Judge OKs keeping Black Lives Matter leaders from MOA protest

Miski Noor speaks to the media.
Miski Noor, a leader with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, and Kandace Montgomery, an organizer from the group, speak to the media after a court hearing Monday afternoon.
Peter Cox | MPR News

Updated Dec. 23, 12:10 p.m. | Posted Dec. 22, 3:39 p.m.

A Hennepin County judge on Tuesday said the Mall of America can legally keep three Black Lives Matter Minneapolis protest leaders from demonstrating in the mall or on mall grounds Wednesday.

The decision, however, is unlikely to stop the protest that organizers have planned for 1:30 p.m., setting up a potential new confrontation inside the mall if authorities ask protesters to leave and they don't.

Black Lives Matter leaders immediately signaled after the ruling that the group intends to be there Wednesday.

"The protest is going to go on as planned," said Miski Noor, who along with Michael McDowell and Kandace Montgomery were banned from MOA property on Wednesday.

In her Tuesday ruling, Judge Karen Janisch made it clear that while her decision focused on three protest leaders and she did not issue a restraining order against Black Lives Matter as an entity, it did not mean she was OK'ing a mall protest.

"Although the court issues a temporary restraining order against three identified individual defendants, the court's decision should not be interpreted as authorizing or permitting others to engage in political demonstration at the Mall of America without the express permission of the Mall of America," the judge wrote.

Janisch did reject the mall's demand that Black Lives Matter delete social media posts and put up cancellation notices tied to the protest, a request that had alarmed The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota and other First Amendment advocates.

"Organizing a protest on social media is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution and should not be restrained," the ACLU said, adding that the mall was "trying to intimidate free speech activities with this aggressive lawsuit."

Last year's Black Lives Matter protest drew thousands of people to the mall's East Rotunda and resulted in dozens of arrests as well as a nearly yearlong legal battle over charges against the protest's organizers.

The demonstration then was aimed at calling attention to the death of Michael Brown, shot by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer.

This year's protest was expected to focus on Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old man shot to death by police in north Minneapolis on Nov. 15.

On Twitter, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis wrote, "The latest over the top waste of taxpayer money to silence free speech has failed miserably," adding, "See you tomorrow."

Correction (Dec. 23, 2015): Earlier versions of this story mischaracterized the scope of the judge's ruling related to the planned protest of Black Lives Matter at the Mall of America. The decision did not prohibit Black Lives Matter as an organization from being in the mall. The ruling prohibits three Black Lives Matter leaders from participating in an unsanctioned protest at the mall on Wednesday but does not prevent them from being at the mall.

Here is the ruling:

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