ROSS TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) — An African-American security guard is wondering if he was racially profiled by Ross Park Mall security last night when they stopped him on his way to work.READ MORE: Local Police Departments Team Up To Enforce Pedestrian Traffic Laws
It was just after 7:30 p.m. Thursday night when Chris Sellers was stopped on the upper level of the mall as he was walking to his security job at Louis Vuitton.
“I was approached by one of the mall securities and he asked me if I was security,” Sellers says. “I said yes, and he said, ‘I can’t let you walk through the mall with the uniform on. You’re going to have to take it off.’”
Sellers says he was told it’s against mall policy to wear a security uniform in the mall because it can confuse customers who might think that person is a mall security guard.
The guard suggested Sellers put on his jacket to cover the uniform, but the jacket was also a patched security jacket. So Sellers asked to see the supervisor who arrived a few minutes later.
“He asked me if I had a t-shirt on, and then I replied ‘Why?'” Sellers explains. “He said, ‘So you can strip down to your t-shirt.’ And I said, ‘No, that’s just not going to happen.’”
Sellers tells KDKA’s John Schumway that although he’s lived in Pittsburgh for a few years, he was in Baltimore during the racial tensions there. When the mall supervisor suggested he strip down to his t-shirt, Sellers says, “So much anger took over me at that point. And I didn’t want Baltimore coming out of me, so I just … It was coming, so I left them.”
Sellers says he had called his supervisor, who told him to just get to the store. So he walked away from the mall guards.READ MORE: Just Hanging Out: Butler County Man Twice Catches Bear On Camera In His Yard
But the guards followed him, and when Sellers arrived at his job there were more guards and two Ross Township police officers. “The police officers never once said anything to me at all,” Sellers says.
The Louis Vuitton manager defused the situation with mall security and Sellers worked his shift.
“I don’t want to believe that I was racially profiled,” he says. “I don’t want to believe that, but that’s what it’s kind-of looking like.”
He feels that way, in part, because he says he pointed out to the guards that another non-mall security guard — a white female — was also walking around in uniform. But, “he didn’t even look her way,” Sellers says.
Sellers says he’s been working jobs at Ross Park Mall for over a year and never had an issue until Thursday night. He says he doesn’t understand and wants an apology.
“It was a mess … I just shouldn’t have been treated like that,” Sellers says.
The security guard has since been suspended.
Allied Universal issued the following statement Thursday night:MORE NEWS: Pennsylvania Ending Extended Jobless Benefits, Unemployment Rate Falls Below 5%
“Allied Universal profusely apologizes for this unfortunate incident on Thursday evening. Our security guard acted in complete error and this employee has been suspended and removed from duty at this site. We are working with all parties involved to resolve this issue.”