A Tennessee man was arrested at a shopping mall on Saturday for videotaping an incident between Memphis Police Department officers and two young black men who had violated the mall’s “no hoodie” policy.
“I witnessed a mall-to-prison pipeline in action and I will not support it,” McKenzie, a journalist wrote in a Facebook post shared by his wife.
According to the post, the officer was following the men through the mall before escorting them out for violating the “no hoodie” policy implemented at the mall.
But when the young men tried to return, they were met with Memphis police officers who threatened them with an arrest if they did not leave immediately. McKenzie was recording the whole 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,” 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 then threatened to stop recording and to leave the mall or also face an arrest. But he says he was quickly put in handcuffs before he could even respond. He was later handed a misdemeanor citation.
Following McKenzie’s post, the mall issued a statement saying that it was “focused on providing a safe environment for all customers and employees.”
The statement continues: “[Wolfchase Galleries] 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.”
McKenzie told News Channel 3 that this incident had larger implications.
“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,” he said. “They’re perceived as threats and they shouldn’t be.”