No Tengo Common Sense

Seven security guards were dispatched to deal with an 11-year-old girl who had snapped a photo of a Taco Bell inside the food court of an Indiana shopping mall Friday night, insisting that she delete the photo.

But the girl, who was in tears because she thought she was going to jail, had already deleted the photo after the Taco Bell manager had threatened to sue her.

All she wanted was a photo to post on Facebook or Instagram or text to her friends or to do whatever an 11-year-old girl who is a big fan of Taco Bell would do with a photo that probably didn’t look any different from any other photo of any other Taco Bell in any other food court in any other state.

This is about as cookie-cutter as it gets.

When Nikki Massey, the girl’s mother, confronted the manager, she was told the following:

“No one is allowed to take picture. What they did is in violation of copyright. Taco Bell can and will sue you for taking a picture.”

Obviously, somebody is taking this “run to the border” thing a little too far because that’s not how it works in this country.

The incident took place at Southlake Mall in Merrilville, which has a policy stating that “photographing, video-taping and/or filming requires the prior written consent of mall management.”

Mall code of conduct

But the most they can do to anybody who violates that policy is ask them to leave  and have them arrested for trespassing if they refuse.

Taco Bell certainly can’t sue anybody for a copyright violation. And neither Taco Bell or the mall security guards have any right to order the girl to delete the photo.

Not even police would have that right.

And while the mall has the right to prohibit photography, it is a policy that should be enforced with common sense, especially in this day and age when everybody has a camera as well as an internet platform because now it’s going to turn into a public relations nightmare for the mall, which just got through promoting a week of “Photos with Santa” and is preparing for Black Friday this week.

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We saw what happened earlier this year at an Ohio shopping mall when a security guard tried to prevent people from photographing an accident outside the mall because she was taking a zero-sense, zero-tolerance approach to the mall’s policy against photography.

It wasn’t pretty.

Massey is  livid, especially because the Taco Bell manager confronted her daughter without first seeking a parent. And she is not going to shut up about it, vowing to contact mall management first thing Monday, according to her Facebook post where she describes the incident.

So please, be forewarned….DO NOT TAKE PICTURES IN THE MALL, IN THE MALL PARKING LOT, IN THE MALL WALKWAYS, IN THE CHILDRENS PLAY AREA, IN THE CENTER OF THE MALL, OR IN THE FOOD COURT! You could be in violation of their Code of Conduct! Needless to say, I’m going to speak with the mall management and I’m writing a letter to Taco Bell to share the lovely experience we had. I want to ask them if they would sue an 11 years old (the parents) for taking a picture in their establishment because she was excited to be there? I’m interested in the answer! This could have all been handled in a totally different way!

At one point, she snapped a photo of the Taco Bell manager, but it’s not clear from her lengthy Facebook post, the entirety which I cut and pasted below, whether she deleted the photo or not when asked. I reached out to her for comment but she has not responded.

UPDATE: Massey responded with the photo of the Taco Bell shift manager as well as a photo that her daughter’s friend snapped that did not get deleted. The shift manager is on the phone to security. She also provided more details, including a clarification, below. Her original post is below.

Also, a reader provided the number to this particular Taco Bell in the comments section, in case you want to give them a call:  (219) 769 – 0811.

UPDATE II: Photos of the Taco Bell worker have been removed at the request of Massey because the employee has supposedly been receiving threats. I would not normally remove the photos but they were taken by Massey, so I did so more as a copyright request than anything else.

Taco Bell

I spoke with the girls again after I made my original post. I wanted to share with you that I had wanted to make a correction to it. I stated that 4 security guards were surrounding my daughter and her friends, but the girls say it was 3. I don’t like giving that misinformation…although, the point remains…It was still overkill, still intimidating, still scary. In the letter I’ve been composing to the mall, I tell them…”Between the Taco Bell shift leader and the security/police (the amount of them that came) was overwhelming, total intimidation, and separated me from these children. In my head I’m thinking, this woman called security on my kids for an innocent picture, she’s smirking at me, there’s guards around my kids and guards next to me…are they going to detain me, there’s guards between me and my children, where’s my mom and does she see this, I want my money back, I feel we’ve been violated and my kids just lost a little bit of innocence, she threatened that Taco Bell can and will sue if the picture(s) aren’t deleted. All of that went through my head all at once.”

