TOWSON,Md. (WJZ) — Turned away at the door. That’s the new reality for children 17 years and younger who try to go into the Towson Town Center after 5 p.m. on weekends without an adult. Friday was day one of the mall’s new curfew rule.
Checkpoints are now in place at Towson Town Center. If you’re under 18, you will need an adult over 21 with you. Otherwise, expect to turned away every Friday and Saturday after 5 p.m.
Teen Nigel Campbell told WJZ he was there to pick up an order, when he got an unpleasant surprise.
“I came all the way out here and not to be able to go in is kind of like a letdown,” said Campbell.
Mall personnel made the change after shoppers said groups of kids made for an intimidating shopping experience.
“It just felt like there were a lot of groups that were walking through the mall so it just wasn’t an environment they felt like was relaxing and conducive to shopping,” said Lisa Bisenius, senior general manager of Towson Town Center.
From the adults to the kids, there’s no shortage of opinions.
“I don’t think you should penalize all of the children for a few bad eggs,” said Katie Downing Powell, shopper.
“These were like my Friday night plans all the time, just coming here. But now I have to bring a parent, and it’s kind of irritating,” said Sydney Southerland, shopper.
The mall did some research, and the majority of stores approve the change.
“I’m excited for it. We get a lot of families that shop with us on a regular basis, and on Friday and Saturday nights at 4 o’clock, you hear them say, ‘It’s time to go,'” said Patty Soukup, Marbles: the Brain Store.
Mall officials met with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, but refused to disclose what was discussed.
The NAACP has voiced concerns the rule could discriminate based on age, but the mall says that’s not the case.
“We’re just asking them to bring a parent or guardian, so we are not saying you can’t come,” said Bisenius.
Repeat offenders could be arrested for trespassing, but the general manager stressed that’s not the goal.
There are some other malls in the area with restrictions on teens, like The Avenue at White Marsh and Hunt Valley Town Centre.
The general manager says the new rule is permanent.