With 285 malls in 39 states and Puerto Rico, Simon Property Group is
the nation’s largest mall owner. But when you visit a Simon mall, don’t
forget to check your civil rights at the door.
After shopping for church clothes at Battlefield Mall in Springfield, MO, 10-year-old
Lydia Smith and her mother sat down for a bite to eat in the food court. Within
minutes a mall security officer approached and asked her to remove her bandana,
which was decorated with smiley faces, flowers, and perhaps most importantly,
peace signs. Apparently she had violated a new rule at the mall, "failing
to be fully clothed or wearing apparel which is likely to provide a disturbance
or embroil other groups or the general public in open conflict."
for the AP story)
Simon’s response to the incident was even less reassuring than the incident
itself. “What the public needs to understand,” said Christine Moses,
director of mall marketing, “is the mall is privately owned by Simon Property
Group Inc. Behavior on its premises can be regulated.”
"The bottom line is we want to have an environment (conducive) to shopping,”
added Moses, “Offensive apparel does not fit in with that environment."
Simon officials refused to specify what offends them. "The code of conduct
is pretty clear and, you know, I think common sense should prevail," said
Simon spokesman Les Morris.
At least one Battlefield Mall retailer, JCPenney, sells bandannas, which seem
to be on the list of offensive items. Their bandannas sell for $4.50 and come
in black, white, blue and red. "How is that right?" Springfield resident
Charlotte Jack wanted to know.
“The fact just is,” Morris said.
Simon Property Group has no intention of putting a ban on what products individual
stores choose to offer, Morris said. Now that’s reassuring.
Common sense? If Simon reasons that a 10-year-old girl will embroil
the general public in open conflict, maybe they could use a dose of common sense
All we are saying…is give speech a chance, even at Simon malls.
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