Mall security raids kiosk, confiscates t-shirts www.privateofficer.com
The design was one of three on T-shirts that were confiscated from a kiosk in Town East Mall after complaints. Half an hour after the raid, a half-dozen Pleasant Grove business owners gathered at the Southeast Dallas Chamber of Commerce and celebrated a medium-size victory.
In the center of the room, draped across the back of a chair like a pelt, was one of the vanquished T-shirts:
“Welcome to Pleasant Grove,” it read – below a silkscreen image of a man tossing a body into the trunk of an old Buick.
Like everyone in the room, Pleasant Grove pawnshop owner Joy Vosburg praised the Mesquite mall’s quick action.
“It’s fantastic,” she said. “I don’t think any city should be portrayed like that.”
Vosburg had first spotted the T-shirts during a Monday evening shopping trip.
“It was horrible,” she recalled. “I would have bought them just to get rid of them. But I didn’t want to give them money.”
Instead, she said, she asked the clerk: “How can you sell those?”
“She just looked at me and said, ‘What’s wrong with it?’ “
What’s wrong with it, Vosburg said, is that it perpetuates a violent stereotype of Pleasant Grove – a blue-collar neighborhood in the heart of southeastern Dallas – that the chamber has been working overtime to abolish.
In October, it kicked off a rebranding campaign, including “GroveFest” and “Hands Across the Grove,” when residents linked hands along South Buckner Boulevard.
The chamber will even move out of its old digs above the Diaper Store in a neighborhood strip mall and into the brand-new Eastfield College branch up the road.
“We’re doing so much trying to get Pleasant Grove built back,” Vosburg said. “And then to walk into the mall and see that.”
Vosburg complained about the shirts to the chamber’s chairman the day after she saw them. The chairman complained to mall officials, and that afternoon they told the kiosk vendor to shelve the shirts.
On Wednesday, the T-shirts had been concealed under their more innocuous brethren. A second style that read, “Pleasant Grove. Only the strong survive,” was curtained off behind “World’s Greatest Dad.”
A style that read “Pleasant Grove,” with the L and R transformed into pistols, was also hidden. The clerk refused to sell any shirts to a reporter.
A different clerk was working on Thursday morning when Vosburg returned to the kiosk, having decided it was worth giving $36 to the other side for evidence of the offense.
About an hour after the mall learned of the sale, security and management personnel surrounded the kiosk, riffling through every shelf and peeking behind every hanger.
The clerk, who said she had not known about the warning, mostly ignored the raid. She stared serenely into her till as mall staff filled a cardboard box with the contraband.
“They’ve all been confiscated,” the mall’s community-relations director, Debbie Screws, said afterward.
She said she did not know who designed the shirts, as did the kiosk vendors.
Screws said the kiosk owner could pick up the confiscated shirts later but probably would have to pay a fine.
That’s a light sentence, given Dallas’ history with shirt scandals.
Four years ago, a kiosk vendor was kicked out of Valley View Center for selling a shirt with a nearly identical image – another body in a trunk, in a slightly different style.
“Welcome to Oak Cliff,” it read.
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