Sunday, January 4, 2015

Longstanding Unaddressed Problems Created Castleton Incident

Castleton Square Mall
Photo from visitindy.com
Yes, there was an incident at Castleton Square Mall last night. Yes, it was unacceptable. Yes, it should not happen, and we must take steps to make sure it won't happen again. Let's have some real talk for a minute.

What happened is not going to chase me out of Indianapolis. Heck, it's not even going to change my shopping habits because I haven't been to Castleton Square Mall in at least 10 years, but it's not because of anything other than I hate the traffic on that corner of town.

I was, however, at Greenwood Park Mall just on Saturday and frequent Metropolis Mall, Circle Centre, and shops in Avon.

You take a risk every time you pull into traffic folks.

The fact is that IMPD could not substantiate any of the rumors of shots fired and did not apparently make any arrests. It was an unruly crowd that they successfully dispersed.  I'm not saying this was no big deal, but three of the four major news organizations in town that broadcast an 11:00 p.m. newscast spent three minutes or less on this "shopping brawl" because there wasn't more to the story than an unruly crowd that got out of hand.  

Channel 13 even led with a fatal house fire.

If we really want to talk about what happened at Castleton last night, it comes down to we have thousands of young people in this community that have not a lot for them to do.  Many times sporting events are priced out of their range, and, for whatever reason, school events just don't attract them.  So, on the final weekend of Winter Break, you end up with a ton of teenagers and/or young people unsupervised in a shopping mall.  Need I say more?

Here's some more truth.  This issue has been percolating for years, and this is not something that just cropped up.  In fact, similar problems have plagued this mall and other malls in Indy and across the United States. 

Mayor Ballard's vaunted crime plan does nothing to address what happened at Castleton Square Mall. There's nothing in there to address teens and at-risk youth beyond the "Your Life Matters" program. It doesn't address that we have many youths that have nowhere to go or nothing to do and parents that would rather drop them off at a place and let someone else do the watching. Pre-K investment may eventually pay off, but these young people are here now with nothing to do but need something to do.  I'm not blaming Mayor Ballard...I'm just saying. At the risk of putting more on the plate of the schools, perhaps that's where some of these messages need to be targeted.

It even seems like mall owners are choosing profits over shopper safety.  As Abdul-Hakim Shabazz points out, perhaps Simon Malls could do more to help out IMPD by instituting a tougher policy on young people roaming their properties unaccompanied.  That still requires some sort of enforcement, and I haven't seen a lot of Paul Blart, Mall Cops, on the scene lately.

Let's not totally blame the teenager.  As I'm sure many of you can recall from your own background, when I was 15-16-17 years old, I went out and did things on my own with my parents' blessing. I had a curfew or a strict pick-up time, and I knew my butt was grass and my dad was the lawn mower if I caused trouble.

My bet was that the majority of the kids at Castleton last night were in the same boat as I was.  They were largely good kids out to have fun.  It's always the knuckleheads that ruin it for everyone, and it is clear that the knuckleheads were out last night at Castleton.  It's fair to ask...where were the parents of these knuckleheads, and why don't they have the home training necessary to be trusted in a situation where they can be left alone with other young people for a few hours?

For the record, I was with hundreds of young adults doing the right thing last night at a basketball game at Ben Davis High School.  If you give students and kids worthwhile activities, they will rise to the expectations. 

Credit and kudos to IMPD for their work last night in dispersing that unruly crowd without incident or injury.  All the video I saw showed them working in a very professional manner.

2 comments:

Abdul said...

Jon,

This wasn't an example of kids being bored. There was quite a bit of chatter on social media that ended up with the fight at the mall.

johnnystir said...

IMPD discounted that last night in official media reports.