Teens recall rampage at Florida State Fair - WFLA News Channel 8

Teens recall rampage at Florida State Fair

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Teens hurt by the 'wilding' at the Fair spoke at a Thursday meeting Teens hurt by the 'wilding' at the Fair spoke at a Thursday meeting
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

For the first time Thursday, we heard from a teenager who says she was hurt on the night a violent rampage happened at the Florida State Fair earlier this month.

"There were a lot of people jumping on me, surrounding me," Sarah Taylor, 18, said. "I got hit with a baton, an umbrella, some feet, some fists. I don't know what the rest was."

Taylor, who will graduate from high school this spring, spoke at a meeting for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Thursday night. Members of the NAACP and community wanted to hear from teens about what went wrong that night and how to prevent it from happening again.

"What it does - it gives us a better idea of what we need to do as a community - how we need to come together and listen to these kids and let them tell us what they think is right," said Carolyn Collins, President of the Hillsborough Co. branch of the NAACP. "I think far too often as adults we tell the children what to do and we don't listen."

Eyewitness accounts and cell video from that night detail trampling, thefts and fights as hundreds of teens ran wild. It was the first Friday of the fair, when students get in free.

Cousins Delonte Forward and Jalen Redding went that night with their families but left before things got out of hand. Forward, who is 15, said he heard rumblings that something was going to happen.

"They were doing it over a neighborhood - where they lived and stuff," he said. "Like the west side, east side."

Sarah Taylor's mother, Sonnita Tubbins, said she took her daughter to the emergency room after the incident on February 7 where doctors told her a portion of her nose was broken.

"I'm going to handle this the way it was supposed to be handled," Tubbins said. "I called the school board and I told them - I want to know - how do I petition to have student fair day shut down."

Most of the suggestions weren't that bold. Sheriff David Gee and about half a dozen of his deputies were on-hand Thursday to listen and take notes to what teens and parents told the crowd.

"Either an increase in security at the actual fair...or just regulation as to where it's not as easy for {young people} to come in," high school senior Wildens Cajuste suggested. "What happened at the fair this year is very childish and unfortunate, but at the same time the fair has been around forever and I wouldn't want them to stop the fair just because this one group of kids decided to do this."

Delonte Forward felt the same way.

"I think the parents should've been more attentive with their children," he said.

Earlier in the month, the leadership of the state fair announced they're putting new rules into place. Student with free fair passes must enter before 7 p.m. After then, any student coming into the fair must be with an adult age 18 or older.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.


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