A Buford, Georgia, mother was outraged after a mall security guard kicked her disabled son out of the mall's play area.
April Tate told KIRO 7 that she was at the mall with her son, 5-year-old Isaiah, when the incident occurred. Isaiah is wheelchair-bound and nonverbal, though Tate said her son loves to sit close to the play area at the Mall of Georgia and watch children play.
"He laughs and giggles and he's so animated, you can tell that he really enjoys being there," she said. On the day of the incident, however, Tate said a security guard approached her and her family to inform them that they needed to leave.
"The wheelchair is a safety hazard, and it's mall policy to keep them out of this area," the security guard said, according to cellphone video taken by her husband, Dana.
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"It made me feel angry and hurt for my child that they were asking him to leave an area which I knew was clearly against the Americans with Disabilities Act," Tate told 11 Alive.
Dana Tate said that the reason he filmed the confrontation was to have proof, as well as to make people aware of incidents like the one they were involved in.
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"We don't want this to keep going on," he said. He added that once the video began circulating, he started hearing of similar incidents happening to other families.
"The majority of people are in support of Isaiah and seem to be outraged at what happened," Tate said. She maintained that she'd never before had a situation like the one that occurred at the Mall of Georgia, adding that security guards in the past have interacted positively with her son.
"Mall of Georgia welcomes all shoppers, including those with disabilities, to enjoy our center and our children’s play area. Our expectation is to provide an inclusive environment that is safe, comfortable and accessible for everyone, and we have no policy that states otherwise," a mall spokesperson said in a statement.
"We have connected with Isaiah’s mother to rectify the unfortunate and unacceptable misunderstanding, and are addressing this with our mall team and Allied Barton, our security provider, to ensure this does not occur in the future."
More than anything, Tate said she hopes others will remember that children with disabilities are just that — children.
"All children need to be included, whether they have a disability or not,” she said. “They need to be included – they are children. They need to have that opportunity to play and be around other kids," she said, adding that she hopes the incident serves as a lesson to others.
"It’s how we teach our children acceptance and tolerance of people who are different."