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12 arrested as #blacklivesmatter protesters descend upon Mall of America during Christmas crush

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(Reuters) – 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 centers, a community group member said.

The protest was the latest in a series of demonstrations across the United States in recent weeks over grand jury decisions not to charge white police officers in the killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City.

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Police made some arrests in the demonstration on private property at the Mall of America in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, said Bloomington police spokesman Mark Stehlik.

Stehlik could not immediately say how many were taken into custody, but the mall later said in a statement that police made about a dozen arrests.

The action organized 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 organizer with the group Community Action Against Racism.

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.

A representative from the group could not be reached for comment.

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The Mall of America statement warned organizers 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 centers 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.

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(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Gunna Dickson)


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Harvey Weinstein rape and sexual assault trial set for opening arguments

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Opening arguments in Harvey Weinstein's rape and sexual assault trial are due Wednesday, with the defense expected to detail "loving" emails between the once-mighty movie producer and his accusers.

Weinstein, 67, faces life in prison if convicted of predatory sexual assault charges related to two women in the high-profile New York proceedings seen as key to the #MeToo movement.

Prosecutors will argue that the former Miramax Films boss was a sexual predator who made a career out of abusing women who were trying to make their way in Hollywood.

Weinstein's attorneys will try to convince the court that his two accusers engaged in consensual relationships with the defendant and only claimed the incidents were forced years later.

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Fast response: How Tokyo Olympics will cope if earthquake strikes

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It's 9:15 am on Sunday July 26 and excitement is building at the Tokyo Aquatics centre as the first swimming medals are up for grabs. Nearby at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, US superstar Simone Biles is warming up for her first appearance at the 2020 Olympics.

Without warning a 7.3-magnitude earthquake rips through Tokyo Bay, the ground shakes violently causing citywide damage, widespread panic and multiple casualties.

Fortunately, this is just an imagined scenario at a disaster drill carried out just before Christmas, as Tokyo 2020 organisers prepare for the worst, while hoping they will never have to do it for real.

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Ousted Grammy CEO files explosive discrimination complaint

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The ousted chief of the organization behind the Grammys filed a complaint on Tuesday accusing the Recording Academy of putting her on leave after she raised concerns about sexual harassment, voting irregularites and other misconduct.

Deborah Dugan says in her 44-page complaint before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Los Angeles that the Academy retaliated against her after she detailed the misconduct in December.

In her most explosive charge against the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Dugan says that she was asked to hire her predecessor, Neil Portnow, as a consultant despite allegations that he had raped a foreign female recording artist, "which was, upon information and belief, the real reason his contract was not renewed."

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