San Francisco Chronicle
Teen mall brawls prompt calls for action
A pair of violent brawls involving dozens of adolescents at a San Francisco mall have prompted a call to action to address youth violence, with a hearing on the issue proposed at the Board of Supervisors.
At least two minors were injured in the two fights at Stonestown Galleria shopping center last week.
San Francisco District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar said Monday that she plans to call for a hearing to address the issue.
In addition to focusing on the brawls, the hearing will be a discussion on violent incidents among young people at schools, on the streets, on buses and in retail stores, Melgar said.
“Because it’s not just Stonestown,” she said, referring to the two middle school students who were detained after a gun was found at James Denman Middle School; a student stabbing at Francisco
Middle School; and a 15year-old who was stabbed by a 12-year-old boy on a Muni bus, all within the past week or so.
“This whole generation came into puberty during the pandemic, and we know for a fact that they’re behind academically, and also behind socially,” she said. “And some of the kids who are more at risk are suffering more.”
Ali Phillips, a spokesperson for mall owner Brookfield Properties, said that they were “outraged by the unacceptable behavior that occurred at Stonestown Galleria.”
“We are working closely with school, city and law enforcement leadership to address this issue,” said Phillips. “The safety and well-being of our guests and tenants is our top priority and we have zero tolerance for this disruptive behavior.”
Brookfield will direct all further inquiries to the San Francisco Police Department, she said.
During a virtual public safety meeting Monday, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott described the recent incidents as “very concerning and disturbing.” He said the department will work with the San Francisco Unified School District to intervene.
“We’re working with the superintendent (of SFUSD) and others to see what we can do to work with the school districts to do what we can to turn this around,” Scott said.
Melgar did not know whether the teens involved in last week’s violent brawls were arrested, or whether the groups included students from one or several schools. She also said she did not know if the incidents were interrelated or preplanned.
Laura Dudnick, an SFUSD spokesperson, said that due to the student confidentiality policy, the district cannot confirm whether an incident involves SFUSD students if that incident happens outside of a school day and not at school.
“We know that safety is on a lot of people’s minds, both in school and out of school. District policies outline our expectations for student behavior in school,” Dudnick said. “While SFUSD’s jurisdiction is limited to our schools, we always want to be sure we are teaching students to model appropriate behavior and that there will be consequences to their actions.”
Melgar said that this past weekend, her 13year-old daughter wanted to go to Stonestown Galleria, but Melgar felt uneasy.
“I didn’t want to let her go by herself, which is something that I would normally do,” she said. “I went with her.”