Property rights matter

Libby Grygar and Andy Hudlow

Being American, we naturally love the Mall of America. It’s the twelfth largest indoor mall in the world, and seeing as we love to spend our money on pointless things, we flock to the mall in droves. We respect the mall for its inherent consumerism, capitalism, and materialism. You see, the mall embodies quite a few “ism’s” but one that it has absolutely no connection to is “racism.”

And therein lies the problem with the recent “Black Lives Matter” protest at the Mall of America on December 20, 2014. For some reason the protestors chose a location that had nothing at all to do with racism or race relations and ruined the mall’s business for a day. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of business were lost because a bunch of malcontents arbitrarily picked a location to protest and in turn hurt more people than they helped.

You see, when MLK and his supporters were protesting in the south, they sat in at segregated lunch counters, they broke the rules on segregated buses, they marched on Washington D.C., the source of segregational laws, they didn’t march up north and ruin the business of some restaurant that had absolutely nothing to do with segregation. This protest was in no way in keeping with any Civil Rights legacy and wasn’t only disruptive and illegal, but also incredibly misguided.

And then of course there is the tiny issue that the Mall of America is private property. For those of us who aren’t aware, “private property” means that it’s owned by someone, and if that someone isn’t you, then you can’t do whatever you want on it. The First Amendment of our Constitution allows the freedom to assemble…on public property. The Mall of America is owned by Triple Five Group, and occupied by myriad retail stores and restaurants–making it doubly private property.

Some might say that the Mall of America is fair game for protest because it was publicly subsidized, but they fail to recognize the fact that the ownership of the mall rests with private corporations, and  that the mall is not a venue for protest. If the leaders of “Black Lives Matter” are searching for protest locations, we’d like to suggest the State Capitol, any police station, any city hall, or generally any seat of government where laws are made or enforced.

We think the city of Bloomington didn’t go far enough in pursuing charges against the Mall of America protesters. Whereas the protestors say that the city of Bloomington should drop all charges against the ringleaders, we believe that, if at all possible, charges should be brought against a greater number of people responsible for the disruption of business. All protesters violated private property laws, and in a perfect world, all who participated should be punished.

We support the right to protest and we agree that racism exists and indeed is bad, however the problem we have with the protest is that through foolishness and lack of recognition with current laws, people and businesses who had no qualms with this issue were economically hurt. What we care about is making sure that people don’t get the idea that they can go around and trample on others’ rights just because they believe they have an issue that needs attention.