In a viral social media post, a group of white women challenged a Tennessee mall's unwritten policy banning hoodies and accused the facility of racial profiling. The social experiment comes after a video from a local former journalist showed mall security stopping four young black men wearing hoodies, and placing one of them in handcuffs, at Wolfchase Galleria in Cordova earlier this month.
Along with three of her friends, Shannon Arthur set out Saturday to prove a point about the incident, according to her Facebook post. By walking around the mall with their hoodies on and off, the women wanted to show how they were treated differently than people of color.
"If a security guard spotted us with our hoods up, they very politely asked us to take them down," Arthur wrote. "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."
She concluded there's no doubt her group was given a "pass" compared to the boys in this month's encounter with mall security for wearing hoodies.
"I respect law enforcement," Arthur wrote. "And mall cops. But there's no question that some members of our community are constantly harassed and traumatized where those with less melanin are given a pass. We must do better."
The post tallied thousands of reactions and shares on Facebook. Rapper Yo Gotti, who has more than 3.8 million followers on Instagram, praised the women on social media for putting a spotlight on the "double standard."
"Last week a group of young black men were targeted by Wolfchase Galleria's racist 'No Hoodie' policy," he wrote in a caption. "These women helped bring light to the double standard we face in our community and across America."
CBS affiliate WREG spoke to ex-journalist Kevin McKenzie, who took the video of four men being tailed and confronted by security at the mall over their hoodies. Law enforcement agents –– from both Memphis Police and the Shelby County Sheriff's Office –– kicked the young men out of the mall, and one was taken into custody, according to WREG.
"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," McKenzie said. "They're perceived as threats and they shouldn't be."
WREG obtained a statement from Wolfchase Galleria explaining their dress-code policy, which calls for "appropriate clothing" but doesn't specifically mention hoodies.
"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," the statement said.
In the incident, Wolfchase says the individual was removed from the mall after he did not remove his hoodie, despite multiple directives from a Memphis Police Department officer.
Memphis told WREG, "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."
CBS News reached out to Simon Property Group, which owns Wolfchase Galleria and other malls around the U.S., for further clarification, but did not immediately hear back.
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