Monday, January 3, 2011

Mayfair Mall: Delayed Flash Mob in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin?

Mayfair Mall (, in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, closed early yesterday afternoon. A large crowd of "unruly" teens smashed glass, damaged merchandise - but didn't manage to hurt themselves or anyone else. Happily.

That last is the good news. The bad news is that there's quite a lot of damage done: and quite a few kids who seem to need a reality check. In the Lemming's opinion.

So far, that's the gist of what's been released. The police weren't releasing many details of the incident. Or, rather, the Lemming didn't find any updates in the news, as of about 10:45 a.m. Central today.

Here's some of what the Lemming did find, with the inevitable comments:

Mayfair Mess: a Personal View

"No fun at Mayfair"
Todd Bragstad, Milwaukee BizTalk blog, The Business Journal (January 3, 2011)

"What my family and I witnessed on late Sunday afternoon at Mayfair Mall not only turned our stomachs, it turned us off.

"After watching throngs of young people congregating unchecked in the corridors on both the mall's upper and lower levels as we shopped, we had just paid for some items in the accessories department in the lower level of Boston Store when things got crazy.

"After hearing a commotion toward the center of the store, I looked over to see a white-cloaked cosmetics clerk yelling “stop it; get out of our store.” A line of kids were shouting and following each other single-file up and down the stairs and escalators before they raced through the store, smashing signs, knocking over displays and dodging security.

"My wife, two teenage daughters and myself...."

This blog post has the virtue of showing what happened at Mayfair Mall from 'inside:' and not edited down to a sound bite by reporters and editors.

The Lemming also appreciated this bit of background:

"...Mayfair's management and owners, General Growth Properties Inc., Chicago, took a lot of heat in 2007 when it enacted its parental guidance policy, a rule that requires mall visitors age 17 and under to be accompanied by an adult 21 or older from 2 p.m. to closing on Fridays and Saturdays. Unfortunately, it did not include Sundays...."
(BizTalk blog)

Mr. Bragstad doesn't specify who complained about the parental guidance policy, back in 2007. It could have been teens who didn't like restrictions; or it could be folks closer to the Lemming's age, who never quite got over the '60s. 'Responsibility' isn't the four-letter word it used to be, but it's still occasionally inconvenient. And that's another topic.

Mayfair Mall News: Making the Most of Few Details

"'Group Of Youth' Causes Disruption At Mayfair Mall In Wauwatosa"
WISN, Milwaukee (January 2, 2011)

"Very Few Details About Incident Being Released

"Few official details are being released about an incident that occurred at Mayfair Mall on Sunday around 5:30 p.m.

"Wauwatosa Mayor Jill Didier told 12 News there was 'definitely a disruption' that forced the mall to close early.

"A customer inside Boston Store during the disruption described what she witnessed to 12 News.

" 'A crowd of like 50 to 60 kids just came barreling through the upstairs door at Boston Store, knocking down everything they could touch. They went running down the stairs. All that we heard was glass breaking. There was security yelling to every manager to lockdown the doors, lockdown the mall, lockdown the store,' the customer said.

"That customer sent a few photos to 12 News that show mannequins and items knocked down inside Boston Store...."

The WISN article has an embedded video, and a link to photos of the Mayfair Mall damage.

The Lemming sympathizes with folks in the news business, when something like the Mayfair Mall mess happens and there aren't all that many important facts to report. WISN did a pretty good job of it, in the Lemming's opinion.

Moving along.

Mayfair Mall: Early Report and Why Earwitness Testimony Need Salt

"Mayfair Mall closes early after tumult"
Meg Jones, Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel Online (January 2, 2011)

"Unsubstantiated reports of gunfire received

Mayfair Mall photo by Rubina Shafi, via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel"Mayfair Mall closed down early on Sunday afternoon as New Year's weekend shoppers were told to leave after witnesses reported seeing groups of unruly young people shouting and running in the Wauwatosa shopping center.

"There also were unsubstantiated reports of gunfire.

"Elsa Mercado was trying on clothes in a fitting room at Ann Taylor Loft when she heard loud noises. Her sister was at another store, and when Mercado tried to leave to check on her, she discovered she was locked in as some of the stores brought down their security gates.

" 'Someone was pounding on our door and saying, "Please let me in. There's gunfire." We unlocked the door and let him in. He was very frightened, he was very pale,' said Mercado, who used her cell phone to call 911.

"Mercado said the 911 dispatcher asked her location.

" 'They wanted to know where I was; it seemed like they had gotten a lot of calls throughout the mall,' said Mercado, who saw a group of rowdy young people she estimated to number around 100. 'It was happening throughout the entire mall. It was not isolated to one part of the mall.'

"A Mayfair Mall official said in an e-mailed statement late Sunday that the behavior of a group of young people was isolated and there were no injuries.

" 'What occurred this afternoon appears to be a group of youth intent on disrupting the shopping experience at Mayfair. The safety and security of our visitors are always our top priority. This behavior is isolated and we will not condone it,' Mayfair Senior General Manager Steve Smith said in the statement...."

"Gunfire!" Or, rather, "unsubstantiated reports of gunfire."

There's a difference. The Lemming discussed eyewitness testimony last year:The Lemming hopes that Mayfair Mall's Mr. Smith is able to carry through on his assertion: "....This behavior is isolated and we will not condone it."

It's nice that nobody got hurt this time: but broken glass and damaged merchandise costs money to repair or replace. Folks working at the closed shops may not get paid for the time they'd have put in, if the young nitwits hadn't misbehaved: and the Lemming remembers what being a few hours short on a weekly paycheck can do to a household.

Bottom line: yesterday's activity at Mayfair Mall was not exactly a harmless prank. How much property damage and lost wages there was isn't clear yet: but a whole lot of folks got more than just inconvenienced.

For the sake of the kids involved, I hope that they're given an opportunity to pay for the cleanup and reimburse the folks whose jobs they interrupted. And that they learn how to behave around people who aren't their own circle of acquaintances.

Maybe that sounds "judgmental," or the more up-to-date "hateful." The Lemming doesn't think so: but that's just the Lemming's opinion.

Delayed Flash Mob at Mayfair Mall?

"Police foil planned mall flash mob"
Odd News, UPI (December 30, 2010)

"Police in Wisconsin said they foiled an attempted freeze tag-playing flash mob event on one of the year's busiest shopping days.

"Wauwatosa police said managers at Mayfair Mall became concerned after learning 130 Tosa West High School students joined a Facebook group organizing a flash mob -- a group of people assembling in a public place to perform a pre-arranged activity -- to play freeze tag at the mall Dec. 23, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday.

"Police said the students in the Facebook group were issued one-day bans from the mall on the intended day of the event and the four teens who organized the Facebook group agreed to call it off...."

Maybe this is why the police have been so quiet about yesterday's incident. In their position, the Lemming would be looking very carefully at connections between the flash mob that didn't happen on Friday, and the vandalism that did on Sunday.

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