The signs, pictured above, read: “DO NOT ENTER WITH HOODIE OR MASK/IF SO YOU ARE NOW TRESPASSING.” They are intended to deter masked shoplifters or robbers — who are often difficult to identify because their faces are hidden on security footage — from entering stores.
After Myrtle Grocery was robbed by a gunman on Oct. 5, employee Ayesh Shami supports the sign because the policy enables cameras to capture the faces of its store occupants:
There was security footage of the robber but the suspect’s face was not visible under the mask.
“What happened here was the worst I have seen in my 25 years working in this area,” Shami said. “And the guy was so hard to catch because of his mask.
“Cameras are no good,” he added.
But the hoodie has also become a symbol for solidarity after George Zimmerman shot and killed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin — whose only crime was wearing a hoodie and being black. Many people feel that enforcing a “no hoodies” policy will result in more targeting and profiling:
“I’m tired of people of color being viewed as criminals for wearing hoodies,” said Andrew Padilla, who noticed signs around 160th Street and Amsterdam in Washington Heights. “If wearing a hoodies makes you a criminal I should’ve been locked up years ago.”
It’s possible that the signs are an added precaution for Halloween, a time when storeowners reportedly see an increase in criminal activity. But don’t count on the signs going away anytime soon– the sign’s creator, Philadelphia man Joe Stark, is reportedly about to launch a security company and he’s already sold a couple of thousand of the signs to shops in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
(Photo: El Barrio Tours)