November 29, 2006
It's a place to shop...but some people who shop at the Augusta Mall say security there discriminates.
Now the NAACP is involved, and Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength is launching an investigation into how it was handled.
Sherille Buoy was one of ten people from the well known musical group Creative Impressions who decided to hit the mall for an afternoon of eating and shopping on Saturday.
In the end, Sherille ended up in handcuffs.
20-year-old college sophomore Sherille Buoy still has questions about the citation she received for disorderly conduct and her arrest at the Augusta Mall on Saturday.
"It seemed like they were picking on us," she told News 12.
Sherille is a member of the popular local musical group creative impressions.
She says a group of ten members decided to go to the mall after practice, and from the time they set foot in the door they were being harassed by mall security.
"Every time we came out of a store, a security guard was waiting."
In an email to the NAACP, the director of Creative Impressions calls it a "True story of Trouble" at the Augusta Mall, one where certain groups are stereotyped and discriminated against.
"In Augusta or any other area, the NAACP is not going to tolerate anyone's civil rights being violated in a mall where we are shopping," said Dr. Charles Smith, president of the Augusta NAACP.
Sherille says throughout the shopping experience, mall security told the group of ten to split into three groups, to keep walking, and to not stop in the walkway.
Finally security asked Sherille where she was parked. When she inquired about the question, mall security called Richmond County officers who work the mall.
Deputies handed her a list of rules and regulations.
"I said, 'Which one did we take action in? Can you highlight which one we did?' and he grabbed my arm like this, and he was like, 'Come talk to me over there.' And I said, 'Why? We are all together.'"
Sherille says her questioning upset one of the officers.
"The other cop was like, 'You know what? You don't talk to a cop like that. You bow down to a cop.'"
And while her arrest is upsetting, Sherille hopes it sends a message.
"I am just trying to push for every other black person to mind our business so we can shop."
Sherille Buoy will appear in court December 21 for the citation deputies issued to her. The Augusta Mall also banned her for three months.
A news release sent to News 12 by Augusta Mall says the group blocked walkways. The releases states that when the group wouldn't cooperate, the mall asked them to leave, and when they refused, that's when the mall called in a Richmond County sheriff's deputy.
Augusta Mall says they handed the group a card with their policies. The card says the following will not be accepted:
- Violations of the Law
- Any activity that threatens the safety of our guests, tenants, and/or employees
- Any activity that threatens the well being of the property
- Any activity that disrupts our pleasant, family oriented shopping environment
- Any activity that is inconsistent with the general purpose of the property, which is shopping, dining, or visiting the offices for business purposes
- Any activity whose nature would tend to disrupt the legitimate business of the property and its tenants
The group of teenagers says they got the policy, but weren't sure which rule they were breaking.