Boycott of Franklin Park Mall planned after shoppers claim harassment
There is a push to boycott the Franklin Park Mall in west Toledo after some say security is treating young African-American men and women unfairly.
A recently formed social justice group, s'Heros, is asking the public to join the group in a one-day protest on Tuesday.
A trio of young women told NBC 24 they have been harassed recently by mall security.
"I feel the weight of being watched," says Johnna Bankston, a 25-year old woman.
She and two others say as part of the mall's Youth Supervision Policy, they are being falsely targeted. In 2016, the mall enacted the policy which prohibits shoppers under the age of 17 from being at the mall without adult supervision on Friday and Saturday nights after 4:00 p.m.
But Bankston, along with Paulette Rice and Jumoke Ayodeji are all over the age of 18.
They say they have been repeatedly stopped by security for ID checks.
Despite proving their age, they say they are continually stopped, sometimes just moments apart. They believe it's because of their race.
"We've seen younger Caucasian girls and they don't say anything to them," Rice notes.
"It's racial profiling," adds Ayodeji. "Because if you look at the policies in the handbook, there's already a demographic who they've picked out of who they want to be in the mall and who they don't want to be in the mall."
Franklin Park Mall sent the following statement to NBC 24:
"Franklin Park Mall strives to provide a welcoming environment for all of our guests. In fact, the mall's Youth Supervision Policy, which is in place Friday and Saturday evenings, and its Code of Conduct, were developed with suggestions from guests, shoppers, community partners as well as tenants.
"Both of these policies were put in place to create a family-friendly atmosphere. To be effective they must be consistently supported by our team which may mean that anyone who looks to be under 25 years old may be requested to show proper identification that states they are over the age of 18. Our security partner routinely provides ongoing training for its teams; however, we have asked them to revisit training regarding both of our policies and ways to professionally convey messages to our guests.
"Finally, we are very proud of our community ties. We have successful relationships with more than a dozen area non-profits and do our best to support their goals and efforts in and around Toledo."
Meanwhile, Dareva Dawson says her 14-year old son was recently kicked out of the mall's movie theater. She says he was in a row with other teenagers who were reportedly being too loud. Dawson says her son was not with the group, but was asked to leave anyway.
Even if the incident did take place when youth aren't allowed in the mall without supervision, Dawson says what happened next is what truly concerns her.
"He was pushed against the wall, taken down in the back and arrested."
Dawson has pictures of her son with a wound on his forehead. She says they came as a result of an off-duty police officer who was working security at the mall.
Dawson added that she fully understands the need for mall security but feels like things have simply gotten out of hand.
"Franklin Park Mall and its movie theater have initiated a policy of stop, interrogate, remove, question, ID and profile young black children and young adults," according to a statement pulled from a news release issued this weekend by s'Heros.
NBC 24 forwarded that exact quote to a Toledo Police Department spokesman who said he did not know what the text was referring to.