An Oregon lawmaker is calling for people to loiter at a local shopping center after she said her teen daughter was harassed and racially profiled for sitting in her car with friends Friday in the mall’s parking lot.
“Go see how long it takes to be asked to leave the mall by mall security, state Rep. Janelle Bynum said in a week-long Facebook event dubbed “Loiter-in for Chrissy” at Clackamas Town Center.
“Sit in the food court, sit in your car on the phone, sit on the benches. Report your experience here,” the state House member said.
She then explained in multiple Facebook posts what happened to her 17-year-old daughter when a friend didn’t have a license with her to get into an R-rated movie.
Bynum said the friend had provided a school ID and a photo of her birth certificate, which her mother sent in a text message, but the teen still wasn’t allowed into the movie.
“My daughter, Chrissy, was accused of loitering too long at Clackamas Town Center on Friday,” Bynum said. “She and her friends were sitting her car on their phones trying to find something else to do after the movie plans fell through.
“She believes she was racially profiled by a mall cop. Let’s figure out if there’s a difference between loitering or being the wrong color.”
Bynum said her daughter had been sitting in her silver 2004 Buick Century for about 10 minutes when a mall security officer walked up to the car at about 5 p.m. and told the teens the mall had strict “no loitering” policies.
“They didn’t even know what the word meant,” Bynum said in another post.
The mall’s code of conduct prohibits “excessive loitering” but doesn’t define what’s considered excessive.
“Guests who do not act responsibly may be asked to leave,” the mall states in its code of conduct. “If they refuse to leave the property, they may be arrested and prosecuted for criminal trespass.”
Bynum said the mall’s manager emailed her Saturday, saying he’d like to discuss the incident with her daughter after he gathered more information.
“This is what people don’t understand about discrimination,” Bynum said in a Facebook post. “You can be vigilant about criminal activity while disproportionately and illegally targeting certain people based on race. It’s called collateral damage.”
Bynum told The Oregonian her daughter and her friends “were confused because they hadn’t done anything wrong and couldn’t understand why he chose to talk to them.”
Bynum said her daughter is a senior at La Salle Catholic College Preparatory, an honor roll student and student ambassador in Milwaukie, Oregon.
“I shared the story because the mall is a place of public accommodation where everyone should feel welcome,” Bynum told the newspaper.
Sr. General Manager Dennis Curtis, of the Clackamas Town Center, said he is aware of the concern regarding the teens in an emailed statement to Atlanta Black Star Monday.
“Our highest priority is the safety and well-being of our guests, retailers and everyone who visits our property,” he said. “Our policies, applicable in this case, are designed with that priority in mind.”
“We respect the privacy of our guests and have reached out to Representative Bynum to discuss the encounter,” Curtis said. “We are committed to ensuring that our center is inclusive and that it welcomes all members of our community.”
Under one of her Facebook posts, Arjorie Arberry-Baribeault said she works as a hairstylist at the mall and was stopped by a mall security officer doing something she had done several times before, eating her lunch in her Infiniti.
Arberry-Baribeault, a Black woman, said that’s when a mall security officer drove up along her, rolled down his window and asked, “Whatchu got goin on?’’
“I was taken a bit back because of how ‘tough’ he was coming off towards me,’’ she wrote.
Still, the woman explained she was eating lunch, and with one eyebrow raised the officer asked if she was an employee,” she said.
“Yes…why else would I be sitting in my cAr in the mALL parkING lot…eating my lUNch 🤷🏾♀️,” she responded. “He nods and drives slowly away…and I proceed to drive back to work…after I finished my lunch.”
She said she didn’t think much about it until reading Bynum’s post.
There have been several media reports that the center has frequently been used for interstate drug deals.
The Oregonian reported a large heroin bust at the center earlier this month.
Susie Ann, a white woman who commented under one of Bynum’s posts, said her friend Tiffany, who also isn’t Black, was stopped at the shopping center too.
“Well, I’m not black and I’ve been approached and/or told to leave for sitting in my car too long when I’ve been pumping or nursing Felicity, too,” Tiffany said through Susie Ann. “I’ve been approached while waiting in my car for Robbie to show up for dinner, too.
“There are a lot of drug deals that happen in the mall parking lot. I’ve witnessed a few while I’ve been sitting in the car pumping.”
Bynum responded to one of the comments that mentioned the recent drug bust.
“These are the real threats we should be looking for. Not unfairly targeting teens,” she responded, according to The Oregonian.
Bynum and two other Black legislators sponsored legislation that was recently signed into law by the governor to allow victims of fake 911 calls to take the caller to small claims court and seek up to $250 in damages, The Oregonian reported.
The law goes into effect Jan. 1.