A Cuyahoga County prosecuting attorney said Friday the department was aware of a social media posting threatening more chaos at the IX Center’s indoor amusement park.
David Sullivan, head of the agency’s Internet Crimes Against Children division, added that more often fights are being organized on private and/or hidden social media accounts.
A mob of teens and young adults broke out into fights March 25 at the IX Center. It was the amusement park’s opening weekend. The venue closed early that night and organizers beefed up patrols in the following days.
Now, a screen grab, posted on Instagram, threatens an “IX Bangout Part 2.” The date is April 15th. The posting said it’s designed to “make this b**** smack like y’all did on the 25th. Start riots. Knock down stands.”
“Social media definitely aggravated the problem,” Sullivan said. "10, 15 years ago, if there was a fight, it was word of mouth.”
But now they’re often organized in apps. That’s what police said happened in December, when as many as 500 people showed up to Beachwood Place Mall ready to cause drama. Similar mobs took place nationwide.
The mall instituted new rules requiring teens to have a chaperone at times, but at both Beachwood and IX, just a handful of those involved faced any charges.
“So there’s a big difference between charging a kid who swings at somebody with misdemeanor assault,” Sullivan said, “Versus maybe charging the individual who instigated the whole activity with maybe a higher level felony, like inducing panic.”
Sullivan said parents need to know what they’re children are doing online. He said that means knowing the messaging apps hiding on their phones. He showed News 5 secret apps that often look like a calculator but are really just designed to hide other apps.
"Some of these issues are caused because parents don’t know what’s going on,” he said, “And kids know they can get away with that.”
Sullivan said he’s all for pressing charges against anyone involved in large mob-style fights. The IX Center did increase patrols following that March brawl, an added presence that is expected through the amusement park’s final weekend.