Monday, May 25, 2009

Phipps Plaza Debacle

On a recent trip to Phipps Plaza, I was shamefully treated by Simon Properties employees, Brown & Company Jewelers, and the Atlanta Police Department. ( Lower right: Asst. Director Public Safety Curtis A. Pulliam)

On my way to purchase a Theory suit from Saks, I decided to snap a photograph of the new retail space occupied by Brown & Company. I pulled out my iPhone to take a picture of the exterior of the store. The next thing I knew, someone from Brown & Company jumped up from her desk, ran out to where I was standing, and screamed at me. "What do you think you doing taking pictures of my store? What are those pictures for? You'd better stop taking pictures!" Stunned, I answered "for my personal use," not giving it a thought because it is something I had never been questioned for doing before. Suddenly, the police officer from within the store approached me in the same manner and said, "You better stop taking those pictures or I am going to arrest you!" At this point, my mouth had fallen to the floor in disbelief. I could not believe that I might be arrested for casually taking a picture in the mall. I asked why I couldn't take pictures, and the officer informed me that it was against mall policy. Still in disbelief, I asked to see the policy and informed both the police officer and the employee that I would delete the photos as soon as I saw the policy because I was unaware of it. Moments later, another Atlanta police officer, W. Crossen, approached me with SIMON employee (mall cop) Mathew Lewis. Officer Crossen demanded to see my ID. Meanwhile, mall cop Lewis radioed others about the situation. I told mall cop Lewis that I would gladly delete the photos upon seeing the policy. He informed me that he would be taking me to the posted policy. At this point, with my ID in the possession of officer Crossen, I was taken down the elevator to P2. On the elevator ride, mall cop Lewis said "We will be escorting you off the property immediately." Other mall shoppers were watching the entire ordeal on the elevator as well. We reach P2 and I was shown the policy. I was asked by mall cop Lewis how I came to the mall today, by MARTA or by car. I informed him that my friend had driven (Mark Edge), but had parked on P3. I then asked for each of their names. Crossen responded by saying "Here is my name tag, if you are even capable of spelling." After recording their names, mall cop Lewis exclaimed that it was taking too long for my friend to arrive. “This is taking too long. You are coming with us to the security headquarters.” As I sat there, Crossen asked that I give him my ID again. Lewis began to fill out paperwork as Crossen treated me like a common criminal asking absurd questions and belittling me. "Do you even have a high school diploma?" I informed Crossen that I was a GSU student. "Must not take much effort then to get accepted. What do your parents do anyway?" My Dad has been in the military for 23 years, I told Crossen. "They obviously didn't know how to raise you." At this point I was infuriated. I can't remember all of the derogatory and belittling statements made by mall cop Lewis and officer Crossen. Every other word included some smart comment calling me uneducated and stupid. I was then firmly asked by mall Cop Lewis to sign a document. I demanded to know what I was signing and said that I would require a copy. He said that a copy would not be made available and that I'd better sign it. At this point, officer Crossen demanded that I sign it or he would arrest me for non-compliance with authority.

Curtis A. Pulliam, SIMON Properties Assistant Director of Public Safety entered the room. He also demanded that I sign. As I look over the document, I notice that it has my Dad's name instead of mine, apparently because the ID I provided was my military ID with my father's name as well as mine. They did not even know whom they were detaining, but I am the one lacking a high school diploma! I continue reading to learn that I am banned from Phipps Plaza for a year (well, actually my Dad is). Finally, Pulliam makes a copy and I sign. I unlocked my iPhone, deleted the pictures I had taken, as Pulliam looked over my shoulder. Another mall cop snapped my picture. I grabbed my copy and headed for the car.

I am requesting a written letter of apology from SIMON Property Group and re-admittance to Phipps Plaza so I can continue to be a law-abiding citizen and once again stimulate the economy.
- Caleb J. Spivak



UPDATE: As of May 26th, 5:30 pm, Phipps Plaza General Manager, Dewayne Herbert called me on my personal cell phone to asses the situation. He apologized and made clear that the ban placed on me from admittance to Phipps Plaza would be removed.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

OMG that is so crazy, with all the tourists in ATL I never heard of not taking pictures of a store!! Should I post the 100's of pics I take on my vacations that have stores in them, yikes Simon get over yourselves!

rob02190 said...

