Witnesses say, whereas Memphis Rapper Huge Boogie and his crew had been ( P-Poppin ) in entrance of a Victoria Secret Pink retailer, white wolfchase mall safety guards Referred to as the cops. One bystander stated she over heard the guards say,
“Hopfully when the cops get right here they are going to really feel threatened by the colour of their pores and skin and kill the darkest boy”
My husband, Kevin McKenzie, had the most shocking, infuriating, humiliating experience at Wolfchase Galleria on Saturday. But the worst thing is not what happened to him, but what happens to young black men daily all over this country.
I went to the Wolfchase Galleria on Saturday, Nov. 3, to visit a cell phone store, but using my cell phone to capture on video police and deputies ejecting and arresting young black men over hoodies led to my arrest and a strange trip to Shelby County jail.
As a 59-year-old black man and former journalist, my antenna went up when I rode the escalator to the second floor of Wolfchase and saw an older white male security guard following a group of young black men not far from a mall entrance. As the young men outpaced the guard and began to disappear ahead, the guard radioed someone. Within moments, an African American who appeared to be a sheriff’s deputy appeared and began directing the young men back towards the security guard. The law enforcement officer then escorted them out of the mall.
That’s when a black sheriff’s deputy approached me and told me I also was breaking the mall’s rules.
“You’re in violation of mall policy,” he said. “So you can be asked to leave too so you might want to put your phone up,” he said.
A moment’s hesitation as I continued to hold my phone up earned me an order to leave. Within seconds, a white Memphis police officer stepped in to tell me I would be arrested if I didn’t leave. 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.
Along the way, I argued that the mall’s hoodie policy was discriminatory. The officers argued that the mall, run by Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, is private property and sets its own rules.
But it wasn’t Simon or Wolfchase guards enforcing the mall policies. The Memphis police officers making arrests were off-duty and moonlighting, I was told. But they are taxpayer-trained and equipped, wear their MPD uniforms while working for the mall and claim the same authority as any police officer.
They use public trespass law as the teeth to enforce this hoodie policy. In a predominantly African American area like Memphis and Shelby County, it clearly disproportionately targets young black men.
Crime is a legitimate issue for the mall, the city and the county. But as author and civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander points out in her book, “The New Jim Crow,” vague trespass laws are one legal tool that has been used to control black populations, and particularly black men, since slavery ended.
The officers could have issued me a misdemeanor citation and released me, but I was told that because I continued talking, I was going to jail. Initially, officers told the young man whose arrest I captured on video that he, too, would be going to jail because I kept talking. After he was thoroughly frightened, he was given a citation instead and released to appear in court later.
An on-duty Memphis police officer was called away from answering calls in Cordova to transport me more than 20 miles to the jail Downtown.
It turned out to be a stroke of luck that a toe infection has required me to take intravenous antibiotics. After a long wait to get into the jail’s sally port, I was told I couldn’t get in because of the medical issue and would have to be evaluated at the Regional Medical Center and possibly held there.
At the hospital, a man shrieked behind a partially closed door while I was led into a nearby room for medical evaluation. The officer who transported me discovered that his handcuffs had malfunctioned and couldn’t be unlocked from my left arm.
At some point, with the officer who transported me approaching the end of his shift and potentially looking at taxpayer-funded overtime pay, the Memphis Police Department made a decision to issue me a misdemeanor citation.
I waited in the cramped, plastic back seat of the squad car while he wrote the citation and signed it on the car trunk. A short trip to a nearby fire station allowed a firefighter to cut the dangling handcuff off. The officer sped me back to Wolfchase, where my trip began.
An African American who appeared to be a Wolfchase security guard copied information from my driver’s license, which had been seized by the police officer, took photos and presented a form for me to sign agreeing to be banned from the mall.
I didn’t sign it, although the young man arrested over challenging the hoodie policy did. I didn’t need to because I will never spend another dollar at Wolfchase. I witnessed a mall-to-prison pipeline in action and I will not support it.
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 property that everyone knows is the closest thing to a suburban public square.
The cops who arrested me shook their heads at how someone as old as me would stand my ground and risk arrest. The real question for Memphis and Shelby County is why more people of all ages are not?
WHAT DO THE THINK?