I was racially profiled at Disney Springs. What to do if it happens to you.

grillman89

Earning My Ears
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
I'm new to this board, so I'm not sure if this is the right forum to post in, but I wanted to share my recent experience at Disney Springs to help others who feel they were racially profiled.

I'm a college educated, 58 year old minority. I'm a grandfather. I wear shorts and solid colored shirt, nothing loud or outlandish. I have short salt and pepper hair. I've never felt that I was ever racially profiled or discriminated at any Disney theme park. My wife and I recently went to an AMC movie at Disney Springs. It was very crowded because it was the $5 movie night. As I came down the Orange parking garage stairs, I noticed two security guards dressed in all black standing with a K9 at the Splitsville restaurant doors, approximately 350 feet from me. I noticed one of the guards immediately eyeballing me, staring me down as I reached the bottom of the stairs, his dog wasn't looking in my direction. My wife and I had to walk close to the storefront opposite Splitsville because it was so crowded, approximately 75 ft from where the guards were.

As we reached AMC, I tripped on something, it was the paw of the K9 that was close behind me. The guard who was eyeballing me was standing there. I didn't notice a badge. He asked if I was carrying a gun, I said no. A small crowd noticed what was going on and someone took a picture. I was carrying a small backpack and offered it for inspection, but he said it wasn't necessary. He made some comment about pet hair on my shirt, I guess to insinuate that's what the K9 smelled and why he stopped me. He then walked away. Ok, I'm to believe that from 350 ft away and with about 100 people walking between us, that dog alerted the officer to eyeball me because he smelled cat fur on my shirt? Then why wasn't the dog looking in my direction when the officer first eyeballed me? Don't dogs usually look in the direction of something they're trained to detect? The only difference between me and the crowd between us was that I was a minority.

The incident left a bad taste in my mouth, so the next day I reported the incident to Disney security. They said their K9 guards only wear blue shirts and it may have been an Orange County deputy. I called them and they said their K9 officers wear a green uniform. However, sometimes other local departments supplement the Orange County Sheriff Dept during busy times. To get to the bottom of this, I had to file a claim with Disney. That was the only way Disney would launch an investigation, so I did and waiting for the results. Once they identify the officer, I intend to file a misconduct complaint with his department's internal affairs office. The footage from Disney's surveillance cameras will leave little doubt to the conduct of the officer.

Racial profiling is repugnant in any form and NO ONE has to tolerate it. I was advised what to do next time and I'm sharing this information if it happens to you:
1. CALMLY, ask why you were stopped and get the name, badge number and department of the guard/officer.
2. Note the time and location.
3. File a claim with Disney's claims department. They will launch an investigation. If you just notify the complaint line, they'll read it, but there's no guarantee of a follow up. You must file a claim for any serious action to be taken.

Disney doesn't want the sheriffs and police officers who work on their property to racially profile and harass their minority guests. If they do, report them immediately. It's the only way to weed them out. Disney carries a lot of weight, if they don't want a particular officer on their private property, they can make it happen.

On a side note, the Orange County Sheriff I spoke with said the extra security was due to the recent mass shootings in Ohio and Texas and perhaps that's why I was stopped and questioned about carrying a gun. First of all, those shooters were both white males in their 20's. The Parkland FL shooter was a white male in his 20's. I'm a 58 yr old minority grandfather, I hardly fit that profile.
 
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BaymaxFan78

Ba-La-La-La-La
Joined
Mar 10, 2019
This is very odd but I don't think its racial profiling. Disney has a tendency of profiling random people no matter what. Especially after a terrorist attack or shooting. I was at Animal Kingdom once (I'm a young white male) and there was no crowd around me and I got a pat-down. Keep us updated on what Disney says.
 

TinkerDust10

Making Magic
Joined
May 17, 2013
Of course because BaymaxFan78 got patted down that racial profiling couldn't possibly exist on Disney grounds. When someone who in a crowded area is singled out by race and is asked do you have a gun, there is a problem and Baymax78, you were not singled out in a crowded area and was asked do you have a gun.

