In Memphis, somebody yelled “gun” and teenagers started running through the mall. Fights broke out..
In Aurora, Colorado, a mall had to be evacuated because of multiple incidents. Then, when police were making an arrest a crowd estimated at 500 people closed in and fights broke out.
Cleveland police had to use pepper spray after crowds led to fights in a suburban mall.
200 teenagers were running around and fights broke out in Fort Worth, forcing stores to lock down.
Similar scenes played out in 12 states on Monday. The common denominator seems to be… social media. The chaos may have been “loosely organized on social media,” according to Cleveland area police in the LA Times.
It wasn’t the typical incident. Something about this seemed different.
“Even the officers that were up there sensed that something was different. They just sensed that something was in the air, per se, that something didn’t seem right.” – Manchester, Connecticut Capt. Christopher Davis in the NY Times.
Social media is so embedded in our culture now that even if the fights weren’t organized by using Facebook or Twitter, the message spread fast. How else do you explain 15 malls having similar incidents on the same day at roughly the same time in unconnected cities? Was it organized on social media, or was the spread of the commotion using social media enough to spur others on?
“At this point, we cannot make that connection. We do not have any evidence to show that our incident is related to any of the incidents that happened around the country,” Aurora Police Sgt. Chris Amsler to 9News.
While police may not have any evidence, nearly simultaneous breakouts in 15 malls all showing up on social media on the same day might suggest there was a connection.