California Plagued by Hundreds of Teens Storming Malls Across the State

News & Politics

What started last summer as a social media challenge has morphed into a major challenge for California shop owners, police, and teens.

Hundreds or even thousands of teens descend on one mall and mill about, blocking access to stores, getting into fights and generally raising holy hell. One 16-year-old kid was shot during a disturbance involving hundreds of teens at the Pike Outlets in Long Beach. Another teen was stabbed in the Bay area as a mob of teens descended on a mall in Emeryville. 

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The sheer number of teens who show up at these “takeovers” is alarming. Thousands of teens have confronted police at a fashion mall in Torrance, closing streets for hours. They planned to repeat the event this weekend.

“I wanted to make our community aware of information we received about a planned `takeover’ by youth from around the County this Saturday at the Del Amo Fashion Center,” Torrance Police Chief Jay Hart announced on Friday. “We have seen this type of activity play out in community after community. Most recently, the `takeover’ at the Pike (in Long Beach) led to outbreaks of violence and a shooting nearby.”

Another takeover was planned at the South Bay Pavillion.

“The Carson sheriff’s station and the South Bay Pavilion security team are prepared and have taken positive steps to provide all a safe environment and experience,” according to the statement. “Any unruly, unsafe, harmful or criminal behavior will not be tolerated.

Patch.com:

Authorities, shop owners, and teens, alike, aren’t quite sure why these unruly gatherings are happening with increasing frequency at malls around California. However, many signs point to a social media challenge inspiring large groups of teens to create the disturbances.

What may have started last summer as a nationwide social media challenge, has ballooned into a major problem for some Golden State shopping centers.

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“We need our partners in the schools, in our places of worship, in community-based organizations, and at home to come alongside these kids and guide them to the path of being a good citizen and a good neighbor,” Torrance Police Chief Jay Hart said. “Investment in our youth is an investment in making our communities thrive.”

The mall is taking steps to rein in teens by establishing a new policy.

“We are establishing a Youth Supervision Policy as an enhancement to our existing safety plan and to deter activity that is disruptive to our community,” Del Amo Fashion Center’s property owners said in a statement. “The program is in response to feedback from the community and community leaders, as the center reinforces its commitment to the community to provide a pleasant, family-friendly shopping environment.”

The new policy will require all visitors under the age of 18 to be accompanied at all times by a parent or an adult age 21 or older after 3 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Not only will kids stop coming to the mall, but ordinary shoppers are likely to take a pass as well.

Teenagers at Del Amo Fashion Center told Patch that while the first gathering was part of the social media challenge, the second gathering was inspired by how much attention they got the first time. The teens said the call-out was posted on Facebook.

Many shopping centers around the country have reported similar instances of teens gathering as part of the same social media challenge, according to investigators.It started in August when brawls broke out at shopping center movie theaters in California, New York, Boston, Illinois, Georgia, Indiana, New Hampshire and Connecticut on National Cinema Day Sunday.

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Most internet challenges disappear eventually. But don’t fear. I’m sure young people will find something else to rattle our cages before too long.

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