More and more political groups and hordes of bicycle riders are flexing their muscles and getting attention by invading shopping malls and staging noisy and disruptive takeovers.
Political factions, mostly composed of young people seeking excitement and promoting causes they are hardly old enough to understand, have carried out this tactic in several cities and even other countries hoping to get the public’s attention by making it impossible to shop thanks to dozens of people with loudspeakers, political chants and banners filling common spaces with noise and confusion.
Bicycle groups are doing the same thing in city streets, and most recently at the Valley Plaza Mall. Shop owners are already angered by flash mobs that smash and grab thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, frightening shoppers away and causing many national franchises to shutter their doors for good.
However the police say the malls may be the new ‘town squares’ and people have a right to speak their minds in them, as long as they are not causing problems with illegal acts.
Additionally, Sgt Andrew Tipton of the Bakersfield Police Department said, unless the bicyclists cause something greater than a nuisance, drivers and pedestrians should try to avoid them and let them pass. But if they begin stealing, damaging property or threatening physical harm you should call 9-1-1.
Tipton also cautioned the bicycle riders to follow the law and that means wearing helmets if they are under 18, ride in the bicycle lanes the same direction as the traffic and have proper lighting if they are riding at night. He also said parents should exercise control over their minor children, know where they are and what they are doing, That, he said, could go a long way in corralling the youth before police involvement becomes necessary.