MOA spying must be curtailed now

The Mall of America used highly inappropriate measures to spy on Black Lives Matter protesters. This included making a fake Facebook account to befriend organizers and obtain their personal information and photos, according to a report last week from the Intercept, a security news outlet started by the journalists who first published classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

While it is understandable that the mall is pressing charges against the protesters for illegally assembling on private property, these so-called security measures allude to a disturbing culture that breaches acceptable ethical boundaries.

The Facebook account, which carried the name Nikki Larson, was reportedly created in 2009 and had liked pages involved with Ferguson activists, a labor union, Occupy Minneapolis and anti-police brutality movements, the Intercept reported.

The Mall of America has gone as far as creating its own counterterrorism unit called Risk Assessment and Mitigation, which used aggressive tactics in attempts to boost security.

The mall is no doubt a potential target for terrorists, and security must be taken seriously. But MOA officials have proven they will go too far in this endeavor. The FBI once questioned a Pakistani-American for simply leaving his cellphone at a food court table in the mall, an incident that alludes to serious racial bias.

Black Lives Matter protesters couldn’t be further from terrorists, but the mall seems to be treating them as such. The Mall of America should immediately curb its extreme measures in surveilling for rather mild protests.