I had a similar situation in downtown Atlanta when I was photographing architecture. I had taken a few photographs of a build which sat on a adjacent lot to the Social Security offices, when I was detained for 20 minutes by a Federal officer while he ran my ID. The officer that I had dealing with was polite, no film or photos were confiscated. I recommend this website to all photographers, its called Photographers Rights and was created by attorney Bert Krages here is the link http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

Laura Folio said...

Wow, sometimes I feel a little awkward taking random photos for my site but I never dreamed it could turn in to something like this!

Brooke Cynthia Novak said...

Did they ever show the mall's photo policy???

Anonymous said...

Many we should just get a big group of people and run down to the mall and all start snapping pictures. They might be forced to call in the national guard to maintain order and "security".

The Repeatant said...

Brooke-

They showed me the policy but had already decided they were going to ban me as a 'trespasser.' The policy is posted on a wall in the parking garage, and as promised, I deleted the photos and apologized! However, that is beside the fact. By all means, if that is the policy, I will oblige, which I did. The manner in which I was treated was unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

You should consider submitting your story to the Consumerist.com, as any story featured there always gets the attention of the big companies like SIMON Properties.

Anonymous said...

land of the "free", eh?

wow, what a bunch of mall douche bags with nothing better to do.

Anonymous said...

Wow, as a designer i routinly snap cell phone camera shots as a reminder of things i love, things i'm inspired by, things that i want to remember to buy, things that i think a freind shoud buy or things that i want a friend to buy!! Wow it appears that Phipps Plaza is in the dark ages with technology and the way consumers shop these days. Shame on you Simom!!!

Anonymous said...

People, I cant totally see this happening. First you have the uneducated mall cop, feeling all self important after the recent movies by the same name.

I understand why storefronts dont want you taking pictures. Partially due to safety (ie bombs and burgurlary) and also to prevent giving competitors a heads up on whats going on.

Simon has this policy to protect retailers in this regard. So that part makes sense.

The bottom line is, give a dim-wit a little power, and they are likely to abuse it. Sorry you had to go thru that, and love your blog. Scott

Anonymous said...

what a ridiculous thing for Phipps Plaza to do. Have they not gotten the memo that luxury retail is in the toilet and that merchants need business more than ever!!

They should buy you that suit!!

Anonymous said...

The woman that jumped up and started screaming at you is a prize idiot in my book....get a life you old battle axe!

Anonymous said...

I'd share the story with CBS Atlanta. They seem to enjoy covering stories like yours. Additionally, why can cops not behave? Let alone the pathetic rent a cops, who could have just as easily been flipping burgers.

The Repeatant said...

Scott-

First let me say that I love the neutrality in your comment. Great way at looking at both sides of the story (which I also did). I clearly understand the policy and why its enforced. The fact of the matter is, I ceased and deleted the pictures as soon as this was made aware.

I am upset and sharing my story acknowledging that what I did was against policy. I claim ignorance because I was unaware. The way I was treated was unacceptable and thats the substance behind this debacle.

Anonymous said...

hey that's why you dont go to a douchetastic place like phipps ya douche :)

Ed Selby said...

so exactly what was theposted "policy"?

Ten Ox said...

A case recently decided about false arrest in the Georgia Appeals court is very similar in that an employee fingered the wrong two people as having run out on a dinner check to the local Police. They chased the girls down and arrested them, even though they were able to show their paid receipt. Anyway it was false arrest and it cost the company bigtime: they failed to train their employee, they felt they had no need to. They also supported her accusation and fought the issue, without any legs to stand on. Finally, these were two young girls, who were basically kidnapped by the cops at gunpoint, taken somewhere, arrested, lied to, coerced into all kinds of things.

Companies that act like this need a spanking, seriously. They need their dirty laundry held up in public, they need to apologize, they need to pay a little bit of moola, and they need to fire all the employees concerned. It should not be their policy to act in bad ways as long as they can get away with it. It's just not American! Seriously, this is like storm-trooper tactics.

I would pursue the issue: the fact that mall management is now backpedaling shows how far out they know their butts are hanging. Will the mall cops frighten someone to death next time? Or beat them down???

Anonymous said...

Add to that being forced to sign something against your will. Certainly you could get a lawyer or you could just get SIMON Properties to apologize and perhaps a little more...

The Repeatant said...

Ed-

There is a policy and it is posted several places on Mall Property (which I now know). They reserve that right because it is private property.

After speaking with general manager Dewayne Herbert , he made clear that pictures can be taken of common areas or from areas not on property without consent. For example. If Im on the public side walk on the street in front of Phipps Plaza, I can take pictures. However, retailers can reserve that right to question a photographer and request that he/she receives prior approval. That, Dewayne Herbert says, is as easy as asking the store owner or general manager. If you refer to the link rob02190 posted, I think that should clear up any confusion with photo rights (great link by the way rob02190. I checked it out and found it very useful!)

