A local kiosk operator is speaking out after he was told by the Cherry Hill Mall to stop selling shirts that protest police brutality.
Amir Miller, the operator of the Teary Eyez kiosk, says he began selling and wearing the t-shirts at the Cherry Hill Mall on Friday. The shirt has the words, “This Has to Stop,” along with a picture of stick figures beating a fallen person. During a time in which protests continue across the nation over deadly police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota, Miller insists his shirts are anti-police brutality but not anti-police.
Miller told NBC10 a shopper whose father is a police officer, disliked the shirt and the two had a discussion about it. Miller recorded the end of their conversation and posted it on his Facebook page.
Miller also said two Camden County Police officers saw the shirts and alerted the Cherry Hill Mall. Miller then received a voicemail Tuesday from a Cherry Hill Mall representative telling him to stop selling and wearing the shirt because it was offensive.
“I was trying to reason by saying it’s nothing negative about the shirt,” Miller told NBC10. “It’s a silhouette. Some stick figures. If this design had two white cops beating a black guy, understandable. That’s totally offensive.”
Miller posted a Facebook Live video of himself taking the shirts down Tuesday.
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In the video, he claims he tried to explain his side of the story to the Cherry Hill Mall rep but to no avail.
“They were very rude about it,” Miller said. “They weren’t trying to hear nothing. They just said to take them down.”
Miller says he wasn’t trying to be controversial but instead intended to promote a positive message through the shirt.
“This has to stop,” Miller said. “It’s not geared to any race. No color. Police brutality is bad. Why wouldn’t you want to stand for that?”
A spokesperson for the Cherry Hill Mall sent NBC10 a statement Wednesday about their request for Miller to take down the shirts.
“Cherry Hill Mall does not condone any type of violence, but we do support our tenants’ rights to peacefully conduct their business,” she wrote. “We made a hasty request that the merchant stop selling the specified t-shirts and as a result, have contacted the merchant to invite him to continue the sale of the t-shirts. We encourage peaceful unity in the region.”
Despite the statement, Miller told NBC10 the mall never contacted him and he plans to boycott it as a result. He took all of his merchandise out of the mall, leaving only the kiosk and mannequin behind. He now plans on selling his shirts at the Philadelphia Mills Mall instead. However, he also said he’s not ruling out a chance to sit down and talk with the Cherry Hill Mall management in the future.