ELYRIA — City Council will not have to create a new law to deal with flash mobs at public events as Law Director Terry “Pete” Shilling said the city already has an ordinance on the books that would apply.
The idea of such a law was posed at a recent Community Development Committee meeting, but ultimately shelved for lack of information. Monday night Shilling said the issue of creating new legislation came about amid concerns that hordes of kids could disrupt this year’s Apple Festival, which takes place this weekend in downtown Elyria.
Flash mobs are typically known as spontaneous gatherings of people who are called to a place or event by messages found on social networking sites. In other cities in the region, flash mobs have disrupted festivals and public events leading to law enforcement agencies to be on high alert for a possible recurrence in their communities.
In Elyria, should a flash mob bring chaos to the Apple Festival, Shilling said officers can cite offenders with criminal trespassing.
The ordinance states that “no person shall knowingly enter or remain on any restricted portion of a place of public amusement and, as a result of that conduct, interrupt or cause the delay of the live performance, sporting event, or other activity taking place at the place of public amusement.” A violation is a misdemeanor offense.
Shilling said a written notice alerting visitors to the restriction is required to be posted at the Apple Festival before officers can arrest on that particular law, but he anticipates the notices will be posted in time for the festival.
Police Chief Duane Whitely said police presence will be heavy at the festival, which is the case every years. He said additional officers are assigned to work in and around the festival area.
Confident that the current law would be sufficient, Council’s Community Development Committee removed the matter of prohibiting flash mobs from its agenda.
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.