CLINTON — In response to Facebook threats of looting and rioting, Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets will be closed Saturday and Sunday, according to an official of the retail outlet center.
Entrances and exits at Clinton Crossing, a member of the Simon Property Group, will be blocked with Jersey barriers. Some stores, including Polo Ralph Lauren and Finish Line, were boarded up starting Friday morning.
“Based on the credibility of threats and law enforcement recommendations, the decision has been made to temporarily close,” Nathan Ramos, area general manager, wrote in a letter to mall businesses. “... Our goal is to provide a safe environment for tenants, customers and employees.”
Clinton Crossing, off Exit 63, is home to about 70 outlet stores, including the upscale Coach, Dooney & Bourke, Kate Spade New York and Michael Kors, as well as Sunglass Hut and Yankee Candle.
The following message was posted to premiumoutlets.com.
“We are deeply saddened and troubled by the murder of Mr. Floyd and mourn his senseless loss,” it reads. “We stand united for racial equality and pray for the healing of our communities.”
Meanwhile, Westbrook Outlets will be open for business this weekend.
“We have no plans to close this weekend,” a mall office staff member, who did not want to be identified, said.
Clinton police are being especially cautious in light of incidents across the country sparked by the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police.
There also have been some incidents around the country of riots and looting, leading management and shop owners to take preventive actions, said Clinton Police Chief Vincent DeMaio.
“We’ve been following it since Tuesday, we’ve been monitoring it all along,” said DeMaio.
While DeMaio said police attempted to learn who was behind the social media threats, they were unable to determine any specific individual or group.
“With the tenor of the nation right now, where everybody is just so emotionally charged up, I think discretion is the better part of valor on that decision that they made,” he said. “... They probably wouldn’t have taken it as seriously if the situation hadn’t been what it’s been for the past 10 days.”
While it was the decision of the mall to close for the weekend, DeMaio said he and his department have been working very closely with them to ensure safety. Other local area police departments, in addition to Connecticut State Police, will assist, if necessary.
“We are aware of it and we will respond to it, if needed,” said state Trooper Chris Reid of Troop F in Westbrook. As far as a providing a state police presence at the mall, Reid said, “Only if things get to that level.”
DeMaio said closing the shopping mall is helpful. “Obviously for us it’s another issue we’re not going to have to address,” he said. “If you do have that large shopping center open, it drains our resources further, so we’re good with it.
“It’s a private property and now it’s closed, so no one’s allowed on the property,” he added.
The Police Department will increase patrols around the area for the weekend. The entire mall is enclosed by a fence and police will be working to ensure that no one makes entry onto the private property.
“Our job is to make sure everybody in the town is safe and we’re just going to make sure that we keep that property safe,” DeMaio stressed.