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Judge Bars Organizers From 'Black Lives Matter' Mall of America Protest

The judge said she could not stop others from attending, after the nation's largest mall asked for a restraining order to stop the protest Wednesday.
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A judge ruled Tuesday that several local Black Lives Matter organizers cannot demonstrate at the Mall of America on the busy shopping day before Christmas Eve, but she said she couldn't stop others from attending the protest.

Lawyers for the nation's largest mall had requested a temporary restraining order to prevent the Black Lives Matter protest planned for Wednesday, in hopes of avoiding a repeat of the massive demonstration that disrupted business and closed stores in the mall last December.

Hennepin County District Court Judge Karen Janisch barred three protest organizers named as defendants in the mall's lawsuit from attending the demonstration, but she limited her order to them. The mall had sought to block the entire Black Lives Matter group from protesting.

"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 wrote.

Related: Minnesota Cops Tear Down Black Lives Matter Camp

The judge also denied the mall's request to order the organizers to remove posts about the protest from social media and to alert followers that the demonstration had been canceled. The organizers' attorney argued during a Monday hearing that those demands were clearly unconstitutional.

Mall attorney Susan Gaertner had said a restraining order would make it clear that the mall prohibits demonstrations on its own private property. With the judge's limited ruling, it's unclear what additional steps the mall may take to curtail the protest.

Gaertner did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment. Deputy Bloomington Police Chief Denis Otterness declined to discuss any additional security measures the mall may put in place Wednesday.

Protest organizers want to draw attention to the Nov. 15 police shooting of a black Minneapolis man, Jamar Clark, who died a day later. They also want to ramp up the pressure on investigators to release video of the shooting. Authorities say they won't release it while state and federal investigations are ongoing.

Kandace Montgomery, one of three organizers barred by the judge's order, said the group isn't deterred by the ban. She declined to say if she or her fellow organizers still planned to go to the mall, but she said she expects at least 700 people to show up.

"We are a leader-full organization. Just barring three of us does not mean that you've stopped our work," she said.

Related: Four Charged in Shooting Near Minneapolis Black Lives Matter Protest

The privately owned mall says another demonstration would mean lost sales, mirroring a major protest last year.

Thousands of demonstrators descended on Mall of America last December, angry over the absence of charges following the police killings of unarmed black men in New York City and Ferguson, Missouri. Stores in the mall had to close and dozens of people were arrested.

Gaertner repeatedly stressed at Monday's hearing that the mall's opposition to the Black Lives Matter protest is not about their message, but the venue and the protest's potential for disrupting last-minute holiday shopping.

Police say Clark, 24, died during a struggle with officers. Others, though, say Clark was handcuffed at the time.