Amid reports of violence, we may see more cops on 16th Street Mall

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Diners enjoy the Paramount Cafe on the 16th Street Mall. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) central business district; 16th street mall; sixteenth street; dining; food; restaurants; patio; entertainment; denver; denverite; colorado; kevinjbeaty

The last couple weeks have seen a stream of news about fights and at least one stabbing on the 16th Street Mall. Yesterday, the Denver Police Department and the Downtown Denver Partnership met to discuss a new security plan for the tourist attraction.

The two agencies have been working on a new security plan for months, and the partnership denies that it's connected to any recent incidents. No matter the cause, though, the result likely will be a "bigger and more visible police presence," KDVR reports.

Diners enjoy the Paramount Cafe on the 16th Street Mall. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
What violence been documented?

Most of the recent fights, according to the reports, have involved young people who looked like they were homeless or traveling and people with more money.

A fight last week began with an exchange of words between an office worker and someone who was panhandling for money, KDVR reported. In the ensuing fight, various men threw punches and grappled with one another, as shown in video provided to KDVR. The video didn't seem to include the beginning of the confrontation.

Another confrontation, on Saturday, began "after panhandlers began taunting families," KDVR reported, although it's again not clear exactly how it started. Both fights documented by KDVR ended in multiple arrests; we're trying to determine who was arrested.

Westword also reported earlier this week on Saturday's violence. Its story, including photos from the scene, says that the fight began with a man harassing a woman and ended with a stabbing. "I didn't know if he was dead or alive," a witness told Westword. (He survived.)

Two people were stabbed in separate incidents on the mall in April.

Please email me – [email protected] – with other recent incidents.

Is this really anything new?

That's unclear. Various outlets are carrying anecdotal reports that this represents a spike in violence, yet the number of arrests for aggressive panhandling is down nearly 8 percent this year, the Denver Post reports. That may indicate a decrease in the number of homeless and traveling people on the mall, or it may show a drop in enforcement.

As the Post notes:

It has been hard to pinpoint trends on the mall, [downtown partnership president Tami Door] said. It’s a fluid place and it changes, depending on the season, time of day and what events are happening downtown. For example, this weekend will bring the mall’s first Meet in the Street of the summer where the shuttle buses are moved off 16th Street and entertainment takes over. That will bring a different weekend daytime crowd, she said.

The Post's story includes a few additional details about security plans, and more statistics about crime on the mall.

We'll be looking further into the topic and updating this post as necessary.

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