Here is her original Facebook post:

I would hope the people who know me, know that I expect good behavior from my children. When they mess up, I deal with it and we move on. When my child is confronted in a way that I feel is inappropriate or harsh, I also deal with it…as many other mother’s would do. For one, if I am present and another adult has a problem with my child, they are to talk with me, not my child. UNLESS, what they are doing is potentially dangerous to them or to others. Also, if you know me well, you may know my children are sensitive (like me) and rule followers. If they think they messed up, they are remorseful and feel awful that they made a mistake. They’ve always been that way. I’ve had to tell them to lighten up and forgive themselves…mistakes happen.Madalyn had 2 of her girlfriends stay the night last night, Friday night. Maddie has been asking me to take them to the mall for a while now so I broke down and said yes. I asked my mom to go with me so I had someone to be with. At their ages, I don’t feel it’s safe or responsible of me to just drop them off at the mall. I figured, I’d let her and her friends walk ahead of us so we wouldn’t cramp their style but we were close enough that they were supervised. That was the deal.After a little while of going in stores and giggling, I told the girls that it was time to eat something before the mall closed so they could continue on with their adventure after we ate.

We walked to the food court in the mall and I told them to pick the place they wanted to eat. They all said Taco Bell. They walked ahead of us and I told my mom to go have a seat and that I’d bring the food. As I’m walking to Taco Bell, here comes Madalyn with tears in her eyes. I was like….Ummmm, what did I miss?? I asked her what was wrong and she said the lady at Taco Bell yelled at her and her friends. I ask why. Maddie said because she took a picture of Taco Bell. I looked at her in a little bit of confusion. I asked her, what did the lady say? Maddie said that the lady was mean about it and told her she wasn’t allowed to take picture and that they had to delete the pictures. As her friends are walking to us, I asked Maddie if she deleted the photo and she told me yes. Well, I was a little bit miffed…for one, these are young girls, Maddie being 11 years old. These children were not unsupervised. If the children did something wrong, the lady at Taco Bell should have asked the children if their parents were there and if so, that she needed to speak with them. That way, the parent has the opportunity to take care of the situation appropriately.I walked up to the lady, who happened to be the shift manager at Taco Bell. I asked her what happened that upset these girls and asked her if she confronted my children without me being present. If I’m caring for children who are not mine, they become mine while they are with me. She said, rudely, “No one is allowed to take picture. What they did is in violation of copyright. Taco Bell can and will sue you for taking a picture.”

As this came out of her mouth, I felt my blood pressure escalate. I looked at her and said, “These are 11 year old children. They were being silly taking pictures while out with friends. If Taco Bell wants to sue me, then they can sue me. Don’t correct a child if their parent is present, you should have spoken to me to handle it. Do NOT mess with my kids.” I was firm, I did not raise my voice, nor did I use language that was inappropriate. I turned around and pulled Madalyn to the side and told her to “calm down….this lady is on a power trip. We know the rules now, don’t take pictures. It’s over and done.” I spoke to all the girls, reassured them everything was fine, let’s resume fun and get something to eat. I asked them if they still wanted Taco Bell and they said yes. We walk back up to the Taco Bell counter and I told the girls to order what they wanted, Madalyn standing behind me because she doesn’t want to order or see the lady, so I ordered hers and then for myself and mom. I paid the lady and I told the girls to step down because they would put the food down there. I waited for our drinks.

As I am standing there getting our drinks out of my peripheral vision I see people walk up to these girls, 4 mall security/police surrounded the girls and 2 to 3 were around me. AGAIN….you DON’T speak with the children, you speak with the adult, the parent that is with them!!! I whipped my head around and looked at the “shift leader” and said, “You called security on 11 year old children over a picture?????” I was angry!!! Madalyn breaks down in tears, why…because she thinks she’s going to jail!!!! I repeated myself to the lady and the security guard told me to “calm down”!!! Calm down??? I looked at the woman again and said, “How dare you do this to children over a pictures!” The security guard proceeded to hand me a piece of paper with the Code of Conduct on it and said that it is against mall’s code of conduct to take pictures and that I could call the mall office on Monday to voice my complaint if I had one. I told the woman, “REFUND MY MONEY, NOW!!!!” Again, the security guard told me to calm down!! Now again, if you know me, I CAN BE loud unintentionally! My voice carries, I have a loud laugh…so if I’m upset, my voice raises. I surely wasn’t yelling, but I was voicing my outrage at the whole thing….and the “shift manager” smiling the whole time didn’t help me one bit! Yes, she was smiling at me!!

