Bloomington files charges against 10 in Mall of America protest

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The Mall of America Rotunda filled with protestors
Protesters filled the Mall of America's rotunda during a demonstration on Dec. 20, 2014.
Jackson Forderer / For MPR News 2014

Updated 4:40 p.m. | Posted 12:30 p.m.

The Bloomington City Attorney has charged 10 people in the Black Lives Matter protest at the Mall of America in December.

The 10 charged are Shannon Bade, 45; Todd Dahlstrom, 49; Amity Foster, 38; Adja Gildersleve, 26; Mica Grimm, 24; Nekima Levy-Pounds, 38; Michael McDowell, 21; Kandace Montgomery, 24; Catherine Salonek, 26; and Jie Wronski-Riley, 18. They face between three and eight misdemeanor charges that include unlawful assembly, public nuisance, trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Charges are pending against 25 others.

At least 1,500 protesters came to the mall as part of a nationwide wave of demonstrations following grand jury decisions not to indict police officers who killed unarmed black men in New York and Missouri.

The Mall of America, which is private property, has a longstanding policy against allowing protests. Mall officials said in a press release that protesters were warned they did not have permission to gather there.

City Attorney Sandra Johnson has said the Dec. 20 protest on a busy weekend before Christmas created unsafe situations.

According to the criminal complaints, Bloomington police officers dressed in plain clothes attended an organizing meeting where organizers described tactics such as how to stall police. Police even signed up to receive texts from organizers.

In a statement released late this afternoon, the group Black Lives Matter denounced the charges. One of those charged, Mica Grimm, said "these charges are absurd" and that asking protesters for restitution sets a dangerous precedent.

"It is unfortunate that the Bloomington City Attorney has chosen to focus so much time, energy, and taxpayer resources to pursue vengeance for a peaceful gathering," said Charles Samuelson, executive director of ACLU-MN, in a statement. "Rather than joining the dialogue that has arisen from this national movement, the City has instead chosen to try and silence those who are speaking out."

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