FORT WAYNE, IN–Despite the fact that she wasn't doing nothing wrong, Northwood Mall security got all up in local 16-year-old Katrina Cuellar's face Monday.
"So I'm, like, hanging out on the benches with Jill [Nichols] and Amanda [Beresford] and Alicia [Hackett], and this security guy gets all up in my face and is like, 'Hey, you–you're being too loud! And clean up that mess you made!'" Cuellar said. "That's total bullshit."
The confrontation with mall security guard Eric Boyd occurred at approximately 8 p.m. on the benches in front of Hot Topic.
"Yeah, we were hanging out, but we weren't causing no problems," said Cuellar, who has related the injustice to nearly 30 friends throughout the Fort Wayne area. "Then that mall cop comes up and gets all Nazi Russia on us."
Boyd disagreed with Cuellar's account of the incident.
"That pack of girls was up to no good," said Boyd, 44, a Northwood Mall employee since February 1999. "I had a report from Patricia at the Original Cookie Company that they had been yelling inappropriate remarks at other mall patrons, so I went up to the girls to tell them to keep it down. That's when I noticed the napkins and empty Burger King cups in the potted plants adjacent to them."
Boyd said he politely asked the girls to deposit their trash in an appropriate waste receptacle. Cuellar responded that the garbage did not belong to them.
"The girls were holding Burger King bags, and there were a number of corresponding Burger King cups and napkins in the nearby plant," Boyd said. "Do you mean to tell me it was merely a coincidence that these girls were eating Burger King food, and just a few feet away in the plant were Burger King items that belonged to somebody else? That seems unlikely."
Boyd informed the group that he didn't care to whom the garbage belonged, saying that Cuellar and her friends "had better hop to it" and pick up the refuse if they wished to remain at the mall.
"That cop didn't have no right to get all up in my face," Cuellar said. "I'm supposed to clean up trash like I work there or something? I don't work there."
Added Cuellar: "I got a right to go where I want. I ain't in jail or nothing."
Dorothea Lurman, a noted teens'-rights activist, expressed outrage over the incident.
"I am deeply saddened to hear that this sort of injustice is still going on in this supposedly free country," Lurman said. "Can't nobody just go shopping without getting hassled by some fat old mall cop?"
Lurman called America's malls the "final frontier in the fight to eliminate teenist discrimination in our society."
"Where, if not the mall, can youths go to find a safe space in which to express their individuality free from the disapproving glare of society as a whole?" asked Lurman, author of the 1997 book Everybody Ridin' My Ass: The Youth Experience In The American Mallscape. "Our young people desperately need a place where they can just chill and do they thing in peace."
Northwood Mall has refused to issue Cuellar and her friends an apology.
"While we are disappointed that this unfortunate incident had to happen, we stand by the actions of Mr. Boyd," Northwood Mall general manager Ted Parrott said. "For the safety of all of our patrons, we must strictly enforce certain rules of conduct."
According to Cuellar, this is not the first time mall authority figures have unfairly gotten up in her face. On Oct. 19, employees at Northwood Mall video arcade The Game Den reportedly jumped on Cuellar about spilling soda on a Tekken III machine. While the sign at The Game Den's entrance clearly prohibits the drinking of soda on arcade premises, Cuellar insisted that she wasn't drinking soda, merely carrying it in her hand.
On Oct. 24, the iron fist of mall authority struck again–this time in the form of Gadzooks assistant manager Naomi Gronson. According to Cuellar, Gronson began bitching out Cuellar and Beresford for trying on clothing. Gronson claimed that the girls tied up one of the store's two fitting rooms for more than an hour, leaving as many as 25 items on the re-hang rack without purchasing a single item.
"[Gronson] went all psycho on us, just because we didn't buy anything at her store," Cuellar said. "Well, just because all her clothes are gay-ass, that don't make it my fault."
So disgusted is Cuellar with her mistreatment at the hands of Northwood personnel, she is considering a boycott of the mall.
"If I want to deal with some retard who wants to ride my ass for no reason, I'll just take the bus," Cuellar said. "That fuckin' driver on the E-line is almost as bad as Mr. Big Shot Mall Cop."