The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, June 03, 2020 1:00 am

Protest rumor shutters mall

Jefferson Pointe closes; rally stays downtown


Rumors of protesters converging Tuesday afternoon on Jefferson Pointe prompted police to temporarily block entrances to the outdoor mall, including those shared by neighboring Apple Glen Crossing.

Protesters instead gathered for a fifth consecutive day at the Allen County Courthouse.

They lined Clinton Street between Main and Berry streets with cases of bottled water and pizza boxes at their feet as they held handwritten signs toward the passing downtown traffic.

Like other protesters nationwide, they rallied against police violence and last week's death of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.

Members of the TenPoint Coalition also stood at the corner of Clinton and Berry streets early evening.

Meanwhile, parking lots at Jefferson Pointe and Apple Glen were largely empty hours after police reopened entrances.

Jefferson Pointe's management closed the property in response to social media posts calling for a protest there at 2:30 p.m., Fort Wayne Police Department spokeswoman Sofia Rosales-Scatena said.

Mall management released the following statement: “We are heartbroken by the death of George Floyd, and the pain that his death and racial injustices cause in our communities everywhere. We, at Jefferson Pointe, were made aware of a possible gathering taking place at or around our property this afternoon. Because we are private property, we are proactively working with the city of Fort Wayne and the FWPD to ensure safety for our community.”

Police received numerous messages, mostly from Facebook, about the planned gathering, Rosales-Scatena said. They decided to take the threat seriously because of other protests nationwide that resulted in property damage, she said.

More than 50 downtown windows were smashed in Fort Wayne about 10 p.m. Friday, hours after a peaceful protest began.

Some large windows in Jefferson Pointe were boarded up following a memo sent by mall management warning tenants of the rumored demonstration.

Roads to the shopping center were reopened at 4 p.m., Rosales-Scatena said.

Although the Chick-fil-A drive-thru had a line about 7:15 p.m., it appeared most stores and restaurants in Jefferson Pointe and Apple Glen had closed for the day based on the empty parking lots. There was no question Walmart was closed; the retailer's doors were blocked with stacks of pallets.

A few Fort Wayne police vehicles kept watch over Jefferson Pointe as a Garrett police vehicle was stationed at the Apple Glen Walmart.

The downtown protest was peaceful as of early evening.

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