A former journalist, Kevin McKenzie, filmed some African-American men being kicked out of the Wolfchase Galleria for wearing hoodies in Cordova, Tennessee, on Nov. 10. Days later four white women were allowed to wear hoodies at the mall (below).
McKenzie told WHBQ that he saw a white male security guard follow the young black men like “he was a cat after mice.”
McKenzie filmed one of the black men being placed in handcuffs.
McKenzie said he asked security why the men were being kicked out, they told him it was because they were “wearing hoodies.”
WHBQ notes the mall policy states that people “must wear appropriate clothing,” but there is no mention of hoodies.
McKenzie told the Memphis Flyer how he was arrested for filming the incident:
For reasons I didn’t hear, one young man in what appeared to be a nylon blue and white jacket with a hood that was not on his head was handcuffed by a Memphis officer and led away as my video rolled. That’s when a black sheriff’s deputy approached me and told me I also was breaking the mall’s rules.
McKenzie said he was asked to put his phone away and stop filming, and was told he would be arrested if he didn’t leave the mall:
Before I could respond, he twisted my arms behind me and placed me in handcuffs and marched me down the escalator to a back office at the mall.
McKenzie, who was issued a misdemeanor citation, told the officers that the mall’s policy is discriminatory, but the police said the policy is set by the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group.
The Wolfchase Galleria defended the incident: “In this instance, a Memphis Police Department officer repeatedly requested the individual to remove his ‘hoodie.’ He did not comply with this directive and was removed from the mall.”
However, four white women went to the same mall wearing hoodies and were not asked to leave. One of the women, Shannon Arthur, documented their experiment on Facebook:
We four white women walked more than a mile through the Wolfchase Galleria wearing our hoodies and our privilege, just to see what would happen.
This is the same mall where several young black men were recently kicked out, roughed up, and/or arrested for allegedly violating an unposted no-hoodie policy, and a bystander was also arrested for documenting the injustice with his smartphone.
Sometimes our hoods were up, sometimes our hoods were down. If a security guard spotted us with our hoods up, they very politely asked us to take them down.
One guard said it was because they need to be able to identify everybody’s faces. So we said, “Sure,” took them down, walked on, and put the hoods back up a bit later. Repeat. No threats. Point made.
We saw people wearing baseball caps. Those caps cover faces more than hoods do. We didn’t witness anyone being asked to remove a cap.
I respect law enforcement. And mall cops. But there’s no question that some members of our community are constantly harassed and traumatized where those with less melanin are given a pass. We must do better.