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Minneapolis flash mob beatings: Police want earlier downtown curfew

With six flash mob-style attacks occurring on or near the Nicollet Mall since February, police now want to get youths off downtown streets earlier.
With six flash mob-style attacks occurring on or near the Nicollet Mall since February, police now want to get youths off downtown streets earlier.

The weekend seems to have come and gone without another "flash mob" beating in downtown Minneapolis, which is good.

But police remain concerned about the possibility of additional outbreaks of random violence and are now floating the idea of an earlier downtown curfew to get groups of youths off the streets by 8 p.m. The most recent attack happened at 7:45 p.m., but the five earlier incidents all took place after 11 p.m.

Currently, on weekends, 15- to 17-year-olds can be on the streets unsupervised until midnight. The earlier curfew proposed by police would only apply to Nicollet and Hennepin, the streets where groups of youths tend to congregate. Nicollet Mall, in particular, has been a problem area since the first flash mob-style attack occurred in early February.

Exceptions would be made for Twins games and other events, during which youths would be able to remain downtown unsupervised past 8 p.m. As is the case under the current law, youths accompanied by an adult would not be subject to the earlier curfew.

As Sgt. Steve McCarty of the Minneapolis Police Department told KARE 11: "Certainly the vast majority of kids that come downtown are not creating these problems. But we have seen in the recent weeks, there have been some problems."

Meanwhile, details continue to emerge about the mob beatings that rocked downtown Minneapolis in February and March. From the Star Tribune:

27-year-old Pieter suffered brain injuries after he was blindsided and beaten by "20 to 30 juveniles" around 11:30 p.m. on St. Patrick's Day.
27-year-old Pieter suffered brain injuries after he was blindsided and beaten by "20 to 30 juveniles" around 11:30 p.m. on St. Patrick's Day.
"I was knocked out cold," said Tony Beasley, 28. He was walking along 5th Street at 11:30 p.m. on March 16 and had just crossed Nicollet Mall. "We got surrounded by four or five kids right away," he said. "They were taunting us. They were kind of laughing."

Beasley didn't think it would turn serious, but then someone punched him from behind. They chased his friend for half a block and then dispersed. They didn't take anything from Beasley, leaving him with his phone, wallet and keys.

"They all seemed to be wearing skinny jeans and stuff that was more like skater kid stuff, which made me feel as though they were from the suburbs," he said. "It's a totally unfounded guess, but that increased my feeling that I was in no immediate danger."

Authorities told Beasley they didn't have enough evidence to investigate his case.

According to the Strib, police have made at least four arrests in connection with the beatings, but as of last week investigators were still working to figure out what links, if any, exist between the six incidents. With so little known about the perpetrators and their motivations, the earlier curfew would give police a tool to sweep possibly troublesome groups of youths off Hennepin and Nicollet before trouble arises.

The 8 p.m. curfew proposal would have to be approved by the Minneapolis City Council before becoming law.

Earlier coverage:
-- Minneapolis flash mob beatings: Victim's mother details St. Patrick's Day attack
-- Downtown Minneapolis rocked by six violent "flash mob" attacks during last two months


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