Minnesota's giant shrine to the gods of mass retail, the Mall of America, erupted into a 200-person melee last night. Thirty police stormed the premises, putting the entire mall on a temporary lockdown. The mallrats are rebelling!
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that "young people" started the brawl at "about 4:20 PM." What started as a single fight in the food court snowballed into an anarchic mob that ripped through the corridors of post-holiday sales:
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.
Hundreds were pulled into the mob. "Lots of punches were thrown." After an hour of arrests and crowd control, the violence abated, but not before it scared shitless an entire generation of Midwesterner mall-goers:
"I was on the third-floor railing and saw a massive group of people [on the first floor]," said Makenzie Shofner, 15, of Maple Plain. "It looked like they were trying to pull people's stuff out of their bags."
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. ... "We were held in the stock room for about 10 minutes."
Jennifer Reiland of Burnsville said in an e-mail that she was in Chico's about 5 p.m. when she heard an announcement that the mall was in "lockdown mode" and people rushed into the store. Chico's and a nearby Apple store locked their doors with customers inside.
Initial reports that Drake and Lil' Wayne were somehow involved in the mob (as this YouTube video claims) have been debunked. It is noteworthy, however, that ambient screams of terror are actually the norm at MoA, which has an amusement park with a roller coaster in its center:
Hannah Betz, 16, also of Maple Plain, said the rampage was incredibly loud. "I'm used to screaming" from [the amusement park], "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.
Terrifying, but also kind of thrilling? I spent roughly fifty percent of my high school years loitering outside the Auntie Anne's pretzel shop in the western corrido, and shit this exciting never happened. Of course, flash mobs hadn't yet been invented; back then, teen rage was channeled into more primitive atrocities, like raves. [Star Tribune]