Chez-Vous not to blame for melee after police-sponsored event there, board rules

The Boston Licensing Board ruled last week that Chez-Vous, 11 Rhoades St. in Mattapan, was not to blame for a November incident in which the intersection of Blue Hill Avenue and Morton Street got blocked by up to 250 kids, four of whom were arrested for refusing police orders to disperse.

On Nov. 8, the rink - right behind the B-3 police station - opened its doors for a police-sponsored teen event that started with police officers rapping with teens about relations between the two and concluded with some free roller skating.

Everything was fine and people had a great time - until the teens started leaving around 8:45 p.m.: A couple of girls, one of whom had not even been at the event, got into it at Blue Hill Avenue and Morton Street and a crowd gathered around them and people began brawling and soon police dispatchers were having to call in officers from all over to deal with an unruly mob of 200 to 250 kids fighting and yelling and blocking traffic and mouthing off to cops and just refusing to leave, according to testimony at a Boston Licensing Board hearing.

Four teens wound up arrested on charges of being delinquent for disorderly conduct when, police say, they responded to police requests to move with various exclamations - including "f--- the police!" - or simple laughter.

And this, a Chez-Vous manager told the licensing board, is why the roller rink had stopped running teen-specific events in 2016 - after a similar melee in which one teen got bleach thrown in her face.

Since the 2016 incident, Chez-Vous has tried to limit itself to all-ages, family-type events, manager Derek Thompson told the board. He said the rink knows that teens "won't listen to us" outside, especially once they get across Blue Hill Avenue.

But B-3 asked if the rink could open up one night for an event designed to ease tensions between police and local teens, and Chez-Vous agreed to donate the space between 6 and 9 p.m. that night, he said. The idea was to have cops and kids talk for half the time, and then the kids could skate the rest of the time for free.

"Inside, there were no problems," he said. "It was peaceful, successful." And, at first, he said, the end was peaceful, too, as small groups of kids began to leave, under the eye of at least 10 Chez-Vous guards.

He said he was standing outside when he saw a "very, very riled up young lady" coming down Blue Hill Avenue. He said he managed to get her to stop heading towards Chez-Vous, but that she soon returned and began arguing with another teen who had been inside the rink.

Calls must've gone out over social media and soon the area was flooded with teens, who began taking out their phones for pictures, which just led to more things happening, he said.

Lt. Det. Stephen Meade said two or three officers quickly headed out of the B-3 station when they got a report of a fight on Rhoades Street, which runs between the station parking lot and the roller rink. Outside, they quickly found themselves in the middle of a scrum of up to 250 kids - many right in the middle of the intersection of Blue Hill Avenue and Morton Street, which is normally one of the busiest in the area, but which had ground to a complete halt because of all the teens,, he said.

He said officers radioed for help, and more officers quickly responded, but that orders to disperse over cruiser PA systems had little effect. He said all of the arrested teens refused repeated demands by officers to move. One, he said, just kept pacing back and forth and called the officer telling him to leave "bitch!" - at least until the officer got out his cuffs and arrested him.

Following the hearing, the board held a separate meeting and decided that Chez-Vous was not at fault for the incident.

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