Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has declared that the method of preventing violence in shopping malls is to hire off-duty police officers of color. As reported today in the Toledo Blade:
"We feel Westfield did not really heed the advice and counsel that they were being given," he said. "We urged more security be put in place by Franklin Park. We urged consideration be given to hiring additional Toledo police officers off-duty. We did encourage that some of those officers be of color."
So, if I understand this, the city is now in the business of human resources. Apparently if young disaffected youth see a African-American or Mexican-American face, they will immediately throw away their plans for theft, disruption, and riot. How foolish of Westfield not to realize this when hizzoner’s commission issued that dictate.
Violence in shopping malls is not isolated to Toledo. The Mall of America in Minnesota was known as “Fight City” when thousands of teenagers at a time would show up ready for violence. Violence need not occur on a regular basis for the business to suffer – look at the result of Northtowne and Southwyck malls, both of whom could have been described as “gang friendly” as they slid into decline. Many such malls have had youth violence problems, even with security officers “of color.”
The one thing that seems to work is youth curfews in malls. These are instituted by the management of the mall in question, not enforced by the city. What this would require, however, is management willing to enforce the issue, and a city willing to deal with charges of trespass (it IS private property) and disturbing the peace. Perhaps some hefty fines for violators – and let the miscreants pay for their own prosecution.
I can hear the ACLU and others grinding their gears at this suggestion, but I propose this: does someone have a “right” to commit violence? The right for assembly guaranteed in the First Amendment is the right of “people to peacefully assemble.” By any standard, theft and violence do not qualify as peaceful. But this right is only in effect in public. And, the Westfield Town Center is not owned by the government, hence it is private property – where the public is welcome, within limits. Simply post the new rules, and that “Mall Management reserves the right to refuse admittance.” Then, Carty can station a couple of squad cars outside and wait for the trespassing fines to roll in. We might even reduce the city deficit!
Margaritas ante Porcos,
Right Wing Toledo