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RICHMOND HEIGHTS • The St. Louis Galleria closed for about half an hour Friday afternoon after seven people were arrested during a Black Friday protest.

Among those arrested was state Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., a Democrat. He and three other people who had been arrested were released by 7 p.m., according to protesters.

The protesters arrived shortly after 2 p.m. at the shopping mall. They walked through chanting, “Shut it down.” Some stores closed their doors and pulled down their security gates, in some cases trapping customers inside.

A large police presence could be seen around the area.

Richmond Heights police announced that the protesters should disperse by 2:25 p.m., or they would start making arrests. When police moved in to arrest one person, Franks questioned the officers, and he was thrown to the floor and his hands tied behind his back.

The seven arrested, one woman and six men, were handcuffed and lined up near the White House/Black Market store on the second floor of the mall.

The mall closed about 2:40 p.m. but was open again by 3:20 p.m after most protesters left the area.

About 50 people, including protesters and members of the news media, gathered in front of the St. Louis County Jail in Clayton, where the protesters apparently were taken. Some vowed to remain until the protesters were released.

“When they come out the door, we want them to know we’re here for them,” said the Rev. Darryl Gray, one of the organizers.

The protest was part of an economic boycott effort announced in early November by African-American clergy and activists over issues from police treatment of blacks to bank loan practices to infrastructure neglect in the northern part of St. Louis.

Organizers targeted some specific national retailers, as well as the Delmar Loop, raising questions about minority contracting used in building the new Loop Trolley there.

It also named the St. Louis Galleria in Richmond Heights, the site of a protest in late September that ended in more than 20 arrests.

“We pay taxes. … We spend our dollars in other communities, other venues, and we have not received an equitable return for those monies that we have invested,” said the Rev. Dinah Tatman, one of the organizers. “We’re now taking our money and investing in ourselves.”

Erin Heffernan of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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Denise Hollinshed is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Robert Cohen is a photographer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.