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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 to prevent large gatherings of youth, what people are calling "flash mobs," like the one that 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 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.

bruce biddle July 08, 2011 at 08:00 PM
Thanks SE Police for keeping up with the times. The need for curfews ia such a shame
Whysyn July 08, 2011 at 11:55 PM
Isn't a park supposed to be a place for youth to congregate? This is such a draconian overreach for the local PD. There are some youth that want to have a water fight at the park, so be it. If it happens to be a couple hundred people, so be it. This is a free country, and that is a public park. Aren't there better things for the police to be doing? For the record, I live three blocks from the park, I'm not a youth, and I didn't intend to go to the park tomorrow, but fully support people playing in a public park.
Megan Rozsa July 09, 2011 at 01:38 PM
Some of the comments were deleted from this post because they violate our terms of service. Please be courteous when posting. Thank you. Megan Rozsa Associate Local Editor
Steve Rosen July 09, 2011 at 01:38 PM
Let kids be kids. Water balloon fights are part of summer fun. This seems like overreach on the part of the South Euclid police. What's next, outlawing picnics?
Sec517 July 09, 2011 at 05:24 PM
Steve - The gathering itself may be innocent, but you don't think its going to be hijacked? When the thugs with guns and knives show up, the water balloon kids (and the neighborhood at large) will be at a disadvantage. Besides, what standing does the kid have to congregate at a south euclid park? He is from cleveland. let him gather there. Good job SEPD. Sic the dogs on anyone who shows up.
susanna leslie July 10, 2011 at 12:32 AM
Overreach??? Are you kidding me? Have you experienced this in your neighborhood Steve? I think your "let kids be kids" and these "kids be kids" is a whole lot different. I was at the Coventry Fair when all chaos broke loose. It was frightening and the kids were disrespectful of authority, and frankly, out of control. I give alot of credit to the police department in even having to deal with this type of behavior.
mceraolo July 10, 2011 at 09:21 PM
you have to be resident of the school district to have a pool pass; how were these people planning to get around that?
Kimberly July 12, 2011 at 01:27 PM
I remember all the fun I had as a teenager going to gatherings and parties. It's a shame that our youth can't experience the same. It is amazing to see how times have changed. It is very sad to see the state that our youth is in today. The disrespect is disturbing.

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