January 16, 2013
We’re glad that no one was seriously harmed during a recent incident at the Mall of Louisiana in which hordes of teens gathered at the mall on a Saturday evening, creating crowd control problems within the popular shopping area. The gathering was an apparent response to a mass invitation on Instagram, a popular Internet social network.
Law enforcement agencies responded to the scene in response to reports of fighting, which led to a stampede of patrons rushing to the exits.
The mall was evacuated and law enforcement officials directed juveniles in the mall to an open area where they waited for parents or guardians to pick them up. Mall officials closed the mall for the evening in response to the incident.
Several juveniles have been arrested in the incident, and the investigation is ongoing.
The response to the incident, along with efforts to keep everyone safe and send juveniles home, created a temporary traffic headache near the mall, but we’re relieved that no one was seriously hurt. We’re also happy that law enforcement officials appeared to respond quickly to the incident. We’re sure that law enforcement agencies learned a few things in responding to the problem, and their experience should help in responding if similar problems arise in the future.
The incident at the Mall of Louisiana was a testament to the growing power of social media in our world. Like any tool, social media can be an instrument of great good — and occasional mischief. The new reality of social media will mean new challenges for law enforcement officials.
We see no easy or quick answers for dealing with incidents such as the mass gathering at the Mall of Louisiana. The gathering certainly underscored the need for vigorous security at the mall. The incident prompted Baton Rouge Mayor Pro Tem Chandler Loupe to renew his call for a tighter curfew for teens in Baton Rouge. Such a measure would have had little effect on the mass gathering at the Mall of Louisiana, but Loupe framed his curfew idea as a possible first step toward enhancing public safety in Baton Rouge.
The Metro Council has rejected such a change to the local curfew ordinance in the past. We tend to doubt that changing the existing curfew ordinance would make Baton Rouge safer, but we see no harm in the council revisiting this topic and having a healthy debate on the issue.