Monday, January 5, 2015

Castleton Square Mall Unrest Leaves More Questions Than Answers

If you live in the range of the Indianapolis/central Indiana news agencies, you've probably heard about the unrest that occurred Saturday night at Castleton Square Mall. An hour before the mall closed for the night, fights broke out among youth who were in the food court area. It spilled into one of the parking lots. Media reports vary among how large the fight was or how many were involved.

This video from WTHR, while nothing of the actual fight, shows the crowd control that happened afterwards and shows some skirmishes happening among the crowd while police were present.

It is important to note that this occurred during the end of the Christmas Break in the academic calendar.

I think there are several important questions that need to be answered from all parties. That includes, but is not limited to:

  • Simon Malls, which owns and operates Castleton Square Mall
  • The powers-that-be in Indianapolis-Marion County politics
  • The Indianapolis community at large
  • The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
  • The Indianapolis Media

Simon Malls has repeatedly refused to enforce any type of curfew policy in their Indianapolis area malls and properties, including Castleton Square Mall and Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indy. When Simon Malls used to run Mall of America, they instituted a curfew policy which allows those 15 and under to be escorted by an adult of 21 years of age or older during the weekend evenings. This policy still stands today.

Our elected officials, and those that give them money and essentially run this city, should really be taking a hard look at Simon Property Group. They are a major beneficiary of all sorts of tax incentives from the city and the state. Maybe some of those incentives should come with strings attached.

Also, where is the social media presence from Simon? Where is any type of media presence? The few media types that were able to reach someone at Simon were met with "no comment." Their Twitter accounts for the individual mall and the Simon Malls are empty. This does not look good, and with no comment or guidance from Simon, the narrative is being set by the media. And it ain't pretty.

Both the powers-that-be in Indianapolis-Marion County politics and our community as a whole have collectively failed to provide an environment where people between the ages of 14 and 20 can go and find something to do in a safe, drug free environment that doesn't break the bank. In his Indianapolis Recorder column from two years ago, Amos Brown writes that "every mayor since Steve Goldsmith has worked to stamp out activities that would appeal to today's teens". As someone who was a teenager not that long ago, that was my experience. I'm certain the same is still true today.

I'm not a cop, but I know a few. When I ran for council in 2011, I was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 86. So I'd like to think I have a good understanding of what law enforcement in Marion County is up against. I'd like to think I can empathize with them even if I don't agree with what they did or how they handled something. But I am completely confused as to how a brawl can break out, that requires police to be called, and not a single arrest is made.

This just to me. I'm sure there is a logical explanation. But to me, just hearing that, it seems off.

IMPD also needs to work on being more certain before putting out statements. Several times IMPD said they had some advance knowledge of something being planned for the Castleton Mall area, with Fox 59 WXIN calling it "social media intelligence". IMPD later said they had no advance knowledge of it. Which makes me wonder what is their "social media intelligence" division like, and if their was any evidence to suggest that this unrest at the mall was partially planned, why wasn't it discovered in advance?

Finally, to my friends in the media. A couple of area news agencies published headlines saying "shots fired" (you can make out the original headline in the URL rather than what the headline text was later edited to). That turned out not to be true, and other news agencies covered their asses by saying "Reportedly" or "witnesses". It is sometimes hard to be a good judge of character when covering a chaotic crowd. But sometimes, it pays to be a bit more patient rather than to have egg on your face.


  1. "collectively failed to provide an environment where people between the ages of 14 and 20 can go and find something to do.." Its not the City responsibility to baby sit other peoples kids. However, the VAST majority of kids in that age group seem to find places to go that DON'T cause problems.

    "I am completely confused as to how a brawl can break out, that requires police to be called, and not a single arrest is made." Thats because the ppl involved in the fight or brawl RAN away when the One Cop got there.

    I think the focus of your blog should be on "Why Do "Some" Black Kids Act This Way In Public Places". "Why Do Such a Very Small Percentage Of Black Kids Continue to Be Disruptive in Public Places?"
    "Why This VERY Small Group of Black Kids Make Black/White/Asian/Hispanic uneasy when they are shopping at this Mall"

    This should be your narrative, pointing to the people who are causing the problems in the first place.

    1. I think if the city can get in the business of providing luxury athletic stadiums, they can shell out a few bucks for community centers to hold events as well, or at least not treat places that do as outcasts. However, I think the responsibility is on all o us, not just the municipal government.

      You're right, most kids do stay out of trouble. That doesn't mean they aren't bored and don't want to leave the city the second they have the ability to do so. That doesn't negate the fact that the city, over several administrations, has treated all ages "dance halls" as if they are a breeding ground for terrorism. Or that there really isn't a lot for the "can drive but can't drink" crowd to do in this city.

      So the fight ended and everyone was peaceful and no one was doing anything bad at all the very split second the first cop showed up? For a fight reportedly of as many as 200 people in a parking lot? There's people even getting into skirmishes in one of the news videos I linked to. With cops seemingly having responded pretty quickly, I don't understand how a single arrest was made. I don't think there were 200 people who were stirring shit and then all 200 ran away. In Castleton, which isn't exactly a place you can just walk away from.

      I think there's a lot missing from this story, but I don't think we'll ever really know because most have moved on.

      I think there's plenty of places you can get the viewpoint you want, Hug.


Please see the Indy Student Blog Policies page for the full policy on blog comments. Verification of comments by typing in a random word is required to prevent spam. Due to recent blog inactivity, comments are now pre-screened to prevent spam advertisement.