Teens arrested for loitering - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Teens arrested for loitering

October 17, 2007

Bainbridge-- Hanging out in a parking lot may not seem like your idea of a good time, but here in Bainbridge, the mall has been the hotspot for teens for years.  "This has always been the hangout, this town's small, don't have a whole lot to do for the kids," says Bill Josey.

He stood before the judge alongside his daughter Bethany, one of 11 teens arrested in September for what they say was an innocent gathering.  "Two people went to Taco Bell so we were waiting on them to come back so we could go back to our house," explains 17-year-old Bethany Josey.  Nineteen-year-old Crystal Weaver adds, "That's when the cops pulled up and asked us for our licenses, and to follow them to the police station. We thought we were just going to get a warning but they decided to arrest us when we got there."

Bainbridge Public Safety's chief says his department was simply enforcing the no loitering signs at the request of the mall manager.  She refused to comment, but Bill Josey says he spoke with her about the matter.  "Her take is she don't want to get involved, she just don't want the kids hanging out," says Josey.  Eighteen-year-old Phylicia Harden, also arrested, adds, "something about the mall owners don't want us there because of the trash being left behind and the trouble that people get into."

But the teens, and their parents insist, they weren't causing trouble.  "It seemed fine to me. The cops could see what we're doing and stuff and if we were doing something bad then than they could come up and arrest us for it, like drinking or something, but there's nothing," Bethany Josey says.

Wednesday morning all 11 teens entered not guilty pleas and so must return for a trial in November.  Regardless of the verdict, the group says it won't solve the problem.  "I hope the city would come up with some plan for these kids to be able to have a place to hang out and talk," says Bill Josey.

"Now I usually just park my vehicle somewhere, and just ride around with my friends," says Bethany Josey.  And parents say that's a recipe for disaster for their kids.  "They go out looking for stuff to do and that's all there is, is trouble to do. So if they find us something, we might calm down a little bit," says Weaver.  Until then the sign stands to warn teens to stay away if they want to avoid arrest.

 

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