CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) - A petition with more than 8000 signatures has been established to urge Concord Mills and its parent company, Simon Properties, to adopt a curfew for unsupervised children.
The effort comes following a violent incident that took place on Saturday night involving dozens of people.
According to the Concord Police Department, a "large group of juveniles and young adults engaged in disorderly conduct which became physical." The Charlotte Observer reported that there were groups of teens fighting both inside and outside the mall, near Dave & Buster's and the AMC Concord Mills 24 movie theater.
The Observer said the incident occurred around 9:01 p.m.
Law enforcement officials and mall security "quickly" dispersed the crowd, Concord police said. Even though officers received a report that shots were fired at the mall, there was no sign that gunshots were fired and no one was shot, according to police.
Sanida Sabanija of Concord created the petition on the change.org website.
"I started the petition to make Simon Property Group understand the severity of this situation and demand a change," Sabanija told WBTV. "Upon speaking to them yesterday I now understand they're not interested in the betterment of this community which has graciously accepted them into our fold. They've informed me they will be handing out pamphlets informing parents of the Code of Conduct. This is absolutely infuriating and highly irresponsible considering the sheer amount of violence at the mall. The next step would be to continue to drive this point home with Simon Property Group by contacting their vendors and demanding change."
Sabanija hopes to get 10,000 signatures for the petition.
WBTV contacted Simon Properties and, as requested, emailed a list of questions regarding the curfew proposal and how the mall plans to deal with any issues of unsupervised children.
Late on Wednesday there was a reply from Concord Mills. It did not address any of the questions that WBTV asked, or acknowledge the petition.
It did spell out how the mall was dealing with the recent episode of violence:
At Concord Mills, the safety of our guests and employees is always our top priority, and we are committed to providing a safe, secure shopping environment. To accomplish this, the center takes many proactive security measures, including maintaining a 24-hour patrol of the mall and surrounding parking lots. Concord Mills also maintains a close working relationship with the Concord Police Department, which has a precinct on property, and we collectively employ a comprehensive public safety program, which includes both visible and behind-the-scenes security measures.
During their investigation of Saturday's incident, the Concord Police Department confirmed that there was no evidence of shots fired during the altercation on property, and that the noise reported was caused by a large, metal sign holder falling during the incident. It is unfortunate that social media chatter suggested the situation was more serious than the evidence revealed.
As outlined in the Simon Code of Conduct, Concord Mills has a zero-tolerance policy for individuals who engage in disruptive behavior on our property. Copies of the Code of Conduct are posted at all entrances. To reinforce our commitment to the Code of Conduct, security officers will also be distributing copies to guests this entire weekend. Concord Mills takes the safety and security of our guests and employees very seriously and will not tolerate any kind of violent, disruptive behavior on the property.
Concord Mayor Scott Padgett said that he believed mall management and Concord Police would work towards a solution, but said much of the responsibility belonged with parents.
"I'm sure the Management at Concord Mills and our Police Department will work together to come up with a plan for safety. The real issue is why were there young people who were dropped by their parents and left with no supervision/ parents should be more responsible," said Mayor Padgett.
Northlake Mall does have a policy when it comes to unsupervised young people:
Guests age 17 and under are required to be accompanied by and remain with a parent or legal guardian at all times after 5 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.*
Unsupervised youth age 17 and under shopping prior to 5 pm on Friday and Saturday evenings must leave the mall by 5 pm or be joined with a parent or legal guardian.
Proof of age will be required for the youth and supervising adult. Those who fail to produce proper identification will be asked to leave the property.
Proper identification includes a state issued driver's license or ID card, a passport, or a military ID. The identification must include a photograph, date of birth and be tamper proof.
One adult may accompany up to 3 youths. The supervising adult must remain with the youths at all times.
Supervising adults are responsible for the actions of the youth they accompany and must ensure they are following the mall's Code of Conduct.