The Mall of America has won another trespassing case, asserting again that it is a private entity which can determine who can enter the building and what is and isn’t proper behavior.
The latest case has its roots in an Idle No More event on December 31, 2012. The group held a New Year’s Eve round dance at the Mall in which nearly a thousand Native people and allies flooded the vestibule near the entrance to Sears, drumming and dancing in a circle.
In 2013, leaders of the group received letters from the Mall of America threatening them with arrest if another event took place. “The Idle No More group caused disruption to our customers, tenants and employees, and resulted in a significant commitment of time and resources by our security and management teams,” the letter stated.
Patricia Shepard, one of the groups leaders, called the letter “discriminatory.” When she and co-organizer Reyna Crow entered the mall on December 31, 2013 trailed by a group of cameras and legal observers, Shepard and Crow were arrested and cited for trespassing.
On Thursday a Hennepin County court found Shepard guilty of trespass and ordered her to pay a $78 fine and remain on probation for a year. On her Facebook page Shepard had argued that U.S. treaties with Native Americans gave her the right to be there.
Shepard is considering appealing her conviction. Crow’s trial is set for August 10.
Unequal treatment alleged
Before the trial, Shepard told The UpTake “You have an injustice happening where there’s no equity and there’s no equality, there’s an issue when you have white people going in there singing choir songs and white christian songs and flash mobs and what you have, but we are not given that same opportunity to go in there and sing our songs.”
“The Mall strikes again,” wrote Shepard on her Facebook page after the verdict. “Beware all who dare speak out.”
A similar trespass case involving the mall and protest is pending before another Hennepin County judge. The case involves 11 people the mall says were organizers of a Black Lives Matter rally in December 2014. Attorneys for the defendants have filed motions to have the charges dismissed arguing the mall cannot be considered a private entity. The attorneys point evidence the mall and the City of Bloomington were essentially acting as one and that transformed the mall into a public place where people should be free to exercise their right to free speech.