St. Louis has had its share of newsworthy events this year, but a recent crime wave at local stores has made storeowners get creative in their efforts to take more precautions. And now they're getting heat for it.
Local Family Dollar stores have decided to clamp down on hooded jackets by posting this sign on some of their store windows:
At face value, the sign seems innocent enough. Store owners have recently dealt with a senseless shooting and robberies at two store locations, and asking patrons to remove their hoods before entering seems like it'd be better for security camera profiles. Family Dollar stores and other discount merchandise stores also struggle with shoplifting and may need to identify offenders on surveillance camera.
On Twitter, some agree with the stores' request:
But Family Dollar headquarters doesn't feel the same way. While there's no general rule like this that's supported by the company, localized notices are troubling for the back office suits-and-ties. According to KMOV:
The Family Dollar headquarters was initially unaware of the hood ban and has begun an internal investigation into the matter.
“It is not Company policy to ask our customers to remove hoods or sweatshirts before entering our stores,” said Public & Media Relations Manager Bryn R. Winburn of Family Dollar.
The issue? Some customers believe that the new rule is discriminatory. They feel that if there's no intention to do a crime, there shouldn't be a rule imposed to limit what you wear on your head. Since when did hoodies become a black-or-white thing?
For purposes of context, it's important to note that hooded sweatshirts gained notoriety after the Trayvon Martin case and athletes started making political statements with their hoods up. Miami Heat star Dywane Wade did it:
And the rest of his Miami Heat team followed suit:
The hoodie became a symbol. But, even still, the question remains: is the hoodie a black-and-white thing?
At the very least, it's an attempt to ensure store patrons can be seen clearly as they walk through the store.
So, “racist”? Maybe not. Twitter users tend to agree:
To some degree, it's the media's fault for pushing the hoodie-race agenda on the world. According to the Maynard Institute, “rightly or wrongly, the hoodie has become identified with crime.” It's become a calling card for pundits and it's helped spark the race debate in recent major news cycles.
The Family Dollar store news comes on the heels of a bill that's being drummed up in Oklahoma. In effect, the proposed bill would ban wearing hoodies in public places—unless it's a government-sponsored event, Halloween, parties, or for religious reasons.
It's important also to note that all Americans have been subjected to dress codes for entering nearly every store and restaurant: “no shirt, no shoes, no service.” In addition, there are restaurants that even go so far as forcing patrons to wear a jacket, shirt and tie. Dress codes are nothing new for people to enter private establishments. Many banks have rules posted on their entrances stating that hats and sunglasses are prohibited.
Regardless of the arguments surrounding the sign, the maelstrom surrounding the Family Dollar store policy seemingly forced the local store owners' hands: The signs in question have been taken down.
Note: This article was edited for content after publication.