Kevin McKenzie, a former journalist, accused police of racial profiling after being picked up while defending a Black teen who was arrested for allegedly violating a mall’s “no hoodie” dress code in Memphis, Tennessee on Saturday.
McKenzie, 59, filmed a White security guard who was tailing a group of Black teens at Wolfchase Galleria for wearing hoodies.
Kevin McKenzie, a former journalist, accused police of racial profiling after being picked up while defending a Black teen who was arrested for allegedly violating a mall’s “no hoodie” dress code in Memphis, Tennessee on Saturday. https://t.co/rIznPmAxIg pic.twitter.com/OpXbTIclgy
— EBONY MAGAZINE (@EBONYMag) November 8, 2018
A video of the encounter was shared to Facebook on Sunday by McKenzie’s wife, Peggy, and shows one teen being arrested despite all four boys in the group wearing hoodies. In her caption, the wife of the accuser gave his account of the event.
McKenzie, who is also Black, revealed his “antenna went up” when he saw the White guard following the group of young Black men as they entered the mall.
After nearly losing the group. The guard reportedly called for back up and had the boys escorted from the premises.
During this time, McKenzie asked the officers what happened, and he was told, “Their hoodies had violated a mall policy.”
McKenzie continued, “I hadn’t noticed any hoods when I first saw the security guard following them. Hoodie profiling was news to me.”
The teens re-entered the mall and one of them declared, “We have rights.”
The 59-year-old said that is when two deputies and two Memphis police officers intervened. Although McKenzie pleaded for the boys, one teen was then arrested for criminal trespassing, according to WREG.
A picture of the Wolfchase Galleria’s code of conduct was posted to Facebook on Sunday. The only mention of a dress code reads, “Wear appropriate clothing.” No rule says hoodies are prohibited in the shopping center.
McKenzie told Yahoo Lifestyle that the mall had some issues with crime. “They don’t want people to come in and not be able to be identified through the cameras,” he said.
The former journalist recalled that not one of the young men in question had their hood up.
He told the news site, “To make the leap from having crime problems to a hoodie profiling policy that ends up with a young man in handcuffs is not the way to go.”
McKenzie felt he was also targeted because he taped the ordeal. “[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 via his wife’s Facebook post.
“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,” McKenzie wrote.
Due to a health concern, he was released with a misdemeanor citation. The 59-year-old said he later found out the young man was released with a citation and a date to attend court.
The story has since gone viral and McKenzie told Yahoo that he has yet to hear from any representatives from the Wolfchase Galleria about his racial profiling claims.
What's Your Reaction?
Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.