A Black teen in Tennessee, Memphis, was arrested for wearing a hoodie in the mall.
After witnessing the teen being harassed by a white mall cop, a former Memphis Commercial Appeal reporter, 59-year-old Kevin McKenzie started to record the incident.
In the video, the officer can be seen calling for backup as he trails behind the teens. A Shelby County Sheriff's deputy arrived, informed the young men that they had violated the mall's no-hoodie policy and escorted them outside. McKenzie felt uncomfortable with that unfolded and stepped in on the young men's behalf, before being arrested too.
"I asked the deputy what the young men had done. Their hoodies had violated a mall policy, he said. It was unclear to me whether the violation involved wearing the hoods up or not; I hadn’t noticed any hoods when I first saw the security guard following them. Hoodie profiling was news to me."
After the teens returned to the mall, stating that they had rights, one was placed under arrest for criminal trespassing. They then asked McKenzie to leave. The officers then turned their attention to McKenzie, who was still documenting the interaction. The former reporter agreed to leave but was placed under arrest anyway. He could not be taken to jail because of medical issues and was then taken to the hospital where police realized the handcuffs, but the handcuffs placed on him could not be released.
“After they decided they’d give me a misdemeanor citation and let me go, he took me around to the fire station where I put my arm out and the firefighters cut it off with bolt cutters. That was fun," he said.
“I’m disturbed that even today and especially today probably because race is back on the front burner in America, young Black men have a very hard time. They’re perceived as threats, and they shouldn’t be,” McKenzie told WREG.
The Wolfchase Galleria Mall released a statement on the incident.
“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 the 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, an MPD 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 Memphis Police, and we refer all questions about the circumstances to MPD.”
A spokesperson for the MPD also released a statement.
"MPD does not create policies for the Wolfchase Galleria. The owner of any private property has the right to ask patrons to leave their premises. If an officer is working secondary employment, or if an officer is dispatched to any private property for assistance regarding a patron that is asked to leave the premises, officers will respond. If the policies that are in place by the Wolfchase Mall are in question, you will need to contact them for information."