Black Lives Matter announced another December gathering in the Mall of America this year. Many reasons: Justice for Jamar Clark, killed this year by a Minneapolis police officer; one more year of unbearable racial differences in income, education, health, housing; unequal enforcement practices of transit police; racially disparate stops, frisks, arrests by city police …
Last year, MOA called in the Bloomington police, who broke up a peaceful gathering and arrested protesters and leaders. The Mall stood its ground, righteously claiming that its private property rights are superior to any protest. The Mall welcomes all kinds of people to sing and dance on its private property.
MOA allowed 7,000+ people to gather and sing to raise awareness about cancer. They did not allow 3,000 protesters to gather and sing to raise awareness about racism. Instead, MOA called in police in riot gear to close down a large part of the mall, trapping demonstrators and shoppers alike.
Some of those charges are still pending — many have been dismissed by the court as without merit. Hard feelings remain.
This year could be different.
Imagine what could happen if the Mall of America welcomed Black Lives Matter.
Imagine MOA and the city attorney announcing that all of last year’s charges will be dropped, instead of wasting more time and public money on prosecutions of peaceful protesters.
Imagine a mall spokesperson sending out a press release that says, “We agree: Black Lives Matter. You are part of our community. You are welcome here.”
Imagine the rotunda filled with people singing and chanting and listening to speeches. Imagine them spreading out afterwards, shopping and drinking coffee and eating dinner at MOA.
Imagine MOA sending a symbolic donation of coats and scarves and hats to Shiloh Temple or Neighborhoods Organizing for Change for distribution to those in need in North Minneapolis.
Imagine MOA inviting the NAACP and Black Lives Matter and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change to organize an MOA event marking Martin Luther King Day in January.
Imagine a Mall of America that takes positive steps to welcome Black Americans.
Imagine a Mall of America that says “Come in,” instead of “Keep out” to protesters.
December 23 will roll around, and the MOA may once again choose force over imagination, but it doesn’t need to be that way. In the words of John Lennon:
Imagine all the people sharing all the world
You may say I’m a dreamer,
but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one