I am sorry this happened to you. I will tell you my experience, not with police but with a cast member. I am a minority with two children. We headed to Epcot for the morning. We are passholders and have been for years. We were standing in the passholder line as the cast member kept yelling "this line is only for passholders", the line wasn't long as we were the last family standing in line to enter the park. As I stood there looking at her, she asked me are you guys passholders. I replied yes, otherwise I wouldn't be in this line. She replies well I am just checking. Just checking? The first thought that came to my head was does she think I cant afford an annual pass. And yes we were the only minorities in line. Just checking? Isn't that what the kiosk is for? To indicate whether or not I am validated to enter the park? Since the line is a passholder's line I am sure it would've sent off some notification if I was not a passholder when I scan my band. Anyway I wanted to share my experience with you as I could relate to some capacity and not try to diminish your experience like Baymax78. As we may walked this earth no matter what we do in life and no matter how we view ourselves, their racist views about us will never change.
 
  • goopysolelady

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 16, 2008
    This is very odd but I don't think its racial profiling. Disney has a tendency of profiling random people no matter what. Especially after a terrorist attack or shooting. I was at Animal Kingdom once (I'm a young white male) and there was no crowd around me and I got a pat-down. Keep us updated on what Disney says.
    "I hear you" ::yes::! On our July '18 trip (we were celebrating our 47th wedding anniversary and we're both "white and OLD" :rotfl:) either my husband or myself were pulled out of the "crowd" to be patted down almost EVERY time we entered the park. Doesn't bother us a bit; we'd rather Security be extra careful than sorry. The safety of our family is more important to us than getting into a park quickly. We appreciate their very difficult job of keeping thousands of people safe in this crazy world we now live in. :tink:
     

    eric1985

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2017
    As an officer myself...I'm a bit curious. Did he actually pat you down?

    I've been on Disney property a lot and naturally ask a lot of questions of the deputies I see there about the security operation. I do know that Disney has dogs specifically trained to detect firearms and explosives. I have never seen a Sheriff's dog on property personally.

    I have seen the firearms related dogs at Disney Springs, park entrances and at the monorail stations doing quick sweeps of the car interiors. Two neighboring agencies where I work have explosive and accelerant detecting dogs and they have told me that the dogs are pretty good even from a distance. Another K9 handler has told me that his dog has alerted to a bag that had recently had a firearm in it.

    I would find it odd if the officer asked you if you were armed and then didn't pat you down. If the dog alerted then they would have probable cause. That also being said, I know that the Sheriffs department has body cameras, but I'm unsure about Disney security. K9 officers have to keep meticulous records on their dog's performance.

    I know that the Pulse Nightclub shooter had expressed interest in attacking Disney Springs so I'm sure that they're paranoid about security there and I really have no idea how they keep it protected without a checkpoint.

    As to your particular situation...its tough to say. I'd think the officer would explain why he thought you were armed. I find that in this day and age I have to explain things very clearly when I am going to take action. People get upset with all police officers now, but the majority are doing the right thing.

    The only things that I can think of are the following: Had you handled any type of accelerant recently? Sparklers or even gasoline? Do you walk with a limp or were guarding one side or was your belt line uneven or pants weighted down on one side? Did the officer explain that they had a issue and you may have somewhat matched the description?

    While it's possible you were profiled, it seems that there are a lot of people of all colors that patronize Disney. If an officer was always profiling minorities it seems like that would be a lot of people and a pattern would stick out. And honestly, I dont think the main focus is a man in his fifties. It's tough to say what a mass shooter looks like, but the perpetrators lately seem to be younger white men....not that Disney should be letting their guard down in any specific area.

    I'll end my rant there and look forward to hearing what the officer did after he asked you if you were armed.
     

    Welsh_Dragon

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Feb 23, 2019
    I'm new to this board, so I'm not sure if this is the right forum to post in, but I wanted to share my recent experience at Disney Springs to help others who feel they were racially profiled.

    I'm a college educated, 58 year old minority. I'm a grandfather. I wear shorts and solid button down shirts, nothing loud or outlandish. I don't have dreadlocks, I have short salt and pepper hair. I've never felt that I was ever racially profiled or discriminated at any Disney theme park. My wife and I recently went to an AMC movie at Disney Springs. It was very crowded because it was the $5 movie night. As I came down the Orange parking garage stairs, I noticed two security guards dressed in all black standing with a K9 at the Splitsville restaurant doors, approximately 350 feet from me. I noticed one of the guards immediately eyeballing me, staring me down as I reached the bottom of the stairs, his dog wasn't looking in my direction. My wife and I had to walk close to the storefront opposite Splitsville because it was so crowded, approximately 75 ft from where the guards were.

