Hundreds of protesters against police violence shut down part of the Mall of America in Minnesota on Saturday, during the final weekend before Christmas as shoppers scrambled to buy gifts at one of the nation’s largest shopping centres, a community group member said.
Demonstrators at the Mall of America shouted “Hands up, don’t shoot!”, referring to the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri, and “Black people can’t breathe, while we’re on our shopping sprees,” referring to the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York.
Police made 12 arrests in the demonstration on private property at the Mall of America in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, said Bloomington police spokesman Mark Stehlik.
Protesters held their hands in the air while mall officials displayed an electronic billboard message warning demonstrators they risked arrest, according to an image posted on the Twitter account of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.
The action organised by Black Lives Matter Minneapolis saw hundreds of participants gather at a rotunda at the mall where some staged a so-called “die-in,” said a participant Mischa Kegan, 30, who is an organiser with the group Community Action Against Racism.
A representative from the group could not be reached for comment.
The Mall of America statement warned organisers of its longstanding policy against protests. It said stores were closed on the east side of the mall as protesters were cleared out of the area, but the shopping and entertainment complex has since fully reopened.
Last month, days after a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, demonstrators targeted shopping centres in a number of cities on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that typically ranks as the nation’s busiest shopping day.
The protest on Saturday came as shoppers filled malls and department stores across the United States on the last weekend before Christmas.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Gunna Dickson)
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