The Mall of America was used as “a decoy” to start a protest that quickly moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and blocked a terminal on a busy holiday travel day, one organizer of the demonstration said.
Access to one of two terminals was closed after more than 100 protesters gathered inside and blocked roads leading to the airport Wednesday, airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said. He said the protest caused some flight delays but no cancellations.
Protesters hoping to draw attention to the police shooting last month of a black man in Minneapolis had described in advance their plans to target the mall, but not the airport. They started at the shopping mecca in suburban Bloomington, where there was a heavy police presence, then took a light-rail train to the airport.
“The mall was a decoy,” said Black Lives Matter organizer Miski Noor, who protested at the airport. “I think it was really effective.”
Police said a total of 15 people were arrested at both sites, mostly for trespassing or obstruction of justice. No injuries or property damage were reported. Officials said that traffic at the airport was back to normal by Wednesday evening and that about 80 stores at the mall were closed for about an hour as officers escorted protesters off the property.
“We accomplished exactly what we came here to accomplish – we wanted to shut down the highway, shut down the airport and show solidarity with other Black Lives Matter groups,” Michelle Barnes of Minneapolis, one of the protest organizers, told the Star Tribune.
Gov. Mark Dayton said the moving protest created a “very, very dangerous situation.”
Dayton questioned the need for such a demonstration, noting that federal and state investigations were ongoing into the death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark, who was fatally shot by Minneapolis police responding to an assault complaint. The governor said releasing video of officers’ altercation with Clark, as demanded by protesters, could jeopardize the investigations.
Read more: The Blaze