Street preacher asked to leave Mall of America for soliciting
On January 7th, a self-proclaimed street preacher, was approached by Mall of America security guards for religious soliciting. Although, the man had previous encounters with Mall of America security for handing out tracts, and preaching to shoppers.
However, in the video, the man was told, his shirt was soliciting other shoppers in the mall. The security guard in the video said “You need to take that shirt off. It is religious soliciting, there is no soliciting on mall property which is private property.”. On the front of the man’s shirt the words are “Jesus saves”, and on the back is said “Jesus is the only way”, with a ‘Coexist’ symbol slashed. The man, however, claims he was using his freedom of speech to express his religious views in public.
Alisa Von Hagel, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin Superior, talked more about freedom of speech. “No matter what the situation or the context to where you’re at, there’s always restrictions that are placed on these freedoms that we have. And so freedom of speech is not absolute. There are limitations.” Von Hagel said. Private properties like the Mall of America, and also Miller Hill Mall, do not allow soliciting.
“They do have some leeway to ensure that all of the persons, the persons who are shopping there, who are at the mall, feel safe, are not harmed or not accosted by others unwillingly. And thus they do have the means to protect the whole group by limiting, certain aspects of speech by certain individuals.” Von Hagel said.
In regards to the clothes someone is wearing, depending on whether they break the rules of the mall they might need to leave. “Again, it’s one of those gray areas. It’s not crystal clear. There’s no dividing line in the sand on this particular issue. But there are grounds for removing a person, for solicitation, for certain imagery or language on, you know, T-shirts or clothing that could be considered highly offensive to others. And within reason.”
The Triple Five group, owns Mall of America, which means it is private property. Since it is private property, not all aspects of freedom of speech is available. Similarly, Simon Property group owns Miller Hill mall in Duluth, they do not permit soliciting.
The Mall of America, however, issued a statement regarding the incident. “One week prior, he was issued a 24-hour trespass for soliciting guests. After a brief interaction, the guest was not required to change his shirt and was allowed to remain at the mall.”
For more information on soliciting and the rules at Mall of America you can look here https://www.mallofamerica.com/security.
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