Store Owners Defend ‘Hats Off’ Policy Amid ‘Pro-Hoodie’ Movement

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Southland campaign aimed at protecting business owners from potential robbery suspects may come under increased scrutiny in the face of a national wave of hooded rallies in the wake of the shooting death of a Florida teen.

KNX 1070’s Margaret Carrero reports at least one San Fernando Valley businessman is giving “Hats Off” to the LAPD-backed initiative.

Pizza shop owner Alex Sepanossian said the signs asking patrons to remove any hoodies, hats, or other headgear are merely in response to a robbery at his store last year.

“They came in the through the back door and did a hold-up, but after that, we put [the signs up] a few months later, it’s been OK ever since,” said Sepanossian.

He said most patrons voluntarily comply with the policy and that no one has filed a complaint against him or the store.

The symbol of the hooded sweatshirt has gained national recognition after the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager whose shooting by a neighborhood watch captain has sparked “pro-hoodie” rallies across Southern California and much of the nation.

Members of the California legislature were the latest politicians to join the movement, wearing hooded sweatshirts on the floor of each chamber Thursday and adjourned the day’s session in memory of the 17-year-old.

On Wednesday, Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois was reprimanded for wearing a hoodie on the House floor. Earlier this week, New York state senators also wore hoodies in their chamber.

But despite the raw emotion surrounding Martin’s death, LAPD Lt. Alan Hamilton insisted the “Hats Off” campaign is not meant to suggest that all people who wear hooded shirts are automatically criminals.

“As a matter of fact, when I run I wear a hoodie,” said Hamilton. “The whole goal behind that campaign is to allow yourself to be identified.”

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Oakie

    Sign you may be a gang banger:
    Wearing a hoodie in degree valley heat
    The waist on your pants is just above the knee

  • Left Coast Chuck

    It’s too bad that all the protesters failed to protest the killing of the two young black men who were killed a year ago. As I understand their situation, they were just about ready to graduate college, had no criminal or quasi criminal background, had never instigated a fight with anyone and were generally a credit to their parents and their community. Where was Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson? Where were the black community leaders out protesting the death of these two young men? It seems to me if the community wants to protest something, they should protest the killing of young men who are going to make a positive contribution to the community, not someone whose contribution to the community is questionable at best.

  • Crime does pay

    What really gets me is its always the BLACK community that protests. Enough is enough, yes this was tragic, however, there have been several other shootings alone in LA this week, where a 17yo Hispanic kid was killed and another black teen was killed. Wheres the protests here over them???? Not that i think there should be, but is this one life anymore important then an other? STOP making it a BLACK THING. Just stop in general.

  • rankin1

    last friday victorville 4 hooded blacks robbed shot dead a korean store owner.last week, Lancaster hooded Black male robbed shot dead computer store owner,none have been caught.

  • seemslike

    Any private business has the right to serve or not serve a customer on the basis of wearing shoes or not, crying children, blood alcohol, etc. Why can’t this store refuse service to customers who wear hoodies. Hoodies look stupid anyway.

  • Me

    The hoodie issue is out of control. We have had two homicides in 10 days in L.A. Co with suspects wearing hoodies, a robbery at knife point in Seal Beach with the suspect wearing a hoodie. No one in the media is focused on or showing the video of the six suspects from the home invasion in PA from March 18th, where all of the suspects were wearing hoodies and the beat a couple. Also, a home invasion in Tulsa, OK wear an 85 year old woman was beaten to death and the suspect was wearing a hoodie.

    Hoodies do not make anyone a criminal, however, criminals wear hoodies to conceal their identities. From college students, to sports fans, to people who are cold, myself included we all wear hoodies. However, I have no problem taking off my hat (baseball-sometimes) or hoodie when going into a business. I will still be cautious of people approaching me in a hoodie as they DO conceal a persons face. It is not about race it is about safety.

  • Tysawn

    I would wanr people about making anything RACIST!

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