Del Amo Mall, and the Outside

Del Amo Mall, and the “Outside”

It was late December of last year, just a few days after Christmas. We arrived early and decided to walk around and look at some stores. Everything was going like a usual day at the mall until a large group of people began to form a circle around the mall, even gaining the mall police’s attention. 

But we thought nothing really of it, just that we needed to be careful in case something would happen. We eventually returned towards the theater when suddenly, about ten feet away, a huge commotion began to form. At first I didn’t think anything of it because every now and then someone will start to yell for their friend or a mother yells for their toddler to run back to them. But then out of nowhere, I heard the words “Get em!” 

I swiftly turned around and saw what appeared to be a small group surrounding a security officer and one of the boys in that group hit him directly in the head. Not wanting to find out what would happen after, we turned around and began to walk the other way, yet more and more yelling began to occur and people started frantically running. Unfortunately, we were unsure if someone had a weapon of any sort to attack other security personnel, so we decided to leave. Luckily I was able to refund the tickets in time.

Only a few days later the mall had shut down. About three to four helicopters were seen circling around the mall and its surrounding area from what I was able to see from my balcony. Another story began to develop and news stations had started to put out their pieces. It was rumored that a facebook group with about 150-200 people, or possibly more, were plotting to make their way into the mall to destroy and loot it.

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Unfortunately, this is the sad reality of what is happening to many public places for many different reasons. Which oddly enough, this continues to happen years later. But what really causes is large and obvious  issue, because there are a growing number of children losing their places to go outside. What was once a safe shopping center where you could even let a group of elementary school students run around and return completely fine, is now a gamble whether or not a fight will break out, with the uncertain risk of being beat up or stabbed. As stated from the ABC 7 article on Del Amo Mall.

It is truly horrible, and we really choose nothing to do about it. Yes, there are recreational centers and parks along with other now seemingly safer locations to visit, but does the average teenager, like me who did all of those things when they were little, want to keep going to the park and try to play with kids four times smaller than them? Absolutely not, and as a quote from “The Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People: Processes, Practices and Policies for Youth Inclusion.” states that, “Young people represent a vital citizen group with legitimate rights to occupy and shape their public environments, yet they are often driven out of public places by adult users, restrictive bylaws, or hostile designs.”

There are notable examples that illustrate how young people and everyday citizens alike can be driven out of public places, such as through hostile architecture, with benches having metal bumpers or divots to prevent skaters, and handrails having uneven surfaces to prevent a board from using it as a rail. Or even adding “detail or design” to a bench which in actuality are spikes to prevent people from sleeping on them. While this may work for certain communities, what about people who just want to sit on a bench, or perhaps lay down to catch their breath? Just sitting on the benches, like a normal thing to do, feels odd when there’s an unnecessary lump or large screw attempting to deter homeless or skaters from using it. What about the fact that they can’t even be used for their original purpose?

The point is, we do so much to benefit ourselves, that we ignore what will happen around us. Whether it is looting stores, or making seats, that don’t even have their main feature, seating. If we do not wake up and realize that we are just stroking to the fire of problem, it will continue to burn what we once knew.

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