This evening I was nearly arrested for simply taking street and landscape photos at a local Town Center mall here in Jacksonville Florida. I took my wife Nancy to the mall to meet one of her friends for dinner and to do some shopping. I’m not a fan of the mall so I decided to bring my camera along to pass the time. Since I’m a photographer I usually have a camera with me at all times. I happened to have my Fujifilm x70 camera with me for this visit. For those of you who don’t know the Town Center mall is basically an outdoor mall with shops that are connected via roadways and sidewalks. I have actually captured some pretty amazing photos at this location before.
I should also preface this article by stating that I am a street photographer which is characterized as a genre of photography which captures everyday moments on the streets which happens to include people in candid moments. While my wife was having dinner and shopping I walked around the mall with my x70 capturing candid moments as well as the sun setting over some of the buildings which was absolutely gorgeous.
Knowing my wife was going to be a while and the fact that my stomach was starting to yell at me in an unknown language I decided to get something to eat. One of my favorite places to eat is called Annie’s Pretzels. I purchased a couple of pretzel dogs and a water and sat down in one of the chairs next to a small pond. This area of the mall is always crowded with families and kids playing near the water. I even noticed one small girl sipping her soda and then proceeding to spit it at the fish in the water.
A few minutes after I had finished eating my dinner I noticed several mall security surrounding me as if I had just robbed one of the stores at gun point. I was stunned and shocked at the same time. I had absolutely no idea what was going on. One of the security personal proceeded to ask if I was taking photos of little kids in the area. I was shocked, horrified and humiliated at the same time. My immediate response was to simply say that I was absolutely not taking photos of little kids. They proceeded to inform that the mall was private property and that no photos were allowed. He also informed me that a store manager had filed a complaint about me taking photos of children. The mall cop then abruptly and loudly asked me to put my camera away and leave.
Although they asked me to leave it wasn’t that simple for me since my wife was still with her friend and I had no clue exactly where at the mall she was located. A little background about my wife for those of you who don’t know. She has muscular dystrophy and can’t walk and she can’t drive which means that she needs someone to drive her where she needs and/or wants to go. I did take my camera back to the car but I had to then locate my wife so we could leave. The mall security was going to have me detained by the police for not leaving until I informed them about my wife and that I needed to drive her home.
I have never been so humiliated in all of my life. Being accused of doing something so heanious as preying on little kids and being a pedophile is something that I never thought would happen to me by simply taking a few photos at a local mall. I actually feel like I can never go back there and I did absolutely nothing wrong. The security could have done a much better job at handling the situation.
They could have simply explained that it was private property and politely ask me to put my camera away which I would have done. However, they chose to humiliate and embarrass me in front of dozens of people who were standing around watching. The event is still fresh in my mind and my emotions are all over the place so I’m not sure what action I will be taking as a result of this harassment. I’m seriously considering taking legal action or maybe even contacting the local news. If I do decide to take action against the mall I will write another article keeping everyone up to date on the situation.