Nolan Rosenkrans and Jon Chavez, Toledo Blade, January 6, 2015
Hanging out at the mall instantly became less cool for teenagers on Monday, when Franklin Park Mall officials said that anyone 17 or younger must be accompanied by an adult on mall property after 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Mall officials said the new policy is not a response to any specific event and is a proactive move taken after conducting research among shoppers, retailers, and the Toledo community. But the change follows a weekend incident where police tried to remove a large group of people from the mall when a fight broke out, leading to several arrests and a minor injury to a police officer.
Toledo police records show that at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, officers tried to move a crowd of “100+ people” who were loitering in the mall after a movie had ended. A fight between two unnamed youths broke out, prompting an officer to grab them by their hair in an effort to stop the fight.
A third person attempted to flee, and a police officer injured his leg after using a “take-down” maneuver, according to police records. The officer was taken to Mercy St. Anne Hospital for treatment. Police said four people in the “large disorderly crowd” were arrested and later released to their parents, with charges of resisting arrest and obstructing justice filed.
In recent weeks, large groups of teenagers have caused ruckuses in Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Chicago-area malls, prompting some to place similar restrictions on teens.
Such parental-escort policies are not new for malls, said Malachy Kavanagh, a spokesman for the New York-based International Council of Shopping Centers. Minneapolis’ Mall of America, the country’s largest mall, was one of the first to implement such a policy in 1996, prompting complaints from some that the decision was at least in part racially motivated.
A supervising adult–someone 21 years or older–can escort up to six underage youths throughout the mall, but the adult must remain with the youths at all times. Those who are underaged and unsupervised or who cannot provide proof of age will be asked to leave the property, mall officials said.