On the evening of January 3 rd, hundreds of teenagers were involved in a fight at the Valley View Cinemark. This is the second incident in the past two weeks; the week before there was a similar large-scale brawl caught on camera at Beachwood Place. Attorney Ian N. Friedman believes that the similarities between these two incidents are not coincidental, and were likely staged by teens looking for notoriety online.
Attorney Friedman told Fox 8 Cleveland, "It was planned here; there's no question about it. You don't get 300 kids in one place to fight and call it a coincidence, but they're doing this for attention."
Social Media Becoming a Potentially Dangerous Outlet for Teens
Video of the Valley View fight was posted online almost immediately after the incident, and Attorney Friedman noticed that the footage was uploaded by the same person who posted video of the Beachwood fight. "The second this fight happens, they're putting it online to get acknowledgement and praise from others and that's a very scary sign for the future," Attorney Friedman said.
WKYC Channel 3 News recently aired footage of the Valley View brawl taken on a cell phone that was posted to YouTube. Police told reporters that the nearly 300 teens involved in the fight actually used social media to organize the meeting at the theater.
WKYC Channel 3 spoke with the YouTube user who uploaded the videos, who insisted that these incidents are not connected and that different people recorded the videos of the two fights. Despite these claims, Attorney Friedman believes that these incidents are both troubling signs of a disturbing trend that seeks to create fear and chaos. "What the kids are going for is shock value. If they now know that they have an outlet to get online, what's going to happen next?" Attorney Friedman asked.
Are the latest incidents signs of a disturbing trend?
"Citizens don't feel safe. Here we're trying to get Cleveland back. Yet now people are scared to go to the mall; they're scared to go to the movie theaters, so any Clevelander, any Ohioan should be concerned," Attorney Friedman told Fox 8 Cleveland. "Number one, number two, as a lawyer we see footage capturing the breaking of the law."
Valley View police continue to investigate the Cinemark incident and told reporters that they will review video footage and witness statements before determining if criminal charges will be filed.
"Not only, however, do you have to worry about the participants who went into it voluntarily," Attorney Friedman explained, "you also have to worry about the people who are there when the fight breaks out, someone who is going to be there and feel the need to protect their families."
Attorney Friedman is hoping that police can prove that the violent brawls were the result of a criminal conspiracy, which could have serious and dangerous consequences if not stopped. To prevent further disturbances, Valley View Cinemark increased security and is considering whether the rules should be changed to bar teenagers from going to the theater without adult supervision.