SANTA ROSA, Calif.
Owners of a North Bay mall have apologized after security guards asked customers to remove t-shirts they were wearing, paying tribute to Andy Lopez.
Nicole Guerra was one of the customers asked to remove her shirt, and told KTVU about the moment Santa Rosa Plaza security guards confronted her.
”You can completely tell how embarrassed I was. There was no reason I should have had to do that,” said Guerra as she showed cell phone video of the confrontation.
Guerra’s teenage son grew-up with Lopez, the 13-year-old shot and killed by Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus after he said he mistook Lopez’s airsoft gun for an AK-47.
Guerra said she wears the memorial t-shirt in the teen’s honor, and was wearing it Monday night following a protest earlier that afternoon with the Justice for Andy Lopez coalition.
”[We were] literally sitting down to have a family dinner in the food court,” said Guerra.
In the cell phone video you can see several guards approach Guerra, her children and Lopez’s parents.
”They said you need to remove your shirt. It is not allowed in the mall or you need to leave and that was so embarrassing, so humiliating, and so frustrating,” said Guerra.
She called her attorney who wrote the owners of the mall. He says a California Supreme Court case protects free speech even in private shopping center.
It’s unclear why the guards approached the family.
”I believe it was more of a power trip and maybe they have something against what we’re doing,” said Guerra.
Attorneys for the mall responded with a letter and said, ”We are deeply disappointed that the actions of the security officers did not comply with our policies and procedures and regret that this incident occurred.”
US Security Associates provides the mall security.Ê Attempts to reach a company representative Friday afternoon were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, Andy Lopez supporters are declaring a victory and on Sunday they’ll make a loop around the mall in their t-shirts, simply because they can.
By Katie Utehs and KTVU.com