Being Black in the Mall During the Holiday Season. A New Crime

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Christmas Day is right around the corner and much of the world is trying to collect a bit of holiday cheer despite the circumstances surrounding 2020. And with delivery times of packages being upended by the surge of COVID-19 vaccinations being shipped, what better way to ensure you get gifts for your loved ones than by taking a socially-distant stroll through your local mall with your family?

Unless of course, you’re a Black man sitting in a mall food court that just so happens to fit the description of a criminal suspect.

A Virginia Beach police officer confronted a Black man eating with his family on Dec. 19 in the food court of Lynnhaven Mall. In a now-viral video, the unnamed man is approached by the officer and asked to place his hands behind his back while he is questioning why he is being placed under arrest.

According to The Virginia-Pilot, police escorted the man outside after deciding that he fit the description of a “Black male with dreads that was wearing all black and was with a boy wearing red.”

Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate said that the situation will be reviewed to “determine the propriety of the response in this matter.”

“Certainly, anyone would be upset about being detained for something they didn’t do,” Neudigate said in a statement.

“While the video shows the officer stayed calm and respectful throughout the brief encounter, we must ensure the situation merits the response. We are gathering all the facts to evaluate the incident so we can address the concerns people have raised.”

Regardless of the officer’s “calm and respectful” demeanor, the humiliation endured by this man who was out with his family is irreversible. An indelible holiday memory has seared into the consciousness of his loved ones because a law enforcement officer could not divorce himself from typecasting this Black man from any other Black male suspect.

Sadly, we have to be thankful things did not end up worse.

About the Author

Donney Rose is a poet, essayist, Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, advocate, and Chief Content Editor at The North Star. He believes in telling how it is and how it should be