One of my daughters works at a department store at the Mall of America. After the riot was over, she texted one of her sisters:
[My department store] closed its doors. It was the scariest thing I have ever seen. Hundreds of gang members running through the Mall knocking things over. And there were fights all over! A good half of them were wearing red.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported:
A noisy, racing crowd of more than 200 young people created a chaotic scene at the packed Mall of America Monday evening, sending frightened shoppers scrambling for safety and causing some stores to close early, eyewitnesses and officials said.
It took more than an hour to quell the disturbance, which began about 4:20 p.m. as a single fight involving a large group in a food court and quickly spread through the nation’s largest mall….
Mall officials said calm was restored about 5:30 p.m. However, many witnesses reported that fights continued to flare in the mall well after that. Metro Transit police said they broke up several fights outside the mall later in the evening. That agency’s officers also monitored bus routes from the mall to Minneapolis, St. Paul and Brooklyn Center, and at a downtown St. Paul stop, four juveniles and an adult were arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct.
Mall officials said that early in the incident, they did call for a lockdown in what they described as a premature and mistaken move, but they quickly rescinded that call.
The Strib quotes several witnesses:
Several witnesses said the melee had elements of a “smash and grab” flash mob, including heavy use of cellphones. They said those creating the disturbance numbered in the hundreds and some knocked down shoppers and grabbed items from kiosks and shoppers. …
Hannah Betz, 16, also of Maple Plain, said the rampage was incredibly loud. “I’m used to screaming” from Nickelodeon Universe, “but this was a different kind of screaming,” Betz said, adding that both those rampaging and those trying to get out of their way were screaming. …
Michelle Maher of Burnsville said she was in the Coldwater Creek store when staffers herded customers into a back room, saying security had declared a lockdown.
Employees “did not know what was going on, but I called my son and husband, who … had witnessed a group of teenage men fighting,” Maher said in an e-mail. “One was beaten to the ground. Lots of punches were thrown. We were held in the stock room for about 10 minutes.
“Later, at about 5:30, we were in The Limited and saw many, many teenagers running past. We decided to leave, as it did not appear that the problems were under control at all.”
A number of YouTube videos captured some of the action, including this one:
The riot reportedly was fueled by rumors (false) that there were rappers at the Mall. The rioters descended on the Mall by bus; it is unclear whether gangs had arranged in advance to meet at the Mall to fight.
I recently read Stephen Hunter’s Soft Target, about a terrorist attack on the Mall of America. While the outcome yesterday was entirely different–no one was seriously hurt, and reportedly no shots were fired–the beginning of the riot, with screaming shoppers fleeing from gangs of “youths” amid the sound of broken glass, and people being herded into the back rooms of stores for safety, was eerily reminiscent of Hunter’s novel. The moral, I suppose, is that civilization faces various threats against which we do not yet have adequate antidotes.
UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds linked and posted responses from readers:
Reader Richard Kaul writes:
Minnesota has a shall-issue concealed carry law that’s worked well, despite the metro DFL’s prediction of street bloodbaths. But the law does allow establishments to ban concealed carry, and the Mall of America does so. Which is one reason I rarely go there. I figure I can go other places that choose not to make me an easy target.
And reader Eric Klaus writes:
It wasn’t too long ago that when a plane was hijacked, the “expert” advice was to sit quietly and acquiesce. We all know how that worked out on 9-11.
Robberies and rioting youths are still in “acquiesce” mode. Things that can’t go on forever, won’t.
I agree with all of the above.