It was not a normal day at Chicago Ridge Mall on Saturday but there was no melee either.
Police from Chicago Ridge and several surrounding communities joined mall security to create a significant law enforcement presence in response to social media posts that called for a flash mob at the mall.
“They had a great presence,” Mayor Chuck Tokar said.
The increased security came one week after a serious fight broke out in the mall’s food court and rumors quickly spread that shots had been fired.
Indeed, there was no gunfire and police said the brawl was not the result of a flash mob. Police from several jurisdictions descended on the shopping center and the mall was closed a few hours early.
The incident was serious enough that mall officials want to implement a youth escort policy.
The policy would be similar to one North Riverside Mall adopted in 2013.
Under that policy, after 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, anyone under 17 years old is required to be accompanied by a parent or supervising adult, age 21 or over.
Chicago Ridge Mall officials have not yet ironed out the details of their proposed policy, but the goal is to eliminate unsupervised teens from wandering the shopping center, Chicago Ridge Police Chief Robert Pyznarski said.
Police on Saturday were stationed at all mall entrances as well as the parking lot, keeping an eye out for anyone who planned to respond to a social media post that called for stores to be robbed.
Tokar said a high-level of security would continue in the coming weeks.
“I don’t think you can do it last Saturday and forget it,” the mayor said.
While law enforcement made its presence felt at the mall, those who support police took a stand on Friday, tying blue ribbons to every light pole from Harlem Avenue to Pulaski Road on 95th Street.
Residents in Chicago Ridge and Worth also took part in the initiative last week.
“It was very important to me,” said Oak Lawn resident Jennifer Childs, who headed up the initiative.
Childs said only a handful of supporters responded when she first pitched the idea to some local Facebook groups. But more than 40 people turned out on Friday to help the cause.
“I was amazed,” Childs said. “It was a warm feeling. People brought their kids out. Couples came out.”
Each volunteer was given 16 ribbons, which were made from blue, plastics table clothes, and assigned a one block to place them on street poles. The four-mile stretch was completed within an hour, Childs said.
Childs said she promoted the “Tie One On” effort to support Oak Lawn police and let people know that residents support law enforcement.
“It’s important to me,” she said, adding that the incident at the mall demonstrated the lack of respect many people have for police.
“It’s just wrong,” she said. “We need to have someone to have our backs when something is wrong. We know the police department has our backs.”
Childs also dismissed criticism from some that politicians such as Mayor Sandra Bury and Trustees Tim Desmond and Terry Vorderer politicized the effort by getting involved.
“I couldn’t have done it without them,” she said, adding that Bury donated 50 table clothes to the cause.