Mall trespass charges dismissed

Relieved defendant fears impending police state

News Analysis

Bloomington Prosecutor Sandra Johnson has dismissed all charges against Deanne Pratt, a middle-aged White woman who was unjustly charged at the Mall of America (MOA). She was present and took pictures during the Black Lives Matter demonstration last December. Pratt was a shopper at MOA on the day of the demonstration and was not an actual participant in the protest.

Pratt stated her innocence from the moment she was approached by Bloomington police. Her case was dismissed by the Bloomington city prosecutor for lack of evidence after her attorneys, Andrea Palumbo and Steven Appleget, filed motions to dismiss the charges. Pratt was one of over 20 people arrested at MOA during the #BlackLivesMatter demonstration and was subsequently charged with trespassing by the Bloomington City Attorney.

“It was clear from Deanne’s experience that the police were looking for anyone to arrest that day to send a message,” said Appleget.

Pratt said, “I was very relieved when I got word that the trespassing charge against me had been dismissed. The whole ordeal has been crazy and never seemed to make sense to me.

“On the day of the demonstration, I was there as a shopper who happened to be at the end of the Mall where the demonstration happened. I was touched by the show of community support of Black Lives Matter as I watched the demonstration from the third floor.

“I was surprised by the aggressive behavior of police in riot gear surrounding those of us who were quiet observers. The police blocked off all of the escalators, the elevators, and the hallways and you couldn’t go back or resume shopping.”

Pratt describes her arrest: “I was on my way to the Apple store and I could not get past the police, so I was forced to leave through the parking ramp and that’s when the police grabbed me from behind. They immediately handcuffed me and I asked them why. I tried to explain that I was hearing impaired and needed to visually see what they were saying, but they kept talking to me from behind.

“I was then told that I was being arrested for trespassing and I was totally stunned because I was in the process of leaving the premises,” continued Pratt. They took those of us who were arrested to a dark, unlit, unpaved parking lot in a van and we were taken out one by one, processed in a dirt parking lot with no lights, and were then told to leave without being given any direction as to where we were or where to go.

“I was in shock, afraid, and had no idea how to get back to the light rail so I could leave,” said Pratt. “I feel that the police overreacted to what was essentially a nonviolent, peaceful demonstration. That whole experience has made me feel that we are creeping into a police state and it is frightening to witness.”

Andrea Palumbo, attorney and co-counsel for Deanne Pratt stated, “We are glad that this is the end of a long, frightening ordeal for Deanne. She was at the Mall that day to do exactly what the Mall wanted her to do, which was to shop. And she was swept up by the overzealous security and police forces. No one should have to go through what she has endured. She has been put through hell, simply for being at the Mall that day.”

According to Nekima Levy-Pounds, attorney, defendant, and president of the Minneapolis NAACP, “The dismissal of trespassing charges against Deanne Pratt is long overdue. The reality is that she never should have been charged in the first place by the Bloomington City Attorney. A wrong happened in her case, and it is a relief that the situation has finally been resolved. Deanne Pratt deserves an apology for being mistreated and wrongfully prosecuted by the City of Bloomington for simply being present at the Mall on the day of the demonstration.”

The weekend of August 8 marked the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of unarmed Black teenager Mike Brown by Darren Wilson, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri at the time of the shooting. Mike Brown’s death helped to spur the national #BlackLivesMatter Movement and demonstrations around the country to protest violent and unnecessary deaths of unarmed African Americans at the hands of police officers and to call for greater measures of accountability in police practices and protocols.

 

This information was provided by Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, a group of Black and allied organizers in Minneapolis, MN working in solidarity with the national Black Lives Matter movement.