As we’re all standing there, I look at my daughter who is very upset, I asked her again in front of 7 security/police personnel…did you delete the picture? She said, Yes! I looked at security and said, “she deleted the picture!!” They were happy with that so they left and I took the girls to find my mom, who was sitting behind us but had no idea what had happened.We sat down with my mom and told her what happened. Well, everything upset my mother, seeing these girls upset but seeing Madalyn scared to death was enough for her to get up and go back to Taco Bell. My mom walked up there and asked the woman, “Before you spoke to those children, did you ask them to get their parent?” The lady said, “I can’t discuss this with you”. My mother asked the people in line to please wait a second, and then stood in front of the woman and told her…”You WILL discuss this with the adult that is with these children!” My mom asked her again and then she said, “Noooo, I didn’t.” My mom told her, these children are supervised by their mother and their grandmother. It is our responsibility to correct them and deal with the situation. You DO NOT address children and tell them to do something unless it is harmful behavior without first speaking with the adult that is with them.” Then the husband and wife said to the woman…”You NEVER do that to a child!” My mom comes back and told the girls…Ok, lets regroup and move on! But as I was sitting there, people around us asked what happened and I told them. They couldn’t believe it!

Ok, sooooo here’s when the child in me came out…. So we get up and go and as I walked past the Taco Bell “shift leader” lady, I pulled out my phone and I told her to smile for Facebook! I said, what you did to us, to these children is pathetic and that she should be ashamed of the chaos she created. Soooo, as we’re walking…I said to my mom, “watch, she’ll call security again.” As we got to the top of the escalator, here comes 2 security guards again, smiling at us, and he asked nicley…”Did you just take another picture?” I smiled back and said, “Yes, yes I did.” He says, “I’m gonna have to ask you to delete it.” I said, “Ok, I deleted it.” My mom and I both said to them, this was ridiculous! They said they understood but it was mall policy and they had to enforce it. They couldn’t ask us for our phones or iPods but had to take our word for it that it was deleted. I said, I understand, but these are 11 year olds who were documenting their time together, having innocent fun, and this whole situation should not have happened. They agreed. So then we got on the escalator and I told the girls….this is something you’ll never forget! And Madalyn, still visibly upset said, “Yay….I’ll remember how I almost got arrested at the mall for taking a picture when I was 11. “

So, we went to Gloria Jeans in the middle of the mall and while sitting there, a security guy passed us smiling…he had been up there too. Yes, I asked him if I could take his picture! I was kidding of course. Then as we are leaving, at the door…I saw the Code of Conduct rules on the wall so I took a picture of it. Well, a security guard was outside and she came in. She was also up there when it all happened. I said, “I just took a picture of the Code of Conduct”. She said, it’s ok…I was here and I saw you and you have my approval to do so. I thanked her and I told her I never want to experience anything like this again. She told me to call the mall management on Monday and she also told me that the shift leader at Taco Bell, called her manager and told her what happened. I said, Yeah, I’m sure she did!!! I said, this should have never happened the way it did and she smiled at me and shook her head. So we left and got Taco Bell in front of Target and went home.

So please, be forewarned….DO NOT TAKE PICTURES IN THE MALL, IN THE MALL PARKING LOT, IN THE MALL WALKWAYS, IN THE CHILDRENS PLAY AREA, IN THE CENTER OF THE MALL, OR IN THE FOOD COURT! You could be in violation of their Code of Conduct! Needless to say, I’m going to speak with the mall management and I’m writing a letter to Taco Bell to share the lovely experience we had. I want to ask them if they would sue an 11 years old (the parents) for taking a picture in their establishment because she was excited to be there? I’m interested in the answer! This could have all been handled in a totally different way!