The Baltimore County Council discussed a resolution Tuesday encouraging White Marsh Mall to adopt a curfew for underage teenagers on Friday and Saturday evenings in response to a fight over the summer during which police arrested seven minors and two 19-year-olds.
Council members Cathy Bevins, David Marks and Todd Crandell sponsored the resolution, which would urge the mall’s management to adopt a curfew requiring youths under the age of 17 be accompanied by an adult, age 21 or older, after 5 p.m. on weekend nights.
The measure is nonbinding. That means it could encourage mall officials to act, but would not legally require them to do so.
The Aug. 9 fight began in a bathroom at the food court, then quickly escalated, drawing more than 36 Baltimore County patrol and aviation officers, as well as Maryland State Police. Michael Forrster, 19, of Baltimore, was charged with assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and trespassing. Tyrell Rigby, 19, of Baltimore, was charged with disorderly conduct and other charges.
Brooksfield Property Partners, the company that owns White Marsh Mall, currently does not have plans to implement a parental-guidance-required program at that location, said spokeswoman Lindsay Kahn in an email Tuesday.
Bevins, Marks and Crandell told fellow council members during Tuesday’s council work session that they believe a curfew would keep patrons and mall employees safe.
Samuel Jordan, president of the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition, spoke against the resolution.
“The message that White Marsh Mall needs beefed-up security, it’s a suggestion that perhaps it’s better for me to go elsewhere and to take my youngsters elsewhere to shop,” Jordan said. “That’s the wrong message.”
Jordan asked council members to let private businesses handle safety decisions internally.
He said he has spoken with mall officials about instead starting a peer ambassadors program. The program would feature eight young people of diverse backgrounds acting as mediators at the mall in hopes of identifying and diffusing disputes before they become conflicts, Jordan said.
While Jordan’s suggestion was praised by council members, Bevins bristled when Jordan suggested she and Marks had advocated discontinuing bus service to the mall.
“No, we didn’t,” Bevins said.
Bevins, a Middle River Democrat, and Marks, a Perry Hall Republican, asked the Maryland Transportation Authority in August for more buses to pick people up Friday and Saturday evenings in the mall circle and behind The Avenue, but also to end late-night service at a stop near The Avenue, The Baltimore Sun reported at the time. The request drew criticism from Baltimore politicians, who said reducing bus service was a racist reaction.
Bevins said she was insulted by the accusations of racism.
“Anyone that knows me knows I never think that way,” Bevins said. “Around 40-50 youth wreaked havoc. I didn’t know until Monday morning that the kids didn’t live in the county.”
Jordan said his organization decided to get involved with the council’s response to the fight when transportation became part of the discussion. People in the city and the county rely on late-night transportation to get home from service industry jobs, he said.
“We didn’t hear anyone else standing up for Baltimore,” Jordan said. “People are being labeled as invading, violence-prone youth.”
Bevins and Marks said they want Brooksfield Property Partners to replicate the curfew it has in place at Towson Town Center for the White Marsh Mall.
The seven-member council is scheduled to vote Monday on the resolution.