Having said that, how the store owner approaches you and questions you is another story. In my case, the said owner of Brown and Company missed the memo about the recession and treating everyone like a potential customer.

The Repeatant said...

Almost forgot:

To the anonymous poster:

"hey that's why you dont go to a douchetastic place like phipps ya douche :)"

Touché, anonymous poster, touché!

Anonymous said...

Even if it is a mall "policy" seems like a ridiculously stupid waste of resources to enforce it. I mean, come on, don't these cops have better things to do... like watching out for muggings or shoplifting?

Seems very backwards and small town IMHO, like Barney Fife & Co. Idiots with a badge on a power trip. Simply pathetic.

mallcop said...

Was any of that worth the trouble? You could have easily been on your way to buy a Theory suit at Saks if you had just apologized and explained why you were taking the pictures. The store manager even said it would have been no problem if you had just asked her.
As for me, I wasn't rude to you at all during any of this. I even almost respected you for standing up for what you believed was right except that you were wrong and refused to admit it. The worst thing I said to you was that I couldn't believe the police didn't arrest you for the way you were acting towards them. I still stand by that comment. Congratulations on getting the mall manager to apologize and revoke the ban. I definitely don't agree with that decision but respect it. He has pressures from corporate management to try to reverse the negative publicity.
I have no hard feelings from any of this even after the number of times you called me mall cop Lewis in your blog. As for all of your readers who made the stereotypical comments about me calling me a rent-a-cop, an uneducated dimwit, and so on and so forth, I go to the same school as Mr. Spivak and have been there longer which technically makes me more educated than you. I am also from the same area of middle georgia. I even worked on Robins Air Force Base where your dad works. I honestly felt it was a shame the way you acted and felt it reflected negatively on myself. Believe it or not, but I do actually have better things to do than to argue about pictures. It was a waste of my time to have to deal with someone who should have known better, who should have known how to behave in public, and who should have to known how to speak respectfully to a law enforcement officer. It's one thing to talk to security that way, but the cops? C'mon man... Good luck in the future and I hope you get your suit.
By the way, Brown and Co is a temporary space where they only buy gold due to the current high price of gold. They're about to open up a new, free standing store in Buckhead in the near future. I wouldn't recommend going into any jewelry store anywhere in the manner you did. How else would you expect them to act?

mallcop said...

I wouldn't normally respond to this, but there are many inaccuracies in your story. First of all, you spelled my name wrong. I thought you would have at least gotten that right since you spent so much time writing it down. Secondly, my title is not mall cop; it's Public Safety Officer. Also, who's picture is that?! That's definitely not me.You're posting some poor guy's picture on your blog for no reason. Your story is drastically different than what actually happened, but that's understandable. You have to play the victim because you were "so mistreated." I get it. Now for how it really went: Housekeeping was cleaning right outside of that store when they saw you come up taking pictures of the outside. They said that you then walked inside like you owned the place and started taking pictures of everything. They said that the manager and police came out and told you you weren't allowed to take pictures and you flipped out. Housekeeping called security because they feared the safety of the women you were screaming at. I came up and you were still arguing with them. They told me that you were taking pictures without even acknowledging their presence or announcing yourself. They also said that you refused to delete the pictures and that you refused to tell them why you were taking the pictures. I wasn't even going to ask you to leave initially. I advised you of the mall's policy regarding pictures and agreed to show you the policy. I tried to get you to come with me so I could show it to you and remove you from the confrontation you had gotten yourself in. You wouldn't budge and then APD Crossen came. Crossen also works an extra job at Brown and Co. and knows all of the people you were being very rude to very well. When Crossen approached you, you were very rude to him as well and proceeded to cause a scene in the mall common area. At that point it was decided that we would escort you to your car so that you could leave. I asked you where you were parked so that we could take you to your car, but you refused to answer. We got on the elevator and you demanded to go to the mall management office and I told you that it was closed and that you could go to the security office. I asked you again where you were parked and you would not answer so we proceeded towards the office. I showed you the policy and then asked you again three separate times where you were parked and you refused to answer and made a show out of writing our names down. That's when I decided to issue you a criminal trespass warning. During that whole ordeal, you remained very uncooperative. I wrote down the information I was provided and told you to sign it. You asked what it was and I explained it very clearly to you. You demanded a copy and I told you I didn't have the capabilities of making you a copy. I also told you that you didn't have to sign it that I would just write "refused to sign" (hence the "Re" immediately before your signature). I started writing it and Pulliam stopped me and said he would make you a copy. We all signed and dated both copies and you were on your way. At no point did you say where your ride was, apologize, nor delete the photos. The pictures weren't deleted until Pulliam made you while I was finishing the paperwork.