    As we reached AMC, I tripped on something, it was the paw of the K9 that was close behind me. The guard who was eyeballing me was standing there. I didn't notice a badge. He asked if I was carrying a gun, I said no. A small crowd noticed what was going on and someone took a picture. I was carrying a small backpack and offered it for inspection, but he said it wasn't necessary and walked away. The only difference between me and the crowd between us was that I was a minority. My son's friend's father is the chief of police in a local town, I told him about the incident and asked if I was being paranoid or was I profiled. He said he didn't know, but at 350 ft, it's impossible that the K9 could have detected anything suspicious on me that would have triggered the guard to immediately stare at me, especially with the crowds walking between us. He said it's very rare, but some K9 officers have used their dog as the PC (probable cause) to stop and harass minorities because their K9 "detected" something. In my case, it's obvious that it wasn't the dog that instigated the stop, it was the guard.

    The incident left a bad taste in my mouth, so the next day I reported the incident to Disney security. They said their K9 guards only wear blue shirts and it may have been an Orange County deputy. I called them and they said their K9 officers wear a green uniform. However, sometimes other local departments supplement the Orange County Sheriff Dept during busy times. To get to the bottom of this, I had to file a claim with Disney. That was the only way Disney would launch an investigation, so I did and waiting for the results. Once they identify the officer, I intend to file a misconduct complaint with his department's internal affairs office. The footage from Disney's surveillance cameras will leave little doubt to the conduct of the officer.

    Racial profiling is repugnant in any form and NO ONE has to tolerate it. I was advised what to do next time and I'm sharing this information if it happens to you:
    1. CALMLY, get the name, badge number and department of the guard/officer.
    2. Note the time and location.
    3. File a claim with Disney's claims department. They will launch an investigation. If you just notify the complaint line, they'll read it, but there's no guarantee of a follow up. You must file a claim for any serious action to be taken. In my case, I stated I am not interested in any compensation, I just wanted them to identify the officer involved.

    Disney doesn't want the sheriffs and police officers who work on their property to racially profile and harass their minority guests. If they do, report them immediately. It's the only way to weed them out. Disney carries a lot of weight, if they don't want a particular officer on their private property, they can make it happen.

    On a side note, the Orange County Sheriff I spoke with said the extra security was due to the recent mass shootings in Ohio and Texas and perhaps that's why I was stopped and questioned about carrying a gun. First of all, those shooters were both white males in their 20's. The Parkland FL shooter was a white male in his 20's. I'm a 58 yr old minority grandfather, I hardly fit that profile.
    I am very sorry that this happened to you.
     
  • vacationer1954

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 27, 2010
    I'm new to this board, so I'm not sure if this is the right forum to post in, but I wanted to share my recent experience at Disney Springs to help others who feel they were racially profiled.

    I'm a college educated, 58 year old minority. I'm a grandfather. I wear shorts and solid button down shirts, nothing loud or outlandish. I don't have dreadlocks, I have short salt and pepper hair. I've never felt that I was ever racially profiled or discriminated at any Disney theme park. My wife and I recently went to an AMC movie at Disney Springs. It was very crowded because it was the $5 movie night. As I came down the Orange parking garage stairs, I noticed two security guards dressed in all black standing with a K9 at the Splitsville restaurant doors, approximately 350 feet from me. I noticed one of the guards immediately eyeballing me, staring me down as I reached the bottom of the stairs, his dog wasn't looking in my direction. My wife and I had to walk close to the storefront opposite Splitsville because it was so crowded, approximately 75 ft from where the guards were.

