Two sisters were escorted from a mall in King of Prussia, Pa., on Sunday because they were wearing hats reading "F--- CANCER" with the "C" in the expletive replaced by a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon, the Philadelphia Daily News reported.
Zakia Clark, 29, and Tasha Clark, 27, said that they were wearing the shirts to honor their mother, Jackie Underwood, who had passed away on May 14 at the age of 51 after a battle with breast cancer.
The women, both from Philadelphia, were at the King of Prussia Mall with a group of friends and relatives, shopping for a dress for Zakia's daughter to wear to their mom's funeral. After two-and-a-half hours of shopping, the women were approached by a security guard in the mall's food court.
Zakia told the Philadelphia Daily News that the guard approached them without a greeting and said, "‘Take your hats off.'"
Zakia removed her hat, but Tasha – a former mall employee – asked to see something in writing.
"He said, 'Since you don't want to take your hat off, you can leave my mall,'" Zakia told the Philadelphia Daily News. "He stood there while we ate and threatened to call the cops."
The women stated that seven more guards then approached them and escorted them to the mall office.
"I was very embarrassed," Zakia told the Philadelphia Daily News. "My daughter was so scared she was crying."
At the mall office, the women were met by a police officer who had been called by mall security.
"The officer said, 'I find it offensive that you even have that hat that says 'F--- CANCER,' " Zakia recalled. "He said, 'It's their mall, they want you out, you have to get out.'"
The women were escorted out of the mall, and two security cars waited by the sisters' car until they left.
After the Philadelphia Daily News looked into the incident, Les Morris, a spokesman for Simon Property Group in Indianapolis, IN., which owns King of Prussia Mall, called Zakia to apologize.
"Certainly this could have been handled in a much more empathic and sensitive manner," Morris told the People Paper. "We're very sorry about her loss and wanted to apologize for the way her party was treated."
"I do think this is an entirely different situation than a 16-year-old kid with a swear word on his T-shirt cruising the mall," Morris said.