NEW ORLEANS - Vendors at the Riverwalk are questioning security after they say a mob of teenagers, many of them on skateboards, came through the mall several times Thursday, causing damage as they went along.
“The security guards, they did what they could,” said Patrick Vitello, a vendor at the Riverwalk. “They didn’t have enough people here.”
“I was waiting for the police,” said Edwige Ndzana, another vendor. “I was so scared until we closed at 7 p.m. The police didn’t come. Nothing happened.”
Ndzana said she called 911 twice when the mob came through the mall, many of them passing through multiple times.
“My boss told me before I close the door to call the police.”
Bassam Salem, another vendor, said he closed an hour before the mall – at 6 p.m., because he was concerned.
Vendors talked to by WWL-TV said the kids had been around the mall all day, perhaps connected to National ‘Go Skateboarding Day.’
“I want to say around 150 to 200 kids outside of Spanish Plaza and it didn’t seem like there was any kind of law enforcement, any kind of security,” said Salem.
The Harbor Police normally cover the area, since they have overlapping jurisdiction with the NOPD.
HPD said it arrived on the scene within three minutes of the first call and ten minutes of the second call. In both cases, they said, the crowd dispersed.
“Harbor Police were supposed to show up,” said Vitello. “I never saw them until 6:30, once the second event had happened and everything was already destroyed.”
Riverwalk officials released a statement that said: “While we are still assessing the situation, our security force responded quickly and well, contained the youths involved, coordinated with Harbor Police, and appropriately, the youths were escorted off the premises.”
Vendors say they’re concerned it could be worse next time.
“I think it’s more of a lack of not only security presence, but police presence around the Riverside and this side of downtown,” said Salem.
Harbor Police said they requested and received help from the NOPD. In the future, they say they plan to step up patrols when staffing is available. The Riverwalk said there were no injuries, minimal damage and one theft reported.