively and thoughtfully to address the growing disparities which exist within our community effecting communities of color and specifically the African-American community. It’s not enough to say that black lives matter, we must see actions that provide opportunity for all.


https://www.dfl.org/dfl-news/2015/01/chairman-ken-martin-black-lives-matter/

While I always vote Democratic I have often found myself frustrated by the silence of the party leaders when it comes to showing support for those who engage in peaceful protest. Today I am not feeling that frustration however, today I am proud of my state party chair for standing up for free speech and racial equality.

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Reply Minnesota State Democratic Chair speaks in support of Black Lives Matter Mall of America protesters (Original post)
Bjorn Against Jan 2015 OP
marym625 Jan 2015 #1

Response to Bjorn Against (Original post)

Fri Jan 16, 2015, 07:40 PM

1. exactly!

"While I always vote Democratic I have often found myself frustrated by the silence of the party leaders when it comes to showing support for those who engage in peaceful protest."

Perfect.

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