FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – People in Fort Wayne are divided after a growing awareness of some local businesses that are posting signs asking people to pull the hoods on their hoodies down before they come enter the establishment.
It’s a trend happening all over the state. A sign at the Mounds Mall in Anderson also asks visitors to lower their hood if wearing a hoodie because of security purposes.
It’s not a new policy for most stores. Business owners who have the signs on the door said it’s a safety issue if the facial view is obstructed because it not only protects employees but potential customers as well. The Pop Shop on Main Street in downtown Fort Wayne posted the sign after a string of armed robberies. Likewise, financial institutions have had similar policies for years.
“Having the ability to recognize a member’s face when they walk through the door is not only a customer service courtesy, but it’s most certainly a security practice,” said Melissa Shaw, the Communications Director at 3Rivers Federal Credit Union.
While some understand the need for heightened security, they think it’s not necessary to post the signs.
“We just had the coldest winter in how long,” Fort Wayne resident, Mario Bell said. “It’s cold out here, so if someone wants to wear a hoodie, that shouldn’t make you a bad guy because of what you have on.”
However, other business owners said they wouldn’t post a similar sign because, to them, it is tip-toeing on a fine line. They believe employees should ask people to remove their hood upon entering a business if deemed suspicious, not before the people walk inside.
“I think it’s stereotyping in a very big way,” Raymond Mack, who owns a local convenient store and a restaurant, said. “When you look at a lot of things that are happening in our community, a lot of those things aren’t being done because they have a hood on.”
People who think it’s stereotyping said it’s normally urban youth who wear hoodies, so it is discriminating against them. Some people agree that not everyone who wears a hood is a criminal; however, they say removing the garment upon entering a business would make them feel more safe as customers.
“It’s a good thing because nowadays, you never know what’s going on, what might happen…It would make me feel comfortable,” shopper Porsche Black said.
Some business owners who aren’t posting the sign said it could be hard to enforce and think it could hurt business. A clerk at one local convenience store said even with the sign she has still been held up at gunpoint.