LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - For suburban families, downtown's Waterfront Park is but one gathering place. But for some west Louisville teenagers, it may be the only place.
"They shut down the movies," a party organizer who bills himself Young Commercial. "You can't go after 6 without a parent. But you go to Waterfront. Basically they go down there to have a good time."
"To the young kids; y'all know what you did was wrong," Metro Mayor Greg Fischer said Monday. "You weren't raised this way; it is not the way we roll in the city."
Community organizers won't call Saturday's mob violence a case of wilding waiting to happen. But they caution that it could foreshadow a difficult spring and summer.
"If we don't get it now-try to do things, better steps to stop it from happening, somebody else is gonna get really hurt," Young Commercial said.
"The answer to the wilding is not a beefed-up police force," said the Rev. Dr. Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Baptist Church, "but beefed up investment in West Louisville."
The new Walmart Supercenter could be a step toward that end, bringing jobs when it opens at 18th & Broadway.
"We believe they (teenagers involved in violence) come from good families but made bad choices, said the Rev. Vincent James, pastor of Elim Baptist Church. "So we have an opportunity to be able to correct that."
Downtown promoters maintain that Saturday's troubles are merely a stumble.
"You can ask the question as many ways as you like," said David Karem, President and executive director of the Waterfront Development Corporation. "But Louisville has a safe downtown-with a fine Metro Police Department. It's growing and it's going to continue to grow."
Louisville Downtown Partnership's interim director, Rebecca Matheny, praised the promise of more police patrols, whether via horseback, bicycle or on foot. But she lays a greater responsibility upon parents.
"It's incumbent on them," Matheny said. "If you didn't know where your kids were Saturday night, ask them. Find out where they were, and take a more active role.
"That's why I was stressing the parents," a party organizer identified as DJ Fatman. "It comes back to knowing where your kids are, at all times."
And creating more options than simply more places to gather and wander.
"If you stop ‘em from the waterfront, they go somewhere else," said Young Commercial.
Editor's Note: It is the policy of WAVE 3 News not to include physical descriptions of the subjects of stories unless that information is complete enough for viewers to identify an individual with some degree of certainty. Race, age and gender alone do not meet that standard. However, if the description also includes specific distinguishing characteristics such as clothing, a distinctive tattoo, a specific vehicle, etc., we may include it in our reporting.
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