UPDATED: Bexley Park Water Fight Moved to Cleveland
South Euclid announced this morning that Bexley Park will be closed Saturday following tweets scheduling a flash mob water fight
A teenager who organized a water fight for Bexley Park in South Euclid has changed the location of the event after learning the park would be closed.
Malik Wallington, 15, of Cleveland, said the fight would be held at Neff Pool, near 193rd Street and Bella Avenue in Cleveland.
Wallington, who lives near Green Road in Cleveland, said he learned of the Bexley Park closing from a posting on his Facebook page.
South Euclid police told residents the park would be closed after 1 p.m. on Saturday so police could conduct canine training with other departments, according to a prerecorded phone call made to residents Friday morning.
Keith Benjamin, South Euclid Community Services director, said he didn't know whether the training had been scheduled previously or was a response to the gathering, but the call does state that police hope to deter the gathering.
Wallington expects between 30 to 50 people to come to the water fight. He and his friends use the name "A Tribe Called Fresh" to organize free events that are meant to be fun, not violent. The events are publicized through social media sites such as Schmap.it and Twitter.
Police on the East side are teaming up to prevent large gatherings of youth, what people are calling "flash mobs," like the one that followed the Coventry Street Arts Fair June 26 because they can get out of control. Some estimated that thousands of kids filled streets and some refused to leave after the summer fair. Fights broke out and 16 were arrested. Cleveland Heights City Council implemented a 6 p.m. curfew for minors just days after that incident.
Wallington was there, and didn't like what he saw. He said he arrived about 2 p.m. and was hanging out in Coventry P.E.A.C.E Park with his friends.
"Next thing we know, we see all these people running to the park," he said. "From then on it was fights, and that's what we didn't want."
He wants the water gun and balloon battle, which he never referred to as a flash mob, to be a fun, innocent event.
News of the water fight had been retweeted about 300 times by Friday morning. South Euclid Police Chief Kevin Nietert said in a statement that "if there is a gathering of youth at Bexley Park on Saturday, the police are prepared to handle it."
Benjamin stressed that the call from South Euclid to inform residents that the park would close did not use the term "flash mob," a colloquial phrase that describes large, seemingly spontaneous gatherings of people.
Here's what residents heard if they answered the telephone:
Bexley Park will be closed on Saturday, July 9 after 1 p.m. The police department will be conducting canine training.
In addition to this, there will be a large police presence, including other police agencies. Please don't be concerned.
The police department has received information that there are plans for a large gathering of youth at the park which we hope to deter.
We thank you for your patience and cooperation, as we work to protect and keep your neighborhood safe and a peaceful place to call home.