Political Matters: #BlackLivesMatter at MOA
Tuesday, January 13 2015
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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mordecai_specktor_some.jpgOn New Year’s Eve two years ago, Idle No More, the activist movement for Indian rights that started in Canada and spread across North America, staged a round dance at the Mall of America that drew hundreds of participants. When the group tried to repeat the event on Dec. 31, 2013, organizers Patricia Shepard and Reyna Crow were arrested when they entered the mall.

In a way, Idle No More’s tactics were the precursor to the Dec. 20 #BlackLivesMatter demonstration, which brought several thousand folks, a mainly young, racially diverse group, to the East Rotunda of the largest mall in America.

On one of the busiest Christmas shopping days, MOA officials brought in dozens of private security guards, and cops from around the Twin Cities reinforced the Bloomington PD troops trying to repress the demonstration against the recent police killings of unarmed black men and children. In the end, the huge throng that came to the mall on a Saturday afternoon forced the assembled security force to do what it could to contain the protest, by closing about 80 stores and blocking off aisles leading to the packed rotunda. There were 25 arrests, according to press reports.

MOA officials whined to the press about protesters intruding on their (taxpayer-subsidized, publicly accessible) private property and the inconvenience to holiday shoppers from the mass demonstration. Thankfully, the Bloomington riot cops behaved with restraint and the protest proceeded in a boisterous and nonviolent way.

In the next phase, Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson told WCCO-TV that she is planning to file criminal charges against the organizers of the demonstration. The MOA will be calculating the amount of lost sales; and Johnson will tote up over overtime costs for police. This sort of aftermath is very familiar to me, as my son, Max, was charged in trumped up conspiracy after the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul. He and seven others, the RNC 8, faced a variety of felony charges, and were prosecuted in Ramsey County District Court for more than two years. Then the cases fizzled out: charges were dropped against three defendants, and several others were offered deals that amounted to the proverbial slap on the wrist, with no jail time.

In any case, the community should do what’s necessary to provide a legal defense for the #BlackLivesMatter organizers. Hopefully, large numbers of people can be mobilized in the future for protests drawing attention to environmental disasters in the making (PolyMet’s proposed copper-nickel mine, the Keystone XL pipeline, etc.).

Ma’iingan, Brother Wolf, protected

From the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Web site: “Effective Dec. 19, 2014, Minnesotans can no longer legally kill a wolf except in the defense of human life. A federal judge’s decision to immediately reinstate Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan place the animals under protection of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

As I wrote here, in May 2012, ma’iingan, our brother, the wolf, was removed from the endangered species list, in April 2011. In January 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed protection for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes states; then Minnesota and Wisconsin quickly passed legislation to open up areas for hunting and trapping wolves.

On Dec. 19, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled on a motion brought by The Humane Society of the United States, and other animal protection groups, deciding that wolf management in the western Great Lakes should be returned to federal control.

“In the short time since federal protections have been removed, trophy hunters and trappers have killed more than 1,500 Great Lakes wolves under hostile state management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf populations,” Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at HSUS said. “We are pleased that the court has recognized that the basis for the delisting decision was flawed, and would stop wolf recovery in its tracks.”

Tribes in the western Great Lakes region have opposed the recent hunting and trapping seasons for wolves, establishing reservations as wolf sanctuaries. Non-Indian hunters apparently were thrilled to have the opportunity to kill wolves for trophies; and it appears that a lawless element will ignore the Dec. 19 court decision.

One person commented on the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association’s Facebook page: “All this partisan judge did was declare open season on wolves. Regular Joe hunters are sick and tired of being ignored…. Great job your honor you did way more damage to your pressious [sic] wolves than any regulated hunting season ever could. Shoot, shovel, shut up.”

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