Mall read­ies its teen cur­few

Towson Town Cen­ter re­stric­tions sched­uled to take ef­fect to­day

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Pamela Wood pwood@balt­ twit­

The pres­i­dent of the Bal­ti­more County chap­ter of the NAACP said he re­mains con­cerned that a new cur­few to start to­day at the Towson Town Cen­ter mall might be dis­crim­i­na­tory, but he ac­knowl­edges that there has been no out­cry against it.

“Usu­ally, when peo­ple are up in arms about things, we get a num­ber of phone calls — and we haven’t,” Tony Fugett said Thurs­day.

The mall plans to bar un­ac­com­pa­nied mi­nors from the cen­ter af­ter 5 p.m. Fri­days and Satur­days.

Mall of­fi­cials said the pol­icy, called “parental guid­ance re­quired,” is aimed at cut­ting down on un­ruly be­hav­ior by young peo­ple.

The pol­icy has been em­braced by elected of­fi­cials, busi­ness lead­ers and some mall pa­trons. But the NAACP and the Mary­land Com­mis­sion on Civil Rights say it might amount to age dis­crim­i­na­tion.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the civil rights com­mis­sion met with mall man­age­ment last week. Mall of­fi­cials said Thurs­day that they had agreed to keep their dis­cus­sions pri­vate and de­clined to com­ment. Com­mis­sion of­fi­cials could not be reached Thurs­day.

Fugett said the cur­few might dis­crim­i­nate against teens in gen­eral and mi­nor­ity teenagers specif­i­cally. He said he’s been study­ing po­lice data on calls for ser­vice at the mall and con­sult­ing with the ACLU to see if there’s any le­gal re­course, but no de­ci­sion on pos­si­ble ac­tion has been made.

Bal­ti­more County Coun­cil­man David Marks, who rep­re­sents Towson, said the mall’s neigh­bors sup­port the cur­few.

“My con­stituents have been uni­ver­sally happy with this de­ci­sion,” the Perry Hall Repub­li­can said. “They think it helps with pub­lic safety. It will help with the gen­eral peace of mind with shop­pers and busi­ness own­ers.”

Marks was among those call­ing for a pol­icy on teenagers af­ter an in­ci­dent in De­cem­ber in which young peo­ple threw rocks at po­lice of­fi­cers. One teen was charged as a ju­ve­nile with sec­ond­de­gree as­sault on a po­lice of­fi­cer.

Marks said he plans to visit the mall to­day to see how the first night of the pol­icy goes.

An­nounce­ments about the pol­icy are to be made over the mall’s pub­lic ad­dress sys­tem start­ing at 4 p.m. Fri­days and Satur­days. Se­cu­rity guards and off-duty po­lice of­fi­cers are to be sta­tioned at the mall’s 19 en­trances at 5 p.m. to check iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Up to four mi­nors can be ac­com­pa­nied by a par­ent or other adult who is 21 or older.

Young peo­ple who are older than 17 will be given the op­tion of wear­ing a wrist­band when they are in the mall af­ter 5 p.m. Teenagers who work at stores in the mall will be given wrist­bands.

Towson Town Cen­ter joins a grow­ing list of busi­nesses that re­strict un­ac­com­pa­nied teens.

The Cine­mark movie the­ater at Towson Square bans any­one younger than 17 with­out an ac­com­pa­ny­ing par­ent af­ter 9 p.m. The Av­enue at White Marsh and the Hunt Val­ley Towne Cen­ter, both open-air cen­ters, re­quire teens to be ac­com­pa­nied by adults af­ter 9 p.m.

Mar­ley Sta­tion mall in Glen Burnie pro­hibits teens younger than 16 to be in the mall with­out an adult af­ter 5 p.m.

Of­fi­cials at the Chicago-based Gen­eral Growth Prop­er­ties, which owns Towson Town Cen­ter, say they de­cide on parental guid­ance poli­cies on a mall-by-mall ba­sis. The com­pany’s other lo­cal sub­ur­ban malls — White Marsh Mall and The Mall in Columbia — do not have poli­cies about un­ac­com­pa­nied teenagers.

Gen­eral Growth’s Mon­dawmin Mall in West Bal­ti­more does not al­low any­one younger than 18 with­out an adult be­tween 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on school days.

The mas­sive Mall of Amer­ica in Min­nesota es­tab­lished a pol­icy on un­ac­com­pa­nied teens in 1996. At least 100 malls and shop­ping cen­ters have some ver­sion of a teen cur­few pol­icy, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Coun­cil of Shop­ping Cen­ters.

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