The shadow of suspicion falls in the Mall of America: Visitors who have done nothing wrong are winding up identified in counterterrorism reports (

September 7, 2011 12:00 am

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An investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) and National Public Radio (NPR) revealed that the Mall of America runs a suspicious activity reporting (SAR) program that violates innocent shoppers’ First and Fourth Amendment rights. Approximately 1,200 shoppers are stopped each year by the mall’s private security guards under the pretext of having engaged in “suspicious” activity, including such innocent and innocuous activity like photography, videography and note-taking, which are protected under the First Amendment. Mall security stops and sometimes detains these individuals, interrogates them, collects their personal information and sends it to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and fusion centers, where it may be kept on file for decades even when there is no finding of wrongdoing. Nearly two-thirds of the SARs examined by CIR and NPR involved racial and ethnic minorities.

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