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St. Paul, Minn, - The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed motions to dismiss the charges brought against their client, Kandace Montgomery, that stem from a December rally at the Mall of America. Attorneys representing the other defendants who face charges also filed motions to dismiss. Montgomery is one of the 11 charged with organizing the rally and faces eight different charges.
"This is a moment for the courts to stand on the right side of history and dismiss these trumped up charges," said Kandace Montgomery, Black Lives Matter organizer. "This is the moment, across all of our institutions, including courthouses and malls, that we demand Black Lives Matter and end the silencing of those like me and the other defendants fighting for our liberation."
The ACLU-MN argues that the charges brought against the organizers of the rally violate their First Amendment right to freedom of speech, assembly, and petitioning for redress, and that the statutes used to charge the defendants are unconstitutionally vague.
Previous Supreme Court rulings have held that laws must be written so the average person can understand exactly what actions would be considered unlawful and that the laws cannot be so vague that they could be discriminatorily enforced.
"Freedom of speech and assembly are such fundamental rights to Americans," stated Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN. "They are the bedrock of all of our other rights. These demonstrators were peacefully exercising their rights, and that should be protected above any corporate interest. If the Mall of America had just let them demonstrate and disperse this would not have arisen into a public controversy."
One of the charges the demonstrators face is disorderly conduct. Not only is the statute itself quite vague, but the ACLU argues that prosecutors were unable to sufficiently demonstrate that Montgomery, and the other organizer's behavior was any more "disorderly" than any other typical behavior at the Mall of America.
The demonstrators were also charged with unlawful assembly, however in the case State v. Hipp, the Minnesota Supreme Court said that the unlawful assembly statute only regulates criminal conduct, not peaceful demonstrations.
The ACLU-MN argues that a previous Minnesota Supreme Court decision, Wicklund, should be overturned because the Mall of American is in fact a public forum, and that Wicklund does not apply to this particular event because of the inappropriate coordination between the Mall of America and local, state, and federal authorities.
Cooperating attorneys in the case include Scott Flaherty, Michael Sawers, Jordan Weber, and Cyrus Malek, of Briggs and Morgan, and Teresa Nelson of the ACLU-MN.
- Motion to dismiss the charges against Kandace Montgomery for lack of probable cause
- Memo in support of motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause
- Motion to dismiss the charges against Kandace Montgomery for constitutional violations
- Memo in support of motion to dismiss charges against all defendants for constitutional violations (1)
- Memo in support of motion to dismiss charges against all defendants for constitutional violations (2)
- Declaration of Scott Flaherty (cooperating attorney) with exhibits