Anthony Perkins as Inspector Javert (
by Steve Timmer
Dec 24, 2014, 10:00 PM

Inspector Javert

In the last story about the MOA Black Lives Matter rally on the 20th, I suggested that Bloomington city attorney Sandra Johnson was the protagonist in a Greek tragedy, doomed by circumstances, but obsessed to carry on in the face of a fate that was obvious to everyone but her.

That metaphor was completely wrong. She isn’t a tragic hero; she’s Inspector Javert from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Johnson is obsessed all right, not with pursuing a man who originally stole a loaf of bread to live, but rather with a small group who staged a rally over a different kind of loaf: the ability of young black men to simply breathe in America.

There were members of the clergy who participated in the protest, and they are dismayed that Sandra Javert wants to single out a few people to make them an object lesson:

Charge us, too.

That’s what a growing list of clergy is telling Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson and Mall of America administrators. Johnson says she expects to charge organizers of a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mall on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

The clergy are upset that the city would single out three or four organizers when so many people participated. They are also upset that mall administrators assumed that the peaceful protest could turn violent and brought in a large security and police presence, something the mall did not do for a cancer memorial event that drew about 7,000 people.

“We were shocked and dismayed to see that the Mall of America did not believe the peaceful intentions of the peaceful gathering. We were stunned to see police in riot gear and extra law enforcement including state troopers present,” said the letter.

“In early December, over 7000 people filled the same Rotunda in memory of one who died too soon to cancer, to raise awareness and money for cancer research. Apparently, there was no strong police presence; they were not met with police in riot gear, and no extra law enforcement officials (were) called in. We, too, gathered to remember untimely deaths of unarmed black men and boys and to raise awareness of police brutality.

“For reasons that are unclear to us, the Mall chose to respond to this second gathering in a completely different fashion, apparently presuming the worst of those who attended.”

To pick out a few people, with modest means, to try to bury with legal expenses and judgments, when so many participated, is vile and reprehensible. There are few things worse than a vengeful and crusading public prosecutor, out to make examples of people, especially one that is trying to exact revenge on behalf of a suburban shopping mall.

This would not make a great opera, an opera buffa, maybe. O, mia MOA!

Personally, I think a selective prosecution vendetta is an abuse of the office of public prosecutor, and it brings shame on everyone associated with it: the city of Bloomington, the MOA, and the city attorney’s office. It is a blot that won’t easily be rubbed out.

And when City Attorney Johnson finally confronts her inevitable moral crisis about this, will she follow Inspector Javert’s lead and throw herself into Nine Mile Creek?

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