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News :: Human Rights
Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
17 Aug 2005
The war on youth by the bosses and their agents in the United States is waged through many forms of state repression including police occupation of their communities and the super-exploitation of their labor power.

Another form of repression that’s increasing, especially at a time of increased youth rebellion to Pentagon recruitment and other attacks-is the abolition of, or restricting of access to, public or defacto public spaces.
Mall owners wage assault on freedom of assembly

On July 13 the Pyramid Management Group, owners of the Ingleside Mall in Holyoke, Massachusetts issued a statement that, effective Sept. 9, 2005, the mall will bar those under 18 if they are not accompanied by an adult over 21 on Friday and Saturday between 4 p.m. and closing time.

Teenage workers at the mall will not be subject to this policy.

This policy will be enforced by the hiring of 30 additional security officers that will guard mall entrances and the entrances to every anchor store. As customers enter there will be “greeters” informing them of the policy. If the individual doesn’t have the proper ID, they may be asked to leave the mall (www.masslive.com).

Established in 1970, the Syracuse, New York-based Pyramid owns 20 malls in Massachusetts and New York, the most densely populated and affluent area of the United States. It has approximately $5 billion in annual sales (www.pyramidmg.com).

Pyramid has only implemented its new policy in its mall locations near or in cities with high percentages of people of color and high poverty rates.

According to 2000 Census Bureau statistics, in Holyoke, the poorest city in Massachusetts, Latin@s are over 50 percent of the population and those under 18 make up 30 percent of the total population. In Syracuse and Buffalo malls, where similar policies are in place, statistics are similar, although with a higher Black population (www.census.gov).

In cities where Pyramid hasn’t implemented its policy, the local population is predominantly white and the poverty rates are much lower.
These cities include Hadley, Massachusetts where whites make up 96 percent of the population; Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 92 percent white; and Plymouth where the Independence Mall caters to tourists going to Plymouth, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, is 93 percent white. The poverty rates in these cities are all at or below 11 percent.

On August 1, Mountain Development Corporation followed Pyramid’s lead by issuing a similar policy but one that bars unescorted teens under 15 after 5 p.m. every day at its Eastfield Mall near Springfield, Massachusetts and only a few miles from Holyoke. Springfield is 20 percent Black and 27 percent Latin@ and has a 23 percent federal poverty level (www.census.gov).

“It’s devastating how so many rules and so many people seem to be against young people. This is age discrimination. It takes away another right that young people should have… The mall is such a huge place for teenagers, from a social standpoint… There aren’t enough safe hangouts or drop-in centers for us to go,” said teenager Mary Jo Pham in a newspaper opinion poll regarding these policies (www.masslive.com).

These new policies, the first in Massachusetts, began in 1996 at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota near Minneapolis. They are increasing across the country and are standard policy at many of the 1,100 malls in the U.S., claims the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Youth and allies fight back

Despite the arrogance of mall owners and bosses like William J. Rogalski, general manager at Ingleside who said July 13 “We won’t change our mind,” youth and their allies are fighting back.

Upon hearing of the new policies, 15-year-old Machael A. Lemme who lives in nearby Chicopee, began a petition July 13 demanding the repeal of the policy. His father and over 1,100 others have signed on. See www.petitionspot.com/petitions/holyokemall.

Other actions are being considered by area youth and progressive organizations including possible boycotts, pickets and/or sit-ins.

-- 30 --

See also: http://boston.indymedia.org/feature/display/39810/index.php.

Union labor donated.

This work is in the public domain.
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Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
16 Aug 2005
Any 21+ people want to take a few hundred kids to the mall with me?
Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
16 Aug 2005
I'll do it.
Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
17 Aug 2005
First off, in your leftist mindset, isn't the mall doing these kids a favor by denying them access to all the Gaps and Starbucks you Indymedia types so virulently hate?
Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
17 Aug 2005
Aren't Malls generally not owned by the government, hence making it not public property?

This artilce leaves out the Mall's side...why are they wanting kids accompanied by adults? Have there been problems? This article is not an example of journalism, but pushing ones agenda by means of spin.

Malls are a place to buy items from the stores within, not a hangout for those who need to waste some time. Many other businesses post "no loitering" signs, why can't a mall?
Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
18 Aug 2005
ok, thi sucks that kids can't hang out at the mall, but seriously, isn't it better if no one goes to the mall? maybe this will get kids thinking on how to have fun without going to the mall. i myself have never gone to the mall as a social event, and i don't particularly want to, and i think these kids will live. it is a disgusting policy however.
Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
18 Aug 2005
There is no freedom of assembly in a privately operated mall.
Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
18 Aug 2005
It certainly would probably be better if people of all ages got away from those vast cathedrals of consumerism, shopping malls. These decisions could come back to haunt mall owners however, as future shoppers won't be properly indoctrinated in the culture of consumerism. This really appears to be more of a class issue anyway, as merchants don't mind consumers of any age as long as they have $ to spend. It's also a public issue of sorts as malls, as they were first conceived in the 50's were indeed intended to be public spaces open to all and towns granted them building permits and zoning approval based on that premise. Now that they're entrenched malls appear to be retreating from these earlier promises and becoming laws unto themselves. This is indeed a worrying trend.
Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
19 Aug 2005
Sid is right - the Supreme Court has heard cases on this issue before (the case's name eludes me, but it involved a group wanting to unionize who was not allowed to protest in a mall).

