San Francisco Chronicle
Mall hikes security after brawls
After two large altercations last week involving dozens of teenagers and young adults at the Stonestown Galleria shopping center, San Francisco police will increase patrols in the area and the mall will beef up its own security starting Monday, officials said Sunday.
Supervisor Myrna Melgar, whose district includes the mall along 20th Avenue on San Francisco’s west side, said that there were two large incidents in the mall over the past week — one involving around 50 people early in the week and another involving about 100 on Friday. She said that Friday’s events resulted in two victims, both minors, with injuries.
The mall has gotten increasingly chaotic in recent weeks, she said, with many youths being “disrespectful, rude and running around breaking stuff,” in the lead-up to the large brawls last week.
Police on Sunday declined to confirm the number of incidents and people involved in the events over the past week, but said they would be increasing patrols in response to the violence.
“This display of violence in the mall is not a common occurrence,” Public Information Officer Robert Rueca said in an email on Sunday night. “We have increased patrols in the area and will immediately address any criminal acts of violence.”
A spokesperson for Brookfield Properties, which owns the mall, confirmed that the large fights had happened and that the mall would be increasing security, adding that the company does “not tolerate this terrible behavior.”
Video posted on social media showed a large group of teens on the second floor inside a mall that the post identified as Stonestown, many pushing and kicking each other, before one person ended up on the ground. Several others then are seen repeatedly kicking and stomping on the victim before clearing out.
Melgar said in a telephone interview Sunday that the mall typically fills up with students from the neighboring schools after 3 p.m. on weekday afternoons, many of them getting beverages and snacks.
“Stonestown is really our town square here,” she said. “Everyone hangs out there.”
But she said fights are often streamed on social media, which she fears is part of the driving force behind them — with the attention and clicks that the violent videos attract encouraging students both to post the fights and get involved in them.
“It’s fueling this kind of activity,” she said. She added that students also may not be navigating conflict well after going through the upheaval and social disruption of the pandemic. She warned parents on Twitter to keep a close eye on what their kids are doing.
“Monitor your kid’s social media and follow what they are doing,” she wrote. “There is no substitute for that.”
Besides the increased police patrols, Melgar is hoping that the school district makes use of resources allotted through Proposition G for safe, healthy after-school activities that give students a place to go and can help “take some of that edge off,” she said.
She said she is working with the city’s Department of Children, Youth and Their Families to figure out how to better address students’ needs.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure Stonestown is safe,” she said. “We all have to work together.”