Lauderhill Mall fight: Teens summoned by social media, new trend?

Lauderhill Mall fight : A group of 100 or more teen apparently responding to social media calls to gather at Lauderhill Mall erupted in a fight. It's similar to violence at several other spontaneous gatherings in shopping malls and districts around the nation.

Apparently summoned by Twitter and Facebook messages, a crowd of 100 teens gathered just outside the Lauderhill Mall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and a brawl erupted, reports the Sun-Sentinel

The brawl was similar to the fight that erupted at a mall in Chicago in February in which 19 teenagers, ages 13 to 18, were arrested after 200 teenagers started rioting. The very next month, hundreds of Chicago teens ran up and down Michigan Avenue, harassing pedestrians and shoppers. In the past six months, similar flash mobs have happened in Baton Rouge, La., Philadelphia, and New York. 

Police said 15 youth participated in the fight, but the crowd gathered and watched. A witness told UPI that “people was getting hit by [traffic] cones. Like fighting, like a brawl."

Police arrived on the scene and the group dispersed, though some teens rushed into the mall, leading building supervisors to call a partial lockdown targeting unescorted teenagers. 

A 16-year-old girl, was arrested and charged with being part of an unlawful assembly. Only one teenager was injured; a 16-year-old boy who was taken to the hospital only as a precaution. 

Police initially speculated the fight was due to two things: a previous fray between two girls and the Trayvon Martin murder case, which got off to an odd start two days ago when the defendant's attorney told a knock knock joke in court. Today, police told the Sun-Sentinel that the link between Trayvon's murder trial and the fight outside Lauderhill Mall was erroneous.

"There is no connection and nothing to support that presumption [of a Trayvon Martin trial spark]," Lauderhill Police Lt. Michael Butkus told the Sun-Sentinel.
Police are still unsure why the fight took place, he said. 

One observer, part of a construction crew at work renovating the mall during the fight, said he saw the group of  teens but they weren't doing anything that grabbed his attention.

"I just saw a bunch of kids running around," he said. "I didn't think anything of it [until] I just saw a whole bunch of police officers."

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.