Calling it too “broad” and probably a violation of free speech, a Hennepin County judge has denied a request from the Mall of America to force Black Lives Matter to take down social media posts promoting a demonstration on Wednesday, Dec. 23, at the MOA.
If the request had been approved, people could have faced jail time for using social media to promote the demonstration.
However, Judge Karen Janisch agreed with the MOA that three Black Lives Matters members it has specifically named cannot protest in the mall’s building Wednesday and has issued a Temporary Restraining Order against them. Janisch denied the MOA’s request to issue Temporary Restraining Orders against four unnamed people.
Organizers for Black Lives Matter say the demonstration scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday will go on as planned.
Janisch denied the MOA’s request to force people to remove tweets or posts they have made about a possible demonstration because none of the Black Lives Matters members named in the suit “have control over these social media sites.” She also noted “these sites operate outside of the physical premises of MOA.” Janisch said when it comes to trespass, the mall can regulate what happens in its physical premises, but not social media.
The judge said prior rulings make it clear the mall can prevent political demonstrations on its property; however, it cannot regulate what people do outside of the mall. “Indeed, some of the communication or ‘encouragement’ may be in statements to the media or in other forums where the individual defendant has a constitutionally protected right to free speech,” noted Janisch.
Obviously, stopping three people from entering the mall will not come close to stopping the demonstrations. Hundreds of people have indicated on Facebook they plan to attend the demonstration. But the judge says those people were not identified by the MOA, and there is no legal precedent for issuing a “broad temporary restraining order enjoining the future acts of unidentified individuals or the public at large.”
Black Lives Matter says it will hold the rally at the nation’s largest shopping mall on one of the busiest shopping days of the year unless its demands are met. The group wants investigators in the police shooting death of Jamar Clark to release video related to the shooting, prosecute the police officers involved in the shooting without a grand jury and bring federal charges against white supremacists who shot five protesters.
A similarly timed protest last year at the MOA drew nearly 3,000 Black Lives Matter supporters. The Mall of America and Bloomington police responded by sending in officers in riot gear, shutting down the mall for several hours.
Mall of America vs Black Lives Matter Temporary Restraining Order