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Is It Legal to Crack Down on #BlackLivesMatter Protest Leaders?

Protesters from the group "Black Lives Matter" disrupt holiday shoppers on Dec. 20, 2014 at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Arizona
Protesters from the group "Black Lives Matter" disrupt holiday shoppers on Dec. 20, 2014 at the Mall of America in Bloomington, ArizonaPhotographer: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

On Saturday, Dec. 20, Minnesota’s Mall of America was partially shut down for hours as at least 1,500 people converged inside for a Black Lives Matter protest. No violence or property damage was reported, according to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). Twenty-five people were arrested, cited, and released. But Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson, citing the overtime incurred by police and the revenue lost by shuttered shops, says the organizers of the protests should pay a higher price.

“It’s important to make an example out of these organizers so that this never happens again,” Johnson told MPR on Tuesday. She said she plans to file criminal charges next week against leaders of the demonstration, perhaps for aiding and abetting unlawful assembly or aiding and abetting public nuisance. Along with mall security videos to identify the organizers, prosecutors plan to scour Facebook posts and media interviews. “Who led that march through the Mall of America?” Johnson said to the local CBS station Monday night. “If we can identify those people who were inciting others to continue with this illegal activity, we can consider charges against them too.”