Originally created 08/12/97

Augusta Mall studying teen curfew



Augusta Mall managers circulated a survey asking store employees if they would be in support of a curfew limiting teen-agers' run of the building even before a brawl at a food court left 11 people jailed Saturday night.

Linda Hardin, general manager of the mall, wouldn't outline results of the survey but said Monday night that management had no immediate plans to implement a curfew.

"We're reviewing the situation and we're certainly exploring that option. But we have not made a decision," she said.

Some malls in other parts of the country require teen-agers to be accompanied by an adult on the weekends or at night. The idea is to cut down on the number of young people using the buildings as a meeting place or hangout.

In the wake of the Saturday night fight, several employees at stores in Augusta Mall had heard a curfew would be instituted, they said. Most said they would prefer security be tightened.

"They don't need to keep the kids out of the mall," said Chris Smith, manager of Scotto Pizza, who said someone told him management planned to set a curfew for 7:30 p.m. "They just need to keep these groups of kids - four, five, six of them - from walking up and down. ... If security could keep a tight eye on everything, it wouldn't be a problem. But teen-agers are a big part of our business. We depend on teen-agers."

Added Veronica Seaborn, an employee at Friedman's Jewelers, located near the site of the fight: "Security needs to be drastically increased. The staff they have does a good job. There's just not enough of them."

The fight that broke out at a food court Saturday night brought more than a dozen police officers to the mall and triggered a decision to close the building 20 minutes early. Eleven people were charged with disorderly conduct - a misdemeanor - and a crowd of almost 300 bystanders egged on the combatants, said Chief Deputy Ronald Strength of the Richmond County Sheriff's Department.

Those arrested ranged in age from 18-24, he said. The fight wasn't gang-related, Chief Deputy Strong said.