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Indiana mall's 'hoodie' signs offend some patrons

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 8:45 am

ANDERSON — A central Indiana mall's recent posting of signs asking visitors to lower their hoodies when stepping inside the building has offended some of its younger patrons.

The signs at the entrances of the Mounds Mall in Anderson state that, "For the safety & well-being of everyone, please lower your hoodie."

Mounds Mall general manager Braun Roosa said the mall's hoodie rule dates to 2004, but the signs were not posted until December at the request of local police. He said that once the weather turns warmer, the signs will be removed.

"It is for security and ID purposes only. We don't ask them to remove the hoodie, just lower it," Roosa told The Herald Bulletin (http://bit.ly/1mMYGOW ).

Ranny Hinton Jr., a 21-year-old Anderson resident, said he's offended by the signs, which are posted next to the door handles at each entrance and show a crossed-out hooded figure.

Hinton said it's mainly younger people who wear the hooded sweatshirts and the sign doesn't mention anything about ski masks or other facial coverings.

"Why does it matter about hoodies?" he said.

Roosa said hoodies are specifically mentioned in Mounds Mall's code of conduct, and other businesses, such as the financial industry, make similar requests of clients. He said that includes limiting the ability of customers to wear sunglasses inside.

Jesse Tron, a spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers in New York City, said he is not aware of other shopping centers posting similar signs.

"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," Tron said.

Mounds Mall is not a member of the council, which represents 63,000 members in 90 nations around the world. Last year, a man was accused of kidnapping an 81-year-old woman at knifepoint from the mall's parking lot.

But Roosa said there was no specific incident that prompted the new signage.

Taylor Motsinger, a 17-year-old who wore a zip-up hoodie during a Friday visit to the mall, said it's "disrespectful" for anyone to wear a hood up in a public place.

"But why should they ask people with hoodies and not hats or scarves?" Motsinger asked.