The way to protest this, if you so desire, is to not shop at the mall. There is no "right to free speech" on private property absent very, very limited circumstances (e.g. an old style company town) that aren't present here.
Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
20 Aug 2005
"Freedom Of Assembly" on private property.

You've got to be fucking kidding me. And you expect ordinary people to read this crap and join your movement?
isolated from what is commonly known as, "reality."
21 Aug 2005
i dont see what this has to do with "youth rebellion to pentagon recruitment."

stuff was getting stolen from the mall, i think. no need to break out the balaklavas and spray paint.

it never fails to amaze me that people cant understand the fact that they will never convince people of anything if their idea of journalism is to spout off knee-jerk, over-the-top, obviously stilted rhetoric. the author of this post is making it sound like some secret society of racist, pentagon backed "mall bosses" is trying to, like, crack down on freedom of speech, when in fact it sounds like a bunch of businessmen trying to deal with some problems theyre having in one of their malls.

regardless of whether or not its a good idea to restrict youth access to a mall, this post is a joke. why dont you go to holyoke and asks some of the kids hanging around in the malls how they feel about, "rebellion to Pentagon recruitment and other attacks," or if they just feel like eating at papa ginos and buying some expensive sweaters at the gap on a friday night.
Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
22 Aug 2005
There is no freedom of assembly on someone else's private property.

Can anyone march into your bedroom anytime they please? No, and for good reason.

If you disagree, can I have your home address? I'd like to hold a rally there.
Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
22 Aug 2005
this is not anyone's home, this is a public space, and yes you can hold public assemblies on commercial streets in business districts and no you likewise should not be barred from holding political assemblies in mall areas, which is a different style of "business district" but through which the public may pass without forfeiting their civil liberties or allowing a mall to become a law unto itself; towns approving mall construction should ensure this.
Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
22 Aug 2005
<i> through which the public may pass without forfeiting their civil liberties or allowing a mall to become a law unto itself; towns approving mall construction should ensure this.</i>

though this is formally worded, it has nothing to do with the actual law, and is complete malarkey. a mall is private property, through which the public may pass. they dont foreit their civil liberties, but neither are the civil liberties of the mall owners forfeited, i.e., they are not obliged to allow rallies or demonstrations, and can similarly bar entry to whoever they like, so long as it not based on improper (racial, gender, ethnicity, religion) discrimination.
Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
23 Aug 2005
A mall is not "public space". It's privately owned and financed.

If they wanted to, they could station a bouncer at the door and make it "members only" or kick people out for not wearing suits and ties.

Just like your own home, they owners are free to decide whom they want to allow in. Period.

There is no first amendment argument here.
Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
24 Aug 2005
That policy is unfair to those young adults who go to malls to have an honestly good time. Also, the placement of this policy at malls in urban areas are targeting those young citizens while overlooking the caucasian neighborhoods.
Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
24 Aug 2005
Who said it's supposed to be "fair"?

It's a business. Their only goal is to give their investors a return. Everything else is irrelevant.

What your goal should be, is to tie their investors' returns to what you consider to be good corporate behavior. You can influence the market so that it's in the mall's best interest to abandon this policy.

Personally, I've got better uses for my time. But go knock yourself out.
Re: Youth and allies defy mall owners assault on freedom of assembly
24 Aug 2005
In a 1980 case Robins vs. Pruneyard Shopping Center, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that First Amendment free speech rights do not insure popular access to private property for the exercise of publically protected free speech. Importantly, however, the Court specifically called attention to the opportunity, under this country's federal form of government, for indiviual state constitutions to safeguard freedom of speech on mall private property. Several stste supreme courts have since reviewed this issue. California and New Jersey have established the fullest access policies. In a 1987 California Supreme Court decision, H-CHH Associates v. Citizens for Representative Government, the court ruled that malls requiring groups seeking to use their space for public free speech activities to purchase expensive insurance first, created an unlawful barrier against free expression ;and required a checklist of conditions that must be met before malls can impose such a requirement. A decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2000 in the case Green Party of New Jersey v. Hartz Mountain Industries, Inc. ruled once again, as it had previously, that malls could not ban groups and indiviuals partaking in "non-commercial expressive activity". Four other states including Massachusetts, so far, have set out more curtailed access rights, protecting specific efforts such as voter registration or signature gathering on ballot iinitiatives. Some states have decided against free speech on private property and some other states have rendered no such definitive decisions, yet. Further, union activities come under federal labor law and have different criteria. Yes, free speech can be barred in malls in different states in different ways - but no - it doesn't have to be that way. There is scope in state legislatures and courts - as well, as through referendum questions - to change that through political activism. And that is exactly what must be done.
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10 Jun 2006
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