A Memphis man was arrested at the Wolfchase Galleria on Saturday for videotaping an incident between Memphis Police Department (MPD) officers and two young black men, which was sparked by the mall's no hoodie policy.
The 59-year-old African American man, Kevin McKenzie who is a former reporter for The Commercial Appeal, documented his arrest and the incidents leading up to it in a Facebook post.
"I witnessed a mall-to-prison pipeline in action and I will not support it," McKenzie wrote.
The incident began when McKenzie noticed a mall security guard following a group of young black men through the mall, according to his Facebook post. The men were then escorted off the premises for violating the mall’s no hoodie policy. However, they soon returned.
When they returned, McKenzie, who recorded the exchange, said they were met with MPD officers and were told they would be arrested for criminal trespassing if they did not leave.
“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,” McKenzie wrote. “That’s when a black sheriff’s deputy approached me and told me I also was breaking the mall’s rules.”
McKenzie was asked to put his phone away and stop recording, and then 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 said.”
McKenzie, who was ultimately issued a misdemeanor citation, told the officers that the mall’s policy is discriminatory. However, the officers argued that that policy is set by the group that owns the mall, the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group.
A statement from Wolfchase said the policy is to promote a safe environment and that Saturday’s incident was handled by MPD, to which all questions should be directed.
The full statement reads: “Wolfchase Galleria is focused on providing a safe environment for all customers and employees. We require customers to not conceal their identity while on mall property as a matter of public safety. It is important that our security cameras and security personnel be able to see the faces of everyone on property.
Mall security personnel respectfully ask all customers concealing their identity to conform to the policy. Police are only called if a customer refuses or becomes belligerent. 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. The incident on Saturday night was managed by the MPD and we refer all questions about the circumstances to MPD.”
Officials with MPD did not immediately respond to the Flyer’s inquiry about the incident.