Many local residents are upset about certain signs that have been posted up in some uptown businesses recently, which they say racially profiles the indigenous community in their own hoods.

“DO NOT ENTER WITH HOODIE OR MASK,” reads the signs posted in various businesses in Upper Manhattan, warning, “IF SO YOU ARE NOW TRESPASSING.”

Unsurprisingly, the contentious nature of these signs has chafed members of the community, with residents opining that these signs exploit post-Trayvon Martin anxieties to unfairly target consumers of color on the basis of race and targets lifelong residents of the historically Black community.

“This is all part of gentrification,” determined cultural critic La Meh Nua. “It’s what happens when we allow people foreign to our communities to come in and [exploit] us. They start dictating to us, sayin’ we’re not allowed in their stores, but they’ll take our money through a window!”

Native Philadelphian Joe Stark has been approaching small businesses in cities throughout the Northeast region since concocting the idea, guessing that he’s sold a couple thousand signs along the way. He believes that their visibility helps deter shoplifters.

“We’re trying to put robbers and shoplifters on notice,” he said. “When you get a guy walking into a store and he has a hood up, a mask up, it can be a scary thing.”

The signs have come under scrutiny from some customers.

“How can cops enforce that?” chided Nua. “They’re gonna take me in front of the judge and say ‘lock him up for wearing a hoodie in a store?’”

Princess Johnson, a local citizen, relayed to CBS News that she and her newborn child were recently harassed and forced out of a Harlem grocery store on the grounds that they were both wearing hooded sweatshirts at the time. “I’m tired of people of color being viewed as criminals for wearing hoodies,” said Harlem resident Andrew Padilla. Padilla went on to explain to website DNAinfo that the banal act of wearing a hoodie shouldn’t be a factor when determining a person’s character, stating indignantly ,“If wearing a hoodie makes you a criminal, I should’ve been locked up years ago.”

Local business owners said they have yet to enforce the policy against their customers, and that the signs do more good than harm.

“No hoodie is extreme, but no mask is good,” expressed Ali Haaj, a manager at Kings Deli (2407 Fredrick Douglas Blvd.). “Everybody complains about it.”

Some see the bigger picture.

“You don’t want me rocking hoodies in your store, put it where your people live,” suggested Nua. “You wasn’t complaining about no hoodie six or seven years ago. We know the real reason it’s an issue now … [because] your main customers are different now!”

Despite critical pushback from community leaders and members alike, the signs seem to have only risen in popularity. A recent report found the signs stretching from 126th to 129th streets, in addition to rapidly diffusing out to other similar areas of the city, including Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene and parts of the Bronx and Queens. When asked to describe the intention behind the sign, Stark asserted said that the signs can’t be racist because criminals “can be Black, white, brown, yellow, blue or green.”

The signs have sparked legislative conversations as well. This past Tuesday, Harlem Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright dispatched a strongly worded statement publicly expressing his support for a bill that would, in his words, wholly “prohibit discriminatory acts against persons wearing hoodies.”

“Racial prejudice and bigotry have reached a new low,” said Wright. “To prohibit someone from expressing their freedom to wear whatever clothing they choose would be unconscionable in any other community. Yet time and time again, we see exceptions to our constitutionally protected freedoms being made in communities of color. How many times and how many ways must we, as parents, educators and elected representatives, stand up and demand that our sons, our daughters and every other citizen be protected against biased rules and discriminatory practices that destroy their quality of life?”

Still, despite the growing protestations, many shopkeepers plan to keep the signs right where they are—in their windows. “It helps us know who is in the store,” said Jose Abreu of Bravo Supermarket, a popular bodega frequented by shoplifters almost as much as they are by regular patrons. “When people steal, we check them on the camera so that next time they come in, we know who they are.”

But to local residents such as Tyqwan Haskins, the offenses greatly outweigh the benefits. “It makes me feel like they are targeting me,” Haskins told DNAinfo. “Why are you targeting? I’ve been spending money here for five years. Don’t you know me?”

While some businesses state that they see the signs as a way to curb crime, others argue that there are no legitimate reasons to prevent a person from entering a public place solely on the basis of their garments.

Wright addressed the issue in a statement: “Every person deserves to go about their lives without being stereotyped or otherwise discriminated against because of another’s ignorance. It is past time that we focus our efforts on addressing the real causes of crime in our society and the fact is, crime is not what you look like, or what you wear, it is what you do.”

Legal analysts Ronald L. Nesbitt, CEO of Open Doors for Life, added, “That’s another form of discrimination. A lot of people go jogging, so that means they would be restricted from certain stores in our own communities. Unless a person stole from their store prior to that, they don’t have legal grounds to prevent that person from coming in. They can’t discriminate based on their clothes.”