Seabreeze Amusement Park in Irondequoit, NY was unexpectedly closed this Memorial Day. For many years the historic amusement park (the fourth-oldest in the United States) has marked the unofficial start of summer on Memorial Day. The park's owners didn't provide a reason for the closure, but the Rochester Police Department said there were rumors of a large fight to take place at the park.
The rumors of a large fight were true, and with Seabreeze closed, Rochester youths were forced to find a new location for their mayhem. They settled on The Mall at Greece Ridge, where an annual charity carnival called the Greece Festival for Youth was being held, and used social networking sites to get the word out.
That night, 200 teens converged on the carnival, half wearing yellow, the other in green, and began fighting. Greece Festival of Youth Organizer Bill Selke said, "They were running around, pushing, shoving, fighting. We just can’t afford to have anybody get hurt." The charity event was closed down a week ahead of schedule, and the 20-year-old event's future is now in jeopardy.
"We just can't guarantee that nothing's going to happen," said Selke. "And since Seabreeze set the tone and closed down, if Wilmorite [the owner of The Mall at Greece Ridge] doesn't close down and something bad happens, it would be bad for them."
Police made no arrests Monday night, but Greece Police Chief Todd Baxter says his department will not tolerate youth violence. Baxter, who took office in February, says he can't afford this bruise on the town’s image and the mall's reputation. "We're looking to find out where they came from...why they ended up at our mall."
Here's a hint for Todd: The youths came from the city of Rochester. In fact, black youths from the city have been responsible for a number of large fights at the Greece mall in recent years. Black youths used to congregate at Irondequoit Mall, but their ominous presence scared off white suburbanites (who used the mall for its intended purpose - to buy merchandise - rather than to simply loiter and fight), and that mall closed earlier this decade. Ever since, city youths have been taking the bus to The Mall at Greece Ridge to spread their mayhem. Hoping to avoid a repeat of what happened to Irondequoit Mall, The Mall at Greece Ridge's owners have instituted a number of new rules for teens in recent years, to little effect.
Add Rochester, NY to the growing list of cities across the country where black youths have used social networking sites to coordinate violence in white communities. Apparently most, if not all, of the violence in Greece was black-on-black, but it's only a matter of time before these teens attack a white family that's trying to enjoy a peaceful summer day at the amusement park or the mall.