Jonathan said...

The problem is not the policy. The problem is how everyone involved, including Phipps management, handled it. Especially if you made it clear that you were willing to follow the policy and were not beligerent.

What they did sounds borderline illegal and I'm going to assume that there were no actual Atlanta police officers involved.

The Repeatant said...

Jonathan-

Actually, the two officers who said thy were going to arrest me are two APD officers! W. Crossen and a female officer.

The Repeatant said...

Mr. Lewis:

In reference to your second comment:

Thanks for your responses. It is only fair that both sides of the story be told even those that are fabricated. Lets get right to it. First, where you claim that it should have never happened in the first place and that I should have just apologized, apologized for what? Shopping? Breathing? Casually taking photos? I had done nothing wrong. Second, as far as other readers comments are concerned, maybe that will teach you to treat people with more respect instead of belittling them and publicly humiliating them. This blog is a casual environment. Your job as a “Public Safety Officer” is just that, your job! If at ANY of the jobs I have ever held, I were rude and belittling toward a guest or client, I would have been fired on the spot! Take more pride in your job and treat people with more respect, whether I had been an A-list celebrity or a mall rat thug! Third, when you claim it was a waste of time, and you had better things to do, than you should have left it at that. Also, I am not from middle Georgia. My family and I lived there for three years. Finally, in regards to respect and authority, my Dad has been in the military for 23 years. I have the utmost respect for those uniformed officers who risk their lives everyday so that I can live freely in America. I even recall telling W. Crossen, “Officer Crossen, I respect you as a police officer, but come on, is all of this really necessary?”

To your first:

Imagine that, someone “walking into a store like they own the place.” Would it have been better for me to walk in secretively like I was going to rob it? Also, I admit that I flipped out, but even as you wrote, I’m sure you would flip out if two people approached you screaming, questioning your every move, and threatening to arrest you! In the same way housekeeping called for security, if this was at a place in which security was made available to me, I would have also called for backup in regards to my safety. That shouldn’t be the case! I am in a mall shopping. I should feel safe. As far as the parking situation was concerned, I was more than willing to leave. I told you over and over again that I had driven with a friend and he was in the mall shopping. I even got on my cell phone to call him. The problem, was though I informed you he was parked on P3, you took me to P2 where the security headquarters just happened to be. Hello! As soon as I arrived at the security headquarters, my friend was waiting outside to pick me up! Lets stop the BS! As far as the option to “refuse to sign,” that is false as well. I did refuse to sign, but you said “you can stay here all day if you have to, but believe me I would prefer you just sign so you can go on your way!”

Though I can go on and on about what is incorrect in almost everything you said, I wont. The bottom line: you and your fellow officers held me hostage in a parking deck, by myself! And for what, TAKING A PICTURE? I have every right to be upset. My rights were stripped and I was detained. End of.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the point of the picture in the first place... I never see any I-phone photos on this website (other than the disturbing guy with sunglasses on MARTA). Sounds to me like Caleb was getting mouthy and p*ssed somebody off. When dealing with strangers in a public place you never know what you are going to get. Some dogs like their head rubbed and some dogs bite. Thats why smart people mind their own business. Sad that what was once a website full of pertinent information (repeatatlanta) has turned into a cry-baby board that bashes retailers, developers, landlords and NOW Caleb's personal problems. It has gotten more caught up in "deathwatch" than giving good retail info. Caleb go have a Yogurberry at Hotel Indigo. Maybe the big bad "mall cops" will leave you alone there. Some of us have work to do.

Jason Szelest said...

Love your blog, but that's a pretty big swing from your first post where you were stunned and your mouth had fallen to the floor in disbelief to I admit I flipped out.
The whole situation is stupid and I'm sure security was going overboard, but next time just tell it like it happened.

Jason

Jonathan said...

I don't buy it, "mallcop."

You go, Caleb. I hope this makes it up the Simon chain and some heads roll. For that matter, I hope the pathetic excuses for APD police officers in this scenario figure out that there are real problems in this city worth addressing.

