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Black Lives Matter protest disrupts Mall of America, MSP airport

BLOOMINGTON - Protesters used public transit to hamper operations of major Twin Cities facilities Wednesday, including the Mall of America and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

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A security guard looks over the East Rotunda in the Mall of America ahead of a Black Lives Matter protest on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. ROBB JEFFRIES / FORUM NEWS SERVICE

BLOOMINGTON - Protesters used public transit to hamper operations of major Twin Cities facilities Wednesday, including the Mall of America and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Hundreds filled the East Rotunda at the Mall of America in support of the Black Live Matter movement, which is seeking the release of video by the Minneapolis Police Department of the November shooting death of Jamar Clark.

The mall had dozens of uniformed security officers and police from several Twin Cities agencies on hand for the afternoon protest, which mall management sought to prevent through a county court injunction. Judge Karen Janisch declined to grant the mall’s request on Tuesday.

Mall of America tenants on the east side of the building were closed early Wednesday afternoon ahead of the protest. Two store managers said the closures were at the direction of mall management.

After starting chants of “no justice, no peace” and “release the tapes” -- referring to Minneapolis police’s refusal to allow public viewing of video evidence in Clark’s death -- protesters by the hundreds left the mall and packed light rail trains to the airport, where traffic to both terminals was disrupted.

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Airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said he was not aware of any delays in flights as of 2:20 p.m. Wednesday.

The Black Lives Matter Minneapolis Twitter account -- @BlackLivesMpls -- posted Wednesday afternoon “We've just shut down the mall, the lightrail, AND the airport. Jamar won't celebrate Christmas this year, so we shut it ALL down. #BlackXmas.”

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton told reporters Wednesday that he plans separate meetings with Black Lives Matter and NAACP officials next week as he prepares proposals to help erase economic disparities between white and black Minnesotans.

He has proposed spending $15 million during a special legislative session he wants to call on other issues. While that amount is not nearly enough, he said, it would be a start before the regular session begins March 8.

"It is an important statement of our good will and our intentions," Dayton said about the $15 million.

The governor said he wants input from the black community to write a proposal about how to spend the money.

Legislative leaders are expected to have their own group looking into what can be done on the issue in a special session.

He said the state sent about 30 troopers to help Bloomington police with the mall protest, which on Wednesday morning he said he hoped would be peaceful.

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He said that he "remains sympathetic to the goals of Black Lives Matter," but a judge Tuesday ruled a protest in the private mall is against the law.

Dayton often has criticized Black Lives Matter tactics while supporting their aims.

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By Robb Jeffries, Forum News Service

Forum News Service reporter Don Davis contributed to this report.

Related Topics: BLACK LIVES MATTER
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