In a drive against teenagers who intimidate other shoppers, a major mall near Detroit is starting a curfew that aims to keep unruly kids out and eager consumers in. Fairlane Town Center in Dearborn, the second-largest mall in Michigan, will bar people 17 and younger from entering after 5 p.m. daily unless they’re accompanied by an adult 21 or older. The Detroit Free Press says it is part of a nationwide trend of curfews for kids at shopping malls.
On Friday and Saturday nights at Fairlane, 2,600 teenagers roam through the mall at any given time, said the center’s security director, Arnold Wicker. Most don’t shop, and 25 to 300 are ejected each night for disturbing the peace. Many are blacks; the mall in predominantly white Dearborn is less than a mile from mostly black Detroit. Race has been an issue at Fairlane when the death of a black man at the hands of a black security guard in 2000 sparked controversy and protests from black Detroiters. The man was with a group the guard suspected of shoplifting.
Fairlane General Manager Catherine O’Malley, who is white, said the move has nothing to do with race and that the policy will be applied equally to all people. In recent years, the mall has turned into a “baby-sitting service,” where parents drop off their kids and leave them unsupervised, said O’Malley.
Across the U.S., malls are adopting curfews, said Patrice Duker of the International Council of Shopping Centers. The gigantic Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., in 1996 required youths under 16 to be accompanied by a parent or guardian 21 or older after 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights.
The Michigan branch of the American Civil Liberties Union said the new Dearborn mall policy infringes on the rights of both children and parents. “We’re generally opposed to curfews that treat all minors as if they’re criminals,” said Kary Moss, executive director. James Netter, a civil rights activist, said the problem is that many youths don’t have recreational facilities after school, and so end up going to malls.