    As we reached AMC, I tripped on something, it was the paw of the K9 that was close behind me. The guard who was eyeballing me was standing there. I didn't notice a badge. He asked if I was carrying a gun, I said no. A small crowd noticed what was going on and someone took a picture. I was carrying a small backpack and offered it for inspection, but he said it wasn't necessary and walked away. The only difference between me and the crowd between us was that I was a minority. My son's friend's father is the chief of police in a local town, I told him about the incident and asked if I was being paranoid or was I profiled. He said he didn't know, but at 350 ft, it's impossible that the K9 could have detected anything suspicious on me that would have triggered the guard to immediately stare at me, especially with the crowds walking between us. He said it's very rare, but some K9 officers have used their dog as the PC (probable cause) to stop and harass minorities because their K9 "detected" something. In my case, it's obvious that it wasn't the dog that instigated the stop, it was the guard.

    The incident left a bad taste in my mouth, so the next day I reported the incident to Disney security. They said their K9 guards only wear blue shirts and it may have been an Orange County deputy. I called them and they said their K9 officers wear a green uniform. However, sometimes other local departments supplement the Orange County Sheriff Dept during busy times. To get to the bottom of this, I had to file a claim with Disney. That was the only way Disney would launch an investigation, so I did and waiting for the results. Once they identify the officer, I intend to file a misconduct complaint with his department's internal affairs office. The footage from Disney's surveillance cameras will leave little doubt to the conduct of the officer.

    Racial profiling is repugnant in any form and NO ONE has to tolerate it. I was advised what to do next time and I'm sharing this information if it happens to you:
    1. CALMLY, get the name, badge number and department of the guard/officer.
    2. Note the time and location.
    3. File a claim with Disney's claims department. They will launch an investigation. If you just notify the complaint line, they'll read it, but there's no guarantee of a follow up. You must file a claim for any serious action to be taken. In my case, I stated I am not interested in any compensation, I just wanted them to identify the officer involved.

    Disney doesn't want the sheriffs and police officers who work on their property to racially profile and harass their minority guests. If they do, report them immediately. It's the only way to weed them out. Disney carries a lot of weight, if they don't want a particular officer on their private property, they can make it happen.

    On a side note, the Orange County Sheriff I spoke with said the extra security was due to the recent mass shootings in Ohio and Texas and perhaps that's why I was stopped and questioned about carrying a gun. First of all, those shooters were both white males in their 20's. The Parkland FL shooter was a white male in his 20's. I'm a 58 yr old minority grandfather, I hardly fit that profile.
    Thank you for sharing your experience and for sharing the advice you received.
     

    eric1985

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2017
    "He asked if I was carrying a gun, I said no. A small crowd noticed what was going on and someone took a picture. I was carrying a small backpack and offered it for inspection, but he said it wasn't necessary and walked away. "

    This strikes me as odd. He went all the way over to ask if you were armed, presumably he had some reason to ask or saw something out of the ordinary and just took your word that you weren't carrying a gun? If a police officer is going to stick his neck out and investigate something of this nature, I feel like he'd go all the way or do nothing at all. Not walk up and ask if you have a gun, you say no, then he walks away. Doesn't seem to add up.
     

    yaya74

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 18, 2006
    To the OP, I am sorry about that happened and how it upset you. But, as a minority myself, I would want to believe that the guard was just doing his job and not racially profiling you.

    As a middle-age woman of minority who was not born and raised in this country but has children born and raised on this land, I have learned to turn off the racial radar and just enjoy everyday of my life. My husband, who is also a minority, often gets pull out for further security check at Disney check point during our trips . My kids and I would make fun at my DH and say how daddy needs to "clean up" a bit or learn how to walk better and we continue to enjoy our day. It's not just the security guard but many people would make assumptions based on my skin color. My family recently stayed at a resort and we were the only family of minority there while the rest of the people at the resort were Caucasian. Some staff thought I couldn't speak English when they saw me. Some asked me where my family were from and were surprised to hear that we live in NJ, not from a country overseas. I sometimes get annoyed but learn to let it pass so I can enjoy my day.
     

    BaymaxFan78

    Ba-La-La-La-La
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2019
    @eric1985 They usually have dogs at or near every entrance into Disney Springs. Like once you get off of the escalators from the parking garages, for example.
     
