A former journalist is accusing a Memphis mall of racial profiling after its security guards arrested a black teen for wearing a hoodie. The mall’s defense? The teen’s apparel violated the mall’s “no hoodie” dress code policy.
Kevin McKenzie, 59 and his wife Peggy were inside Wolfchase Galleria Mall headed to a cell phone store when they noticed “an “older white male security guard following a group of young black men not far from a mall entrance.” At this time McKenzie wrote in a Facebook post which has since gone viral, that his “antenna went up.”
McKenzie says that as soon as the group of men began to outpace the officer, he reached for his radio and called for back up. That’s when an African-American security guard approached and escorted one of the young men out. McKenzie inquired and was told the teen violated the mall policy.
“Hoodie profiling was news to me,” he wrote.
A Code of Conduct posted at Wolfchase Galleria doesn’t specify what type of clothing would be in violation, and instead states “wear appropriate clothing.” McKenzie spoke with Yahoo Lifestyle and said the mall has seen its fair share of crime, and he understands the premise of not being able to identify someone on security cameras if they’re wearing their hoodie up, but none of the young men had their hoodies on.
“To make the leap from having a crime problems to a hoodie profiling policy that ends up with a young man in handcuffs is not the way to go,” he said.
McKenzie recorded the entire encounter and as a result, was even detained by officers. When handcuffed, he continued to argue against the dress code. Security guards countered and said the mall is private property and can enforce their own rules. After being arrested, both he and the teen were presented with a form that bans them from the mall. While the teen was frightened, he signed it. McKenzie, however, did not.
“I didn’t need to because I will never spend another dollar at Wolfchase Mall,” he said. “Baby Boomers like me have failed to reverse the laws and policies that have led young black men in our community to be targeted by public laws and on this private pro.”