Only terrorists take photos at the Mall of America

From Alternet:

Mall of America officials say their security unit stops and questions on average up to 1,200 people each year. The interviews at the mall are part of a counterterrorism initiative that acts as the private eyes and ears of law enforcement authorities but has often ensnared innocent people, according to an investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting and NPR.

In many cases, the written reports were filed without the knowledge of those interviewed by security. Several people named in the reports learned from journalists that their birth dates, race, names of employers and other personal information were compiled along with surveillance images.
On Nov. 9, 2008, the Bloomington resident videotaped a short road trip from his home to the Mall of America. Van Asten, now 66, planned to send it to his fiancée’s family in Vietnam so they could see life in the United States.

As he headed down an escalator, camera in hand, mall guards caught sight of him.

“Right away, I noticed he had a video camera and was recording the rotunda area,” a security guard wrote in a suspicious activity report. “When he got to second floor [sic] he turned to the overlook of the park while still videotaping.”
Bobbie Allen, now 47, headed to the Mall of America on June 25, 2007, for lunch with a woman. As he waited for her, Allen sat alone writing in a notebook, which caught the attention of security. Counterterrorism experts sometimes instruct police and security personnel to look for suspicious note-taking, as it may indicate attack planning.

So, taking videos or writing things in notebooks means you’re a terrorist. What about taking photos?


The last time we were in Minnesota, the Zvans took us to the Mall of America, that monument to American capitalism (owned by Canada-based Triple Five Group, by the by). I had someone snap a photo of opportunity in front of an oxygen bar so I could blog about it later. I hadn’t gotten around to it til now, but I was expecting this post would take a different vector.

How many of your freedoms have you given up in building your surveillance state, America? How much would you be willing to bet that after we did our touristy thing, some mall cop didn’t build a portfolio filled with every shred of info they could find on us? Given that we’re bloggers, atheists, and we lean populist and anti-woo, I’m a little surprised Stephanie and I made it out intact and without some sort of “enhanced interrogation”. Especially with my being a foreigner.

Only terrorists take photos at the Mall of America
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13 thoughts on “Only terrorists take photos at the Mall of America

  1. 2

    The war on expression has gotten way out of hand in the past ten years. It’s pathetic. Our civil liberties mean nothing in the face of the police state. The terrorists won, and we have lost.

  2. 3

    Funny how Mall of America is owned by the Ghermezians. You’d think the mere fact it’s owned by some of them Eye-ranians would get everyone all outraged. You can’t have a major American commercial site owned by ebil Mooslums. (The fact the Ghermezians are Jewish would likely go over the head of the paranoids. Or maybe not, you never know with the kook crowd.)

  3. 6

    I’m breathing. That means I -could- be keeping myself alive in order to… oh, I don’t know… drive a school bus full of kittens into a kindergarten. Over broken mirrors and under a ladder. At 4:20 pm. Whilst blasting “Stairway to Heaven.” And… banging a gay communist?

    Yep… evil ol’ me… doing all this suspicious breathing…

  4. Art

    I knew you looked like a terrorist.

    And now that we know for sure what one looks like we can look for people who look the same. Then we will be safe, and will be able to sleep soundly at night knowing all the terrorists are under close observation.

  5. 9

    On one hand, the Mall of America is privately owned and they have the right to restrict photography there. On the other hand, detaining people because they have a camera is reprehensible and handing over transcripts to the police is asinine. If they don’t want people taking pictures, that’s fine, just ask them not to. On the other hand, I’m a white guy, so nobody asked any questions when I took that picture.

  6. 10

    I think you need a deeper tan to be considered a threat in Mall Of America, Jason. And maybe a turban to keep the flash reflection off that forehead from overwhelming the camera lens.

  7. 11

    Yes, and your hairline is only barely beating mine in the race to reach the back of our skulls. But next time you go to the MOA, grab a nice dark spray tan, toss a turban on, then start snapping photos. Hell, I’ll wager you’ll struggle just to gain entrance to the USA unmolested, never mind being allowed to wander around a mall in honky-ville.

  8. 12

    I guess I need to delete the photos I took of the Mall of America long ago. It might be used as evidence against me.

    After all, I’ve been recorded because I’ve been buying a box of decongestant pills (the real stuff behind the counters) every few months.

    Furthermore, because I’m the treasurer for a local charity, I had to be recorded because I deposited over $10,000 in cash into the charity bank account due to a very successful fundraising event.

    So, clearly, I’m a meth-making terrorist with massive funding looking to blow up the Mall of America any moment now.

    Sigh…I miss the US. I really do. Can someone please bring it back?

  9. 13

    Oh, come on Unbound – why would you deprive the world of a great source of dark humour by attempting to reverse the momentum as your once great country circles the drain? Watching you self-destruct helps us Canadians convince ourselves that we’re slightly less worse than you, ignoring the fact that our government is hell-bent on following you down into the dark depths!

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