Terrorists Capture Mall of America
Did you know Mall of America mall cops have their own reality show?
Long ago and far away, I lived in Minneapolis and it was awesome. If you can get over the few months of God-forsaken weather each year and weird accents, you'll discover a town with real soul. People there are, believe it or not, pretty cool. They don't drive nearly as bad as their friends to the south in Wisconsin and Illinois and they have those amazing manners Midwesterners (like myself) are known for. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you can survive on $35k a year without auctioning a kidney, or at least you could back then.
I first met the Mall of America at 15 or 16.
Safe to say it was everything I'd ever dreamed it would be. Sprawling, huge and packed with more (dramatization) Footlockers and Orange Juliuses (/dramatization) than any mallrat teenage brat could want, we spent an entire day winding around it. This was pre-9/11, of course, so maybe things have changed a bit since I was last there.
Strangely, I'm actually leaving for Minneapolis this weekend for a much-needed respite away from the Beltway. I was sort of looking forward to the idea of leaving a sacrifice at the largest Temple of Consumption in the country while we're out there but now I'm seriously reconsidering that decision. It's bad enough I'm going to have to get body-scanned and groped on my way out of Washington but now this?
A fantastic NPR report (which happened to come out yesterday) details how America's largest shrine to shopping (which happens to be owned by a Canadian multinational conglomerate) has gone balls out TSA on its shoppers.
In its investigation, NPR uncovered 125 suspicious activity reports filed by MOA mall cops. Some of the "activity" included losing a cellphone at a food court and writing in a notebook.
And then there was this former Army missile system repairman, who was filming the mall from the experience of a shopper so he could share the video with his fiancée in Vietnam:
One afternoon three years ago, Francis Van Asten drove to the Mall of America, near Minneapolis, and started recording. First he filmed driving to the mall. Then he filmed a plane landing at the nearby airport, and then he strolled inside the mall and kept recording as he walked. He says he was taking a video to send to his fiancee in Vietnam.
As he started filming, he didn't realize that he was about to get caught up in America's war on terrorism — the mall had formed its own private counterterrorism unit in 2005. And now, a security guard had been tailing Van Asten since before he entered the mall. Van Asten was first approached by a guard outside a clothing store.
"And he asked me what I was doing. And I said, 'Oh, I'm making a video.' And I said, 'Are we allowed to make videos in Mall of America, and take pictures and stuff?' He says, 'Oh sure, nothing wrong with that,' " explains Van Asten. "So I turn to start walking away, and then he started asking me questions. Why am I making a video, what am I making a video of, what I did for a living, and he asked me, what's my hobbies?"
The guard called another member of the mall's security unit, and they questioned Van Asten for almost an hour before summoning two police officers from the Bloomington Police Department.
"I hadn't done anything wrong. I wasn't doing anything wrong, according to them even. I asked the policeman why I was being detained," says Van Asten. "He said, 'Listen, mister, we can do this any way you want: the easy way or the hard way.' "
And then, the police took Van Asten down to a police substation in the mall's basement.
Van Asten ended up in the Mall of America parking lot bawling his eyes out over the incident. A man who gave himself in service to this country, reduced to tears in a fucking mall parking lot.
So yeah, we may just be forced to skip the trip to Mall of America, which means hoarding the dollars I planned to throw away. I'm grateful to be in a position to have any disposable income to fritter away in this economy (making me Mall of America owners' highest priority target), but I'm not about to put myself in a position of getting treated like a terrorist in order to have the privilege to do so.
I can just as easily do my shopping online, which is just between me, the retailer, and the Homeland Security unit assigned to monitor my online activity.
I get it. It's called the fucking "Mall of America," I could see how Midwesterners with too much time on their hands might think terrorists (possibly wanting to get back at its Canadian owners... uh?) would target all four Aloha Shades locations in a mall named after America's former favorite past time. Here's what I don't get... The Mall of America itself provides plenty of logistics information, so why are they worried about some guy videotaping the mall for his soon-to-be-wife? I have no idea how terrorists think but I'm pretty sure they don't think I am totally going to go troll the mall obviously with a video camera.
"Mall security is the worst, always kicking you out of the food court for not buying anything, then filing a suspicious activity report with the FBI," says Gawker. What the fuck? When did we vote for this shit to happen?
When you look back on September 11th, think about how you've been terrorized relentlessly by this police state since.
We say bullshit like "never forget" but then we do, because we end up tolerating this sort of crap from glorified security guards with directives to feed fusion centers that aggregate the American condition. To what end? Is the guy who lost his cellphone in the food court really a threat? Maybe. But it becomes a joke when we then quarantine the man's cellphone along with someone else's cooler and stroller and detain the man for questioning. And we do this in front of the rest of the world.
What these endless filers don't understand is that the terrorists already attacked institutions like Mall of America - 40% of its traffic comes from tourists, 750 million people have walked through it. We are already reluctant to set foot in a fucking mall to begin with, and now we can get harassed for doing so. Doesn't that mean the terrorists have won? They didn't have to bomb the mall to accomplish that.
"It shattered an image of the U.S. that I had, fundamentally. I don't know, especially when I saw some of these reports. It's definitely bothersome, how small things can just, you know, trickle up that quickly, and all of a sudden you're labeled. And once you're labeled, you're basically messed up, right?" That's the U.S. citizen originally from Pakistan who found the FBI at his door after losing his cellphone.
Oh, and that Canadian multinational conglomerate that owns Mall of America? It's looking forward to launching "American Dream" in New Jersey:
American Dream is the vision of Triple Five Worldwide (T5), the only developer that owns and manages similar destinations. Through decades of experience, T5 has mastered attracting new and repeat visitors from around the world to its centers. Its focus on fresh concepts, promotions, tourist-drawing and the use of amusements, attractions and entertainment, creates constant top-of-mind awareness. This allows American Dream to capture consumer disposable income throughout all types of economic cycles, while ever-enhancing its appeal as a world scale tourist magnet.
Capture sounds violent, maybe the mall itself is the terrorist act. Maybe the wrong people are being reported.
American Dream! You can't make this shit up. Whose fucking dream is this supposed to be?
It doesn't appear to be a dream for those darn Canadians, who wanted $800 million in public financing to finish building this "American Dream," which sits frozen at 80% complete. You read that right: the Canadian multinational that owns assets like the West Edmonton Mall and Mall of America and operates in banking, private equity, natural resources like oil and gas, engineering and biotechnology wanted tax-free financing from the state of New Jersey to finish the project. And they wanted more before that.