If Crossen (I won't even give him the dignity of "Officer" since he failed to give you the dignity of "citizen") is working at Brown, exercising his police power is certainly not appropriate unless something was being stolen. He needs to separate the emotions tied to his friendships with store employees from his job of providing security for the store.

I vote that Theory gives you a suit on behalf of Simon for the absurdity of this whole thing. Call it payback for all of the free advertising you've given Simon's malls on this site in addition to an apology.

The Repeatant said...

Anonymous poster (May 27th, 2:11 PM)-

I value your opinion, and can assure you Repeat Atlanta will continue to provide up to the minute details concerning Retail, Properties, and Eateries in Atlanta. If it seems as if we are just covering closures, the reasons behind that is we can only report on what is actually happening. Unfortunately, because of the economic times, that is what is in the news of late. This story is not about my personal problems. I have recently been robbed. Did we do a story on that? My car needs a new power stearing hose for $512. Am I really blasting my personal problems? No. The fact of the matter is this does involve the retail of Atlanta, and that is why it was posted. As you can tell, it’s a posting like no other. Same format as the rest, and will slowly diminish from the page as we post more stories in the days to come.

Anonymous said...

Mall cop has issues to deep and disturbing to point out all of them. He is a burnt out bitter individual who thinks he is superior in every way. Pathetic. I am sick of these pin heads. They need to be sued and shut down. We need to show up with a few hundred out of the group and swamp them until they change. So far I have had 1 officer dismissed and looks like another needs to be as well.

2good4u said...

To me it sound like you were being a brat and got what you ask for. Everybody know that if you act the fool at the mall you get banned. I think I know which "mall cop" you're talking about and he was very nice and helped me with directions to all the stores last time I went to Phipps. He wouldn't let me ride his little bike though. Shame on you for lying! I won't waste my time on this trash anymore!

Anonymous said...

I think mall cop is hot. Like water...

Anonymous said...

You know what this whole situation is absurd! Both of you have two stories that are hardly alike. Why would you say one thing and then change it. This Story was a waste of your time. By the way there is no reason to bash the security officer they put up with tons of crap, they earn and honest living just like every other hard working American. It seems to me that you may have some respect isues. It's a shame because you seem very bright, but actions sleek louder than words. Bottom line,Treat people as you want to be treated!

Anonymous said...

FYI...Dewayne Herbert is the leasing manager for Lenox and Phipps. Robin Suggs the Simon area mall manager for Lenox and Phills. Rsuggs@Simon.com.

Badfish said...

I was reading this and it made me hungry, I need some Pb&J!

Anonymous said...

Wow, how the story changes. If I were you and to continue to have any sort of credibility with future postings, I would delete this entire story. You are not coming across very well and honestly it supports the perception that has been expressed on here many times that you are amateurish in many ways - from your perceptions on why stores have closed, why they aren't successful and of course, your favorite topic Atlantic Station. My advice would be to save yourself any more embarrassment and delete the post. It's not doing you any favors from a legitimacy standpoint. Sorry as I usually enjoy some portions of the blog.

Anonymous said...

What was their reasoning for not taking pictures? I'm sorry that happened to you but glad you knew what to do and stood up for yourself. This kind of treatment is irresponsible and unacceptable.

E Cook said...

You really should send this to Ben Popken at the Consumerist. They are owned by Consumer Reports now and cover stories like this all the time.

ben@consumerist.com

Or possibly http://carlosmiller.com/

I have had "encounters" with police as well (not near your extent) and cannot stand when some super cop (real or rental) shows up making up laws and ultimately throwing the 9-11 card.

BTW Good job on the level headed attitude. I don't think I could have kept near the cool you did and would have probably got banned for real.

widmerpool said...

nobody can make you delete photos from a camera. NOBODY.

they can ban you from any mall but they can't ban you from taking photos.

why would you cave into freaking private security guards???

Kayla Shipman said...

I am telling you people it's getting closer to the book 1984 everyday. Everyday. If we don't take a stand for taking freaking pictures in a mall for crying out loud, or anything else for that matter, we won't be able to do anything. It is your own free will to take a picture of anything you want to.

Anonymous said...

IF the chain of events is exactly as written, by either side, than the APD and Mall Cop (yes I said it, they are not sworn public servants) were wrong to detain you in any manner. Escorting you off the property was the only possible remedy AFTER a request to leave, if at all. Publicly (in the mall common area) may have been defamation, and the fact that the mall manager called to apologize and tear up the note asking you not to re-enter may be an admission of this.