By Traci Moyer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — Ranny Hinton Jr. said he is offended by a sign posted at the local mall.
“The wording is offensive,” said Hinton, 21, of Anderson.
The sign, posted at the entrances of the Mounds Mall in Anderson states, “For the safety & well-being of everyone, please lower your hoodie.”
Mall officials say the rules regarding hoodies have been around since 2004, but new signs reminding patrons of the rule were posted in December.
Braun Roosa, general manager of Mounds Mall, said as the weather turns warmer the signs will be removed and are only in place as part of a safety measure.
“It was requested by local law enforcement,” Roosa said. “It is for security and ID purposes only. We don’t ask them to remove the hoodie, just lower it.”
Sending a message
Hinton said he was offended by the signs because hoodies are specifically targeted in the sign.
“It is mainly the younger generations that wear hoodies,” Hinton said. “I don’t think they should have it on there at all. There ain’t nothing on there about ski masks or beanies. Why does it matter about hoodies?”
Several people had not noticed the new sign posted next to the door handles at each entrance with a red, crossed-out hooded figure.
Sara Hinton, 20, of Anderson has been in the mall several times this last week, but only realized they were posted when they were pointed out. She said she can understand the security reasons behind the request, but the sign did not address all the different ways a person’s face could be obscured.
Braun said hoodies are specifically mentioned in its Mounds Mall Code of Conduct and other businesses, like the financial industry, make similar requests of clients including limiting the ability to wearing sunglasses inside.
Abiding by the rules
The guidelines are in place to “offer a safe, secure and pleasant shopping environment.”
Hoodies are actually listed in the code's first regulation.
“Appropriate, non-offensive attire; shirts and shoes must be worn; no hoodies or other apparel that will disguise identity,” the document states.
Other regulations include not wearing gang-related items and no backpacks are allowed.
A prohibition of firearms and weapons is listed third in the guidelines.
Cynthia Potter, 55, of Anderson had not noticed the signs either until they were pointed out. Potter and a friend walk inside the mall during the colder months.
“It makes me question the security and what prompted them to put those kinds of signs up and what has this place turned into,” she said. “They are being ‘hoodie’ specific — that is what the younger kids wear all the time.”
Shopping in other malls
Jesse Tron, a spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) in New York, N.Y., said he is not aware of other shopping centers posting similar signs.
“Each one is different,” Tron said of the business rules. “The general concept is they wouldn’t want you covering your face or obscuring it. Typically there is a reason they use that particular language. Maybe there has been an issue.”
Mounds Mall is not a member of ICSC, which represents 63,000 members in 90 countries around the world.
Braun denied that there was a specific incident that prompted the new signage, but a year ago a man was accused of kidnapping an 81-year-old woman at knifepoint from the Mounds Mall parking lot.
Jimmy Nave Jr., 33, of Anderson was convicted and sentenced to a 38 years in prison for the crime.
Indiana shopping centers owned by Simon Property Group Inc. do not have signage on their entrances, said Les Morris, a spokesman for the company.
“We have a code of conduct and it mentions appropriate attire, but we don’t go to that level and we aren’t going to post it on the doors,” he said.
Taylor Motsinger, 17, of Anderson was wearing a zip-up hoodie Friday at the mall.
“I don’t wear my hoodie up anyway,” Motsinger said. “It’s disrespectful to wear it up in a public place, but why should they ask people with hoodies and not hats or scarves?”
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