Orland Square mall
Orland Square mall (Brett Johnson / Daily Southtown)

A video that captured a fight among a group of youths Saturday at Orland Square mall in Orland Park was pulled from social media after “unbelievably horrible, racist remarks were made” about the juveniles involved, said Rashad “Rush” Darwish, who had posted the footage.

Darwish said he had posted the video to Facebook Saturday night and within a few hours it had hit in the neighborhood of 100,000 views.

He said he posted the video as more “of a heads-up to anyone who might be headed to the mall” looking for post-Christmas bargains.

“What ensued was something I never thought in a million years would happen,” Darwish said.

He said he deleted the video early Sunday morning, after initially trying to respond to some of the comments that had been posted.

Orland Park police Chief Joe Mitchell said that police officers assisted Orland Square security in breaking up the fight. The department has uniformed officers at the mall during the holiday shopping season.

“It was resolved in a couple of minutes,” Mitchell said. “It was a minor push-and-shove thing.”

Eight juveniles were cited but the chief declined to say what outlines the charges.

Some commenters on social media said they did not feel safe shopping at the mall and one poster suggested that non-Orland Park residents be charged a fee to enter.

“Make the mall an outdoor mall to stop the low lives coming inside,” another commenter wrote.

The mall, 151st Street and LaGrange Road, “is one of the safest malls in the Chicago area,” Mitchell said.

“The stats don’t lie,” he said.

While the site of retail theft and thefts from vehicles, the mall and village overall have a low incidence of violent crimes, he said.

In the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ summarization last year of 2018 crime statistics, the number of index crimes in Orland Park, including violent crimes as well as offenses such as burglary and motor vehicle theft, were at the lowest level since 1994. Police said at the time that 98% of crimes reported to the FBI involved offenses such as retail theft or theft from vehicles.

Mitchell said that Orland Square, like other malls around the country, is not immune to disturbances similar to what happened Saturday. The department has worked with mall management to be more proactive in responding to crimes such as retail theft by having uniformed officers inside the mall during the busy Christmas season, he said.[Most read] Chicago Cubs finalizing a trade of Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini to the San Diego Padres in return for 5 players »

“There are things that occur that I can’t stop, I can just respond to them,” he said.

Mall management did not respond to a request for comment about the disturbance.

Darwish said his family has owned the Athlete’s Foot shoe store in the mall for 23 years and locations of the chain at other Chicago area malls. An employee at the Orland Park location shot the video, which occurred in a common area outside the store, he said.

An Arab-American, Darwish challenged U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary in March in the 3rd Congressional District.

“My platform was about equality,” he said.

Darwish said he believed there were about 15 juveniles involved and that the fight broke out sometime between 5 and 6 p.m. Mitchell said he did not know the exact number but believed it was fewer than 15.

Darwish said the video was shared about 2,000 times within a period of a couple of hours after being posted, and comments “quickly spiraled into some seriously hateful language.”

“I was ashamed by what transpired,” Darwish said. “If a group of white kids were fighting in the mall, the story would be ‘Oh, look at these kids with no supervision.’ But when it’s Black kids who are fighting it opens up this unbelievable rhetoric that is based on racism.”


Original article: www.chicagotribune.com


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