Mall protester Levy-Pounds vows to fight charges

Bloomington presses ahead with effort to recover ‘lost revenues’

Nekima Levy-Pounds
Nekima Levy-Pounds

Despite written pleas by local and national elected officials and a petition with over 40,000 signatures against it, the City of Bloomington has announced it will seek “lost revenues” from 10 people associated with last month’s Black Lives Matter Minneapolis demonstration at the Mall of America.

Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson, who filed charges last week, is seeking restitution, including at least $25,000 in police overtime, stated a Black Lives Matter Minneapolis press release last week.

University of St. Thomas Law Professor Nekima Levy-Pounds, one of the 10 persons charged with up to eight misdemeanors, told the audience at the January 15 Council on Black Minnesotans’ (COMB) Day on the Hill in St. Paul, “I was charged…because I have been outspoken against police misconduct [and] police brutality.” She characterized the action as “prosecutorial overreach and misuse of taxpayers’ dollars.”

Levy-Pounds, in a brief MSR interview after her scheduled appearance at St. Paul’s

Black Lives Matter protesters at the Mall  of America
Black Lives Matter protesters at the Mall of America

Christ Lutheran Church, said that the charges against her, if she were found guilty, carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison and an $8,000 fine, which “is retaliatory in nature because I have been outspoken in the media about the tactics being used by Johnson and Mall of America.”

The MSR contacted Johnson for comment but received no response to our phone messages and emails.

When asked if this may affect her position as a St. Thomas faculty member, Levy-Pounds responded, “The law school has been extremely supportive,”

“We support Prof. Levy-Pounds regardless of the outcome of [the pending charges],” said St. Thomas Dean and Professor of Law Robert Visther. In an emailed response he said he fully supports her community efforts. “I can think of no more positive model for the next generation of lawyers than to have a professor who’s willing to stand up for her convictions. That’s why we are very supportive of Prof. Levy-Pounds.”

Visther said he’s aware of some criticism of a law professor who willingly “violates the law,” but he recalls Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who often talked about breaking the law: “So long as we do it in an open, civil manner and [are] prepared to face the penalty for that,” added the dean.

Levy-Pounds added that she is more concerned about the young people who also were charged. “I don’t care what they try to do to me,” she stated, calling it an attempt to “curb non-violent protest and to intimidate [the young people] for standing against the status quo.”

During the COMB Day on the Hill event, Levy-Pounds explained that her involvement with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis began last year in the aftermath of several police killings of Blacks around the country.

“I traveled to Ferguson, Missouri during the week of Thanksgiving. I was tear-gassed my first night in that environment,” she recalled. “I’m a defender of the law and a protector of the law. I’m a protector of my people.”

Finally, Levy-Pounds pledged to fight the charges filed against her and asks others to join her as well. “I want the Black community to mobilize behind us and continue to declare that Black lives matter. We want the community to stand with us. We are not giving up or giving in.”

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to