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    Faux Obama evicted from Loudoun mall

    photoPhoto courtesy/Michael Esposito Michael Esposito poses for a picture at Dulles Town Center Halloween night. The father of three says he believes he was asked to leave the mall for wearing an Obama mask.

    For a short time Halloween night, Michael Esposito felt like a celebrity.

    Sporting a large cardboard cut-out mask of President Barack Obama, the 34-year-old Sterling resident, his wife and children, took to Dulles Town Center for trick-or-treating activities.

    Throughout the night, Esposito was stopped more than 20 times by adoring Obama fans who wanted their picture taken with the faux commander-in-chief.

    But the fun came abruptly to an end when a Dulles Town Center security officer asked Esposito to take off his mask – a request that eventually led to the father of three being escorted out of the mall by a Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

    The security guard, according to Esposito, said adults were forbidden from wearing masks in the mall. But to add insult to injury, the guard reportedly continued: “And it doesn’t help that it’s him.”

    “He was referring directly to the fact that I was wearing an Obama mask,” Esposito said, adding he purchased the mask at a Dulles Town Center Halloween store. 

    Dulles Town Center officials would not comment directly about the alleged remark made by the security guard.

    “Given the high-profile incidents that have occurred in public places in recent times, our policy requires that individuals are not permitted to wear a mask that conceals their entire face, ” said Wendy Morigi, a spokesperson for Dulles Town Center.

    As a private business, Dulles Town Center has the right to refuse service to anyone, however, Esposito said he was unaware of the no masks for adults policy, especially on Halloween.

    There were no signs anywhere in the mall warning adults of the policy, Esposito said. 

    “Obviously, if I had walked up to the door and seen that policy I would have removed my mask,” Esposito said.

    Esposito said while puzzled about the request from the security guard, since there were many adults wearing masks on Halloween, he complied.

    Morigi said other adults were asked to remove their masks that night.

    “Obviously, because of the nature of Halloween, we did not enforce this security requirement among children, however, out of an abundance of caution, our security personnel did enforce this policy with adults and they were asked to remove any masks they were wearing,” she said.

    The night soured for the family, the father, his wife and three children, ages 2, 4 and 7, decided to leave.

    On their way out, Esposito said he was approached by a woman who asked for a picture with the faux Obama. He knew he couldn’t put the mask back on, so he held it to his face.

    After the picture was taken, Esposito said he turned to find a Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office deputy standing near him, who allgedly grabbed his wrist,  asked for his driver’s license and demanded to know where he was parked.

    The deputy, he said, along with a mall security guard, escorted the family out of the mall, “holding my license hostage until we reached the exit of the mall.”

    A Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said the deputy was called to help with the incident because Esposito was acting disorderly – a charge the Sterling resident disputes.
    The spokesman said no incident report was filed on the situation and Esposito was not charged.

    Still Esposito is convinced he was targeted by the mall security guard for his political preferences.

    As the family exited the building, Esposito said the mall security guard yelled “maybe you should have chosen a different costume.”

    “I wore my mask because I am proud of my president. People of all ages and ethnicities were saying ‘hi’ and asking for pictures. I left the Dulles Town Center mall feeling ashamed of the mask I had worn. I felt belittled and intimidated. The face of our president had brought so much backlash from authority that I was asked to leave,” Esposito said. “… I wonder … had I worn a Romney mask would it had made a difference? Because it certainly didn’t for the other six adults I saw in the mall wearing masks – none of whom were approached to remove their mask.”

    Comments

    “Sheriff of a small town gets his licks in.”


    Loudoun Times is biased…huh?  All I see is Obama/Biden today. Sad you can’t be fair to all candidates or focus on Election Day in general. Disappointing Loudoun Times, disappointing.


    myownsense - Oh lord really? None of those rules make you safe. The no costumes at Batman rule was such a farce, the Co shooter came in a back door and was not in costume he was in tactical uniform and wearing a gas mask.

    The idea to have a mall Halloween party and ban masks is down right stupid; on top of that it seems the guard who hassled this guy targeted him on politics not policy and did a poor job of explaining the problem to the guy. Welcome to redneck authoritarian America.


    Stupid hick mall cop.  This is supposed to be a land of freedom and choice.  If there’s a no-mask policy, fine then - enforce it for all.  The irony too, is that he bought it at a store AT THE MALL.  lol.  I’d ask for a refund.


    I used to work for Dulles Town Center’s “security” department. From what I remember about the Malloween event at DTC, the mask policy only applies to adults. Also, don’t be confused. They are not “security officers”, they are “courtesy patrol”; they are not licensed by Virginia DCJS and are not legally allowed to call themselves “security officers”. Despite their perceived authority, all they are allowed to do is observe and report; they cannot detain or make arrests. How do I know? I’m licensed through Virginia DCJS. Given the time of day that this happened, I have a good idea of which “officer” it was. This person will never be anything more than a Keystone Cop with an over-inflated ego. That’s why I quit and got a real job. Bottom line, I’m not an Obama supporter by any means but I will defend a person’s right to have and share their opinion even if it’s not in line with my own.


    If it is okay for an adult to wear a mask, any mask, at the mall on Hallween (Obama, Romney, Clinton, Reagan, Freddy Krueger or Pope John Paul), then I don’t suppose anyone would object if an adult wore an Osama Bin Laden mask into a mall food court on the anniversary of his death? Or a Batman costume into a movie theater during the next Batman movie? Really? There can’t be that many people living under a rock. This is just plain common sense and meant for the welfare and protection of all mall patrons. It is truly unfortunate but that s the nature of our society today. Thanks to mall security and the LCSO for putting safety and security first and enforcing this common sense policy, posted or not. If the security guard or anyone else in a position of trust and authority did make the remark attributed to them in this article, then they should be appropriately disciplined for that. That sort of remark would be totally unacceptable, inappropriate and irrelevant to the safety and security issue, if it was uttered. However, given the apparent political slant and bias of the writer and the masked adult, I am inclined to believe they heard what they wanted to hear and wrote what they wanted to write. This should be a great big non-story.


    Seems like a silly reason to escort them out of a mall.  If this is what LCSO is doing with their time, we must be overstaffed at the police department.  Perhaps they can send some of their excess staff to NYC where they could use the support.  Meanwhile, are you kidding me?  Arrested for wearing an Obama mask?  Welcome to America.


    Seems stupid for the mall to have a Halloween party then a no masks policy.

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    Loudoun Business Journal - Summer 2014

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