After footage of four black men being escorted out of a mall in Tennessee for wearing hoodies inside, four white women wore hoodies to the same mall to see if the policy was meant for everyone. And, yep, you guessed it, the women were able to walk freely around the mall with their hoodies—both up and down—without ever being shown the exit.
According to Raw Story, the initial incident that garnered national attention was captured by Kevin McKenzie, a black former reporter for the Commercial Appeal, who noted that he started recording the incident at the Wolfchase Galleria in Memphis, Tenn., after watching a white security guard tailing the group of young men like “he was a cat after mice.”
“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 told the Memphis Flyer. “That’s when a black sheriff’s deputy approached me and told me I also was breaking the mall’s rules.”
After being issued a misdemeanor citation, McKenzie added that the mall’s policy was discriminatory, but Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, which owns the shopping center, said the policy was to make sure people felt safe—and by “people,” they meant white people, and by “safe” they meant absent of black men.
So several white women decided to use their privilege to see if the rules really applied to all mall patrons and wore hoodies to see if they would be escorted off the premises.
“It just struck a chord on us that we could do that,” Sherry Ennis, one of the women, told Fox 13. “We could walk through there, we could take pictures, we could wear whatever we wanted.”
Shannon Arthur, another woman who participated in the experiment posted about it on her Facebook page.
“Sometimes our hoods were up, sometimes our hoods were down,” Arthur wrote. “If a security guard spotted us with our hoods up, they very politely asked us to take them down. One guard said it was because they need to be able to identify everybody’s faces. So we said, ‘Sure,’ took them down, walked on, and put the hoods back up a bit later. Repeat. No threats. Point made.”
McKenzie told the TV station the young black men who were asked to leave the mall didn’t have their hoods pulled over their heads before police got involved, and Ennis said she and her friends had proved a point.
“We’re not against law enforcement, no rules at all, but if they’re enforced equally, I’m up for that,” Ennis said. “We made a total point that it’s not enforced equally.”