A mini shopping spree won’t be enough to entice Demetriana Miles back to Arden Fair mall after police removed her, reportedly after a crop top “malfunction” exposed a portion of her bra.
Miles said she picked up a $350 gift card from mall management this week, but said she’d be too uncomfortable to shop at the center after being removed July 1 over her shirt. Once she exited the mall, Miles said she was so upset she flashed the officers.
Miles, 20, was shopping with her mother and young brother, when a guard approached her. Miles’ crop top somehow revealed the bottom of her bra, according to Miles.
“My bra wasn’t supposed to be showing. It was just a malfunction with my outfit,” Miles, a junior at Hampton University in Virginia, said Friday. “Once he told me, I pulled my shirt down and fixed it.”
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The Sacramento Police Department, however, offered a different account, saying that a female police officer on duty at the mall noticed that a portion of Miles’ breasts were showing and that she was not wearing a bra, a violation of the mall’s dress code.
“Almost half of her breasts were exposed while she was inside the mall,” said Officer Linda Matthew, a department spokeswoman.
The guard then asked Miles to change her shirt or leave the mall, according to Miles. She assured the guard that she would purchase a new shirt.
But Miles said she noticed that many other girls were “wearing next to nothing,” yet were given a pass by mall security.
“The second time he approached me, I was in the food court,” she said. “I wasn’t going to change my clothes if the rules weren’t being enforced equally.”
Miles said the unidentified security guard continued to follow her, before Sacramento police officers arrived to escort the family outside.
“It was either leave or get put back in the back of a police car,” Miles said.
Once she exited the shopping center, police said Miles lifted her shirt completely and exposed bare breasts.
Miles insists that she was wearing a bra, “even if I did flash” them, she said.
“It was a fleeting moment for me,” said Miles. “I felt like I was being bullied.”
Miles, who is African American and of a larger size, accused the mall of discrimination, saying that other slimmer, white females wearing “little crop tops that were very tight under their breasts and really short shorts” did not invoke the wrath of security.
Spokesman Nathan Spradlin confirmed that Miles received a gift card, but did not say whether Miles was wearing a bra.
“It’s not our place to be the fashion police,” said Spradlin. “Our actions were not the best actions to take.”
Steve Reed, the former longtime head of security at Arden Fair, said he has encountered guests with all kinds of undergarments showing, as well as girls wearing bikinis.
“Everything is on camera in that mall,” said Reed, who installed 224 cameras worth $2 million during his 15-year tenure. “If I have wind of any complaints, I would say look at the video. I would let reporters see it.”
Asked about any surveillance footage, Spradlin said in a written statement, “no video footage exists that gives credence to any viewpoint.” He declined to let a Sacramento Bee reporter see the tapes.
Arden Fair’s code of conduct notes that guests can be asked to leave if they fail “to be fully clothed (including wearing pants in a manner that exposes undergarments or skin to view).” The mall has wide latitude to make and enforce its own rules, since it is a private business.
Last year, management implemented a blanket teenager ban on certain busy days – a policy that drew the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union. Some patrons, however, alleged that security officers unfairly targeted African American teens and gave a pass to white teens. While Mayor Darrell Steinberg asked city attorney James Sanchez to investigate the policy, Sanchez determined that the city had no authority to intervene.
Spradlin said mall management is evaluating whether to overhaul the dress code, which also bans hooded sweatshirts.