The Mall of America on Monday asked a judge to block a protest planned for Wednesday afternoon by the group Black Lives Matter Minneapolis over the fatal shooting of a black man by a Minneapolis police officer in November.
The group said the protest would go on at the suburban Minneapolis mall regardless of the lawsuit. A hearing was set for Monday afternoon in Hennepin County court on the request for a restraining order, electronic court records showed.
A year ago, thousands of demonstrators gathered at the mall to protest the deaths of African-American men in New York and Missouri in incidents involving the police. Several dozen people were arrested, and charges were dismissed against 11 defendants.
A representative of the mall and the attorney who sought the restraining order could not be reached immediately for comment.
The lawsuit names the group and several organizers as defendants. It asks a judge to prohibit a demonstration without written permission from the mall and to require the group to take down social media posts supporting the protest.
The mall also wants the court to order Black Lives Matter to post notices on its Facebook page and Twitter feed that the protest is canceled.
“It’s absolutely unconstitutional that a corporation thinks that they can limit the speech of citizens, especially by asking us to Tweet or Facebook anything specific,” said Kandace Montgomery, one of the defendants named in the lawsuit.
“We are here for Black Lives, no matter what,” she said.
Black Lives Matter has organized demonstrations since the shooting of Jamar Clark, 24, by a Minneapolis officer on Nov. 15. Clark died the next day, adding fuel to a heightened debate in the United States over police use of lethal force, especially against black people.
Demonstrators were camped outside a Minneapolis police precinct station for nearly three weeks after Clark’s shooting and planned Wednesday’s protest to demand release of videos from that night.
Demonstrators also want a special prosecutor to hear the case instead of Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman, and want to bypass a grand jury, which some see as part of a process that exonerates officers.
Five protesters were shot near the precinct in late November after an altercation with men that prosecutors said went to cause trouble at the camp. Three white men and an Asian man were charged in connection with that shooting.
(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Dan Grebler)