  • Hisgirl

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 8, 2011
    It could have been your shirt and the way it was draping. I know they look for conceal carries that way. My husband, who is not a minority, gets pulled aside ALL THE TIME NO MATTER WHERE WE GO. We also have a young friend from the UK who gets pulled aside every single time. Also not a minority. Heck, I'm a mama and grandmom, not a minority, and I get pulled aside. A lot. It happens. I know racial profiling can happen, especially with middle eastern folks at airports, but getting questioned and inspected happens to a lot of us.
     

    stewart715

    #KEEPFIGMENT
    Joined
    Apr 5, 2019
    So, hold on one second: do you think minorities are supposed to be or should be exempt from random inquiries/searches?

    Meaning, if you are a minority and subjected to one, that is automatically racial profiling? What a ridiculous statement.

    The man asked you one question and that was it. What's the problem?

    I am sure if you followed that officer all day you will find he approached many white people as well. Just because someone asks you a question and you happen to be a minority doesn't make it racial profiling.
     
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    cakebaker

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 27, 2013
    Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm pretty sure being racially profiled is one of those "you know it when you see it" things. As one who is rarely targeted, I wouldn't presume to question what you believed happened. I am sorry you had to experience that. It happens all too often in this country to dismiss these incidences and you did the right thing to pursue it.
     

    stewart715

    #KEEPFIGMENT
    Joined
    Apr 5, 2019
    I'm pretty sure being racially profiled is one of those "you know it when you see it" things.
    Wow, I didn't realize mind reading was so prevalent in our society. The fact is, no one here, including you and including OP, has no idea what caused that officer to approach him. Gut instinct or not, it is an assumption. And frankly the story told here is mild at best. He was asked a question.

    For all we know, the officer was going off of a "tip" from another guest who was racially profiling him. Accusing the officer of doing so based on the sole evidence of "he approached me and asked me a question" is just absurd.
     

    eric1985

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2017
    I think before we jump to racial profiling, we need more information. There is NO WAY I as a police officer would walk up to someone and ask them if they're armed without having some sort of information that they were armed or acting suspiciously. If I did ask, I wouldn't take that person's word that they didnt have a weapon and just let them walk away. If I had enough suspicion to ask the question then I would have enough to pat them down (browse Terry vs. Ohio on that). Any officer worth their weight in gold would thoroughly explain what they are doing and why they are doing it. "Sir, I noticed a bulge near your waistband...my dog alerted to you...ect. It may be nothing but in order to keep Disney safe i need to do a quick check as there have been issues with weapons being brought to this property in the past." If nothing is found..."sorry for holding you up. Have a good day. " Going the extra mile to explain why you are taking the action you are usually defuses most problems. But you can't please everyone and officers can't be afraid to do their jobs just because the person happens to be a minority. I find that most officers are more and more hesitant to take action against minorities out of fear of a complaint. Disney Springs has to be on high alert because it is open without a normal checkpoint. If people continue to complain, maybe it will just come down to just checking everyone.
     

    cakebaker

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 27, 2013
    Wow, I didn't realize mind reading was so prevalent in our society. The fact is, no one here, including you and including OP, has no idea what caused that officer to approach him. Gut instinct or not, it is an assumption. And frankly the story told here is mild at best. He was asked a question.

    For all we know, the officer was going off of a "tip" from another guest who was racially profiling him. Accusing the officer of doing so based on the sole evidence of "he approached me and asked me a question" is just absurd.
    I did the exact opposite of mind reading. I don't think any of us was there and I take the OP at his word. Usually those apt to be profiled can identify it quicker than those of us who rarely, if ever have it happen.
     

    Welsh_Dragon

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Feb 23, 2019
    If I did ask, I wouldn't take that person's word that they didnt have a weapon and just let them walk away. If I had enough suspicion to ask the question then I would have enough to pat them down (browse Terry vs. Ohio on that). Any officer worth their weight in gold would thoroughly explain what they are doing and why they are doing it. "Sir, I noticed a bulge near your waistband...my dog alerted to you...ect. It may be nothing but in order to keep Disney safe i need to do a quick check as there have been issues with weapons being brought to this property in the past." If nothing is found..."sorry for holding you up. Have a good day.
    But according to the OP the ‘officer’ didn’t do anything like this.... doesn’t that in itself suggest that the OP was being harassed? And as for the people taking photographs 🤮.

