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Mall of America Heightens Security to Keep Out Al-Shabaab, Reporters

MOA: When it's better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.

MOA: When it's better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.

When the terror group Al-Shabaab released a video this weekend naming the Mall of America as a potential target, Homeland Security took the threat seriously.

Shoppers, not so much. The Mall of America elected to stay open and business carried on as usual, only with increased security. There were no run-ins with actual terrorists, but at least one reporter nearly got thrown out.

See also: 10 Organizers Charged for Roles in Mall of America Protest

After a couple days of mulling the possibility of a terrorist attack, the Bloomington Police Department and the FBI eventually announced yesterday that the threatening video wasn't worth worrying over. Still, local news people swarmed Bloomington to see firsthand if people were making any sort of fuss.

The Pioneer Press's Kristi Belcamino was one lucky reporter assigned to check out the Mall of America. She went Sunday to rub elbows with some weekend shoppers and gauge mall security's concern, so she stopped by an information desk to ask where their office was.

The woman at the desk called security for Belcamino. They exchanged a few words, then she hung up.

Security didn't want reporters in the mall, so they were coming down to kick her out, she told Belcamino.

Belcamino turned tail and disappeared into the crowd, stripping out of her winter gear to disguise herself, she later recounted to Jim Romenesko, a popular blogger who covers strange tidbits from the news industry.

"I wasn't waiting around to get kicked out," Belcamino told Romenesko, so she finished up her reporting in stealth.

A lesson learned for all, if reporting the 3,000-strong Black Lives Matter protest at Mall of America back in December wasn't difficult enough. At the time, any reporters caught wandering the rotunda, where all the action was, were plucked out and ushered away to the fourth floor balcony.

The Mall of America isn't overly fond of journalists. Those working the Bloomington beat better leave the press pass at home.

Send news tips to Susan Du.