Wednesday, August 5, 2020
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Minn. judge restricts #BlackLivesMatter protest

A judge in Minnesota has issued a temporary restraining order, enjoining three people associated with the Black Lives Matter movement from engaging in protests on private property belonging to the Mall of America in the state, according to the order filed in the case.


A student-led protest in Minnesota begins, Dec. 2014 (Fibonacci Blue / Flickr Creative Commons)

However, Judge Karen A Janisch ruled on December 22 that, since the Black Lives Matter movement wasn’t an incorporated entity and therefore couldn’t be a party in a lawsuit before a court, she was unable to enjoin the #BlackLivesMatter movement as a whole from protesting.

The Mall of America requests that the Court order a broad temporary injunction against “defendants” which as identified in the Verified Complaint includes, Black Lives Matter, named individual defendants, and unidentified John Doe defendants 1-4. The Mall of America also requests that the Court issue broad restraints directed to “defendants,” their agents, and anyone acting in active concert or participation with the defendants and to order that certain statements be posted on social media sites attributed to Black Lives Matter.

The Verified Complaint identifies Black Lives Matters as a defendant. However, Plaintiff has provided no evidence that Black Lives Matters is a legally cognizable entity capable of being sued as a party in litigation. While such evidence may exist and may eventually be presented to the Court, without evidence establishing that a named entity is an organization that is a legal entity for purposes of suing or being sued and that service of process can be accomplished to bring the entity within the Court’s jurisdiction, the Court does not have a sufficient basis to issue an injunction as to Black Lives Matters or to unidentified persons who may be acting as its agents or in active concert with the Black Lives Matters movement.

She did make it clear that her refusal to grant a temporary restraining order in part in this case, as a strict matter of law, should not be construed as her giving permission to protesters to engage in political protests on private property. She said she believed a lawsuit, brought by the owners of Mall of America, would be successful in charging protesters with criminal trespass on private property.

On the record presented, the Court concludes that the Mall of America is likely to prevail under existing case law on its assertion that, as a private property owner, it can limit the conduct permitted on its premises and that persons who violate its directives as to unpermitted conduct on the property are subject to a civil trespass claim. As to three of the individually named defendants, McDowell, Noor and Montgomery, the Mall of America has presented clear evidence and legal support that these individuals intend to engage in a political demonstration at the Mall of America, that such conduct would be in violation of the Mall of America’s rights to control its property and persons on its property, and that an injunction prohibiting those individuals from participating in conduct constituting a demonstration on the property of the Mall of America is necessary to prevent an irreparable harm to the Mall of America. …

Although the Court issues a temporary restraining order against three identified individual defendants, the Court’s decision should not be interpreted as authorizing or permitting others to engage in political demonstration at the Mall of America without the express permission of the Mall of America.

In her order, Judge Janisch said she was unable to restrain the actions of Black Lives Matter or any defendants on property that was not owned by Mall of America, such as public spaces.

The Mall of America has also not, however, sustained its burden in establishing that it is entitled to equitable relief for its trespass claim such that the Court may issue an order compelling actions or enjoining conduct by the individual defendants that occurs away from the physical premises of the Mall of America. A claim of trespass relates to the possessory rights over real property. The Mall of America has not presented clear facts or legal support that the Court may, in relation to a civil trespass claim, enjoin actions or direct actions by parties or others that occur outside of the territorial limits of the real property.

Black Lives Matter movement says blacks in the US ‘can’t breathe’

The Black Lives Matter movement was created in 2012 following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida and the subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman in what the movement says was a “dead 17-year-old” being posthumously “placed on trial for his own murder.” The chapter-based movement is loosely organized around a few Twitter hashtags, including #BlackLivesMatter and #ICantBreathe.

Although the movement grew from protests against police and vigilante violence, which is against the law, or should be, chapters like those in Minnesota, Chicago, and San Francisco have gone beyond that message to address the dehumanization of black people in the US and the racism against blacks that permeates US culture and the legal, education, and private enterprise systems the group says have been established in America.

The movement marked “Black Xmas” on December 23, when peaceful protests were planned in several key cities, including one at the Mall of America. By disrupting “business as usual,” the group hoped to call attention to “city, state, and federal budgets” that are systemically “funding Black death.” The Washington Post recently reported that blacks, whites, and Hispanics were about equally likely to be shot in a traffic stop, but since more blacks die from traffic stop shootings, police must be pulling them over at a much greater rate. The movement seeks to create change that would “start funding Black futures.”

The group said its leaders hope “police, politicians, and predatory companies” would stop degrading black families and communities and instead “declare our inherent worth.”

Institutional, systemic racism in America

The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, a group including the nation’s two largest teachers’ unions, has shown that when the state government takes over schools, black and Latino communities are “stripped of political power” and disenfranchised, continuing a pattern of systemic, institutional, or state-sponsored crimes against people of color.

Their report, released in August, traces the history of what the group calls “market-based intervention and reform,” at three New Jersey school districts in the late 1980s and mid-1990s to the present-day push to allow state-run schools in Georgia. Segregation has increased, community schools have been shut down or cut back, and the financial stability of black communities has been reduced so badly that schools can’t possibly function at their best.

As a result, the education of black children suffers, perpetuating just the kind of racial injustice our schools should be working to eliminate.

But even as organizations from the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools to Black Lives Matter spread a message of peaceful resistance, with their methods taking their place among those of immigrants and workers in our past, what we see is closer to a survival instinct than true leadership. The difficult thing about America is standing up for the rights of people you don’t agree with, and we see none of that here.

It’s like a person whose head is being held under water. They’ll struggle to get to the surface and breathe until they can’t struggle anymore. Corporations like Mall of America and institutions like our state governments keep holding black people and black communities’ heads under water, and they write reports or defend themselves in court in order to breathe.

As soon as black communities defend the rights of corporations to take over schools or black people defend the rights of Mall of America to run their private property as they want—that’s when we’ll see America’s greatness, and that’s when, I suspect, we’ll see real change that moves to rid us of institutionalized racism and disenfranchisement. In other words, we need to take acts like “fighting for our freedom,” which many black people do in the military, down to a micro scale, to give it a more personal touch with individual corporations with “other” motives and people of “other” races. But that’s hard, like I said.

In the meantime, we will keep holding black people’s heads under water and they will continue to fight for survival, unable to breathe, like the hashtag says.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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