Several Harlem businesses are reportedly turning away customers wearing hoodies, masks and sweatshirts. DNAInfo-New York reports three businesses on Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem have signs displayed in their store windows directed toward potential customers. The sign reportedly reads, “do not enter with hoodie or mask; if so you are now trespassing.” The bright red sign, which was created by Philadelphia businessman Joe Stark, has been put in place to decrease shoplifting and robbery.
“We’re trying to put robbers and shoplifters on notice. When you get a guy walking into a store and he has a hood up, a mask up, it can be a scary thing,” Stark explained. “The only complaint you might have is from the little thugs selling drugs in the corner.”
Although Stark made it clear that business owners are not insisting the signs are racially charged, shoppers have reportedly voiced their opposing views. Many customers feel the signs are a bit extreme and signify indirect racial profiling. One store owner has even made it clear that babies aren’t welcomed in his store if they’re wearing hoodies. Princess Johnson, a frustrated mother, recounted her disheartening experience at local store with WCBS-2.
“I can’t get her milk because they said we’re trespassing. I feel offended,” adding, “The signs are everywhere. They should take them down because it’s violating everybody and we can’t go into a store because of a hoodie? That’s crazy.”
However, store owners are insisting the signs are acts of precaution. Restaurant owner Phillip Bulgar shared his opinion with ABC-7.
“There been a lot of issues in the community with robberies crimes[sic] and most of these businesses have cameras, but sometimes they come in with their hoodies on and you can’t see their face. In order to make people feel safer, business people feel safer, we just ask some of the younger people: please, can you take your hoodie off? It’s a safety issue,” said Bulgar.
Although DNAInfo-New York only reported a total of three businesses with signs, ABC-7 has discovered several other signs. Stark also stated he’s sold more than one thousand signs thus far, so shoppers can probably expect to see many more signs as the holiday season approaches.
Do you think “No Hoodies Allowed” signs are an act of precaution or discrimination? Share your thoughts.
[Image(s) via Bing]