Douglas County

‘Tell your kids no:’ Ga. police chief warns parents not to allow repeat of 2022 mall brawl

DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. — After a movie day event at the Arbor Place Mall in Douglasville went awry last year, the city’s police chief is warning parents to be on guard and tell their children “no” before the next one.

An all-day $4 movie day will be held by Regal Cinemas on Sunday. Last year’s $3 movie day turned into a day of “several fights and much chaos,” where police and sheriff’s deputies had to intervene.

Police Chief Dr. Gary Sparks put out a release to the community Friday morning urging parents to stay at the mall and keep their kids in line, instead of just dropping them off.

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The day’s events on Sept. 3, 2022 ended with 19 children arrested, and one adult, after hundreds started fighting at the mall.

Police warned parents then that they were “not there to raise your children.” The letter from Sparks Friday echoed a similar sentiment, though more aimed at how to parent than not having law enforcement do it instead.

Sparks noted in his release that he himself was a father.

“Don’t let the mall’s movies raise your child,” Sparks said in the release. The document noted that his words were aimed at “the parents who pull up to the mall, let their kids out, and leave. ‘When they get out of your presence, they might do things that will come back and embarrass you.’”

Those arrested in 2022 faced a mix of charges, including disorderly conduct, affray, and simple battery, while nine were also charged with violating the Georgia Street Gang and Terrorism Prevention Act.

“We, as the Douglasville Police Department, have talked with mall security, as well as Regal Cinemas personnel and mall management about Sunday’s event,” Sparks said. “Now, we are talking to the parents.”


According to Sparks, the chaos at the mall in 2022 was due to someone allegedly trying to film fake fights for a video on TikTok, but the fights then transformed into actual fights.

During the ordeal, “mall patrons flooded the 911 center with numerous calls of fighting in and outside of the mall,” prompting the heavy law enforcement response.

Sparks said “a tumultuous crowd of as many as 200 people, mostly juveniles running around and screaming while others were fighting " was the scene of mayhem that greeted officers upon arrival, and the mall ended up closing early.

He said parents should be parents, not their kid’s friend.

“Parents don’t seem to understand the times we are living in. We must understand that the biggest and most powerful word in our vocabulary is NO,” Sparks said. “Learn to tell your kids no.”

The police chief noted that law enforcement would be “fully present” at the mall Sunday to ensure the day doesn’t get out of hand.

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