    What ever happened surely people should try (at least) to empathise and not attempt to belittle an OP or disprove his account?
     

    grillman89

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Aug 9, 2019
    To those wasting time poking holes in my story, my post wasn't for you. My post wasn’t an attempt to convince you I was racially profiled nor convince you it even exists. I’m wasn't seeking validation from anyone nor do I need it. I was there, you weren't.

    My post was intended for and to help people who felt they were legitimately profiled based on their race on Disney property and what actionable steps are available to them. Things I wish I knew before. I made the mistake most people would make by first contacting Disney's compliant line. If it weren't for a helpful Castmember, I would never had known about filing a claim, which would result in an investigation whereas merely lodging a complaint would likely go unanswered.

    Racial profiling is a pattern, if people don’t stand up to it and hold those accountable by reporting it, then they’ll keep doing it to others. I doubt a guard would be fired for 1 or 2 complaints, nor should they, but a dozen complaints would show a pattern. If you want something to be done, you have to file a claim with Disney:

    1. Ask the officer why you were stopped. CALMLY request the officer’s name, badge number and department. Don’t assume they are Disney security. If they’re not wearing a blue shirt, they’re probably not.
    2. Note the time and location. See if there are any visible cameras. Write down what he said while your memory is fresh.
    3. File a claim with Disney.
    4. You will be assigned a case number and receive a call the next business day.
    5. You will be asked to give a recorded statement.
    6. They will initiate an investigation and they WILL respond with the results of that investigation.

    This was an officer from a local department or private security company, not Disney security. Disney can control which officers patrol their property and/or speak to that officer’s commanding officer about his conduct.

    For those who questioned my motivation…

    —NO, when I am pulled and patted down at the airport, I don’t think I’m being profiled.
    —NO, I don’t believe people of color should be exempt from random inspections, nor do I think they should be singled out and stopped based solely on the color of their skin.
    —NO, when I’ve been pulled over for a traffic infraction, I don’t assume I was profiled. I give the officer the benefit of the doubt.
    —NO, I don’t believe all police are racists. I don't hate the police. I respect them and the hard job they do.
    —NO, when I’m asked to walk through a metal detector after my backpack was inspected at a Disney Park, something done randomly to some guests, I don’t think I’m being profiled.
    —NO, the officer did not offer an explanation why he stopped me. He pursued and stopped me to ask if I was carrying a gun. When I said no, he made some comment about pet hair on my shirt, I guess to insinuate that was what the K9 smelled. I offered him my backpack for inspection, he refused. Then he walked away with his dog. Okay, so I'm to believe the dog, without looking in my direction, smelled something suspicious on me from 350 ft away with about 100 people walking between us? The only eyes on me were the officer's, he was laser focused from the moment he saw me.
    —NO, I was not wearing loud or conspicuous clothing. There was no bulge under my shirt. I was wearing tan shorts and a solid colored shirt. I don’t have facial hair. I have short, salt and pepper hair. I don't walk with a cane or limp. I didn't handle gasoline or other flammable substances recently.

    —YES, I was racially profiled. That officer immediately eyeballed me from 350 ft away before I got to the bottom of the stairs and his K9 wasn’t looking in my direction. He then made a beeline to me through a crowd of 75-100 caucasians to stop and question me if I was carrying a gun, that is called racial profiling. He offered no explanation why he stopped me.

    When someone locks eyes on you and stares you down, even at a distance, you know it. If the K9 was the probable cause to stop me and legitimately detected something on me, wouldn't the officer be obligated to search me or my backpack when I offered it to him? Are K9 officers trained to ignore their dog's alerts and just accept a subject's denial that they have a firearm? So I doubt the K9 detected anything. He just saw a minority and decided to go after me..

    I go to Disney Springs frequently with my family. After all the mass shootings, I wish there was MORE uniformed security personnel. But that’s not a license to condone blatant racial profiling.

    Some have suggested that in light of recent events, stopping me was justified. Let’s face it, if the officer’s motivation for stopping me that night was the recent mass shooting events, what would the shooter profile be? A lone white male in his 20’s or a middle-aged, minority male walking with his wife? Just saying.
     
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