Best bizarro news story: Darien Long Kickass Mall Cop
It started with YouTube clips of overzealous onsite manager and security guard Darien Long urging unruly people to move along at Downtown's Metro Mall, a building full of vendors hawking jeans, purses, and gold teeth. When his requests went unheeded, he turned to ... a taser. The videos, shot with a camera mounted on the guard's chest, soon went viral, appearing on Reddit, World Star Hip Hop, and elsewhere, and thus was born Darien Long, Kickass Mall Cop. The jarring recordings of young men and women paralyzed by the electric shocks earned Long criticism for a seemingly vigilante approach to crime-fighting. Downtowners debated whether his tough-on-loiterers stance was good or bad for the area's image. But he also had his fans. Online admirers started a donation fund to purchase Long new equipment, ultimately raising more than $23,500. Fueled by the subtexts of class, race, and criminality, the controversy underscored the decades-long lack of economic development that has made South Downtown ripe for gentrification. And Long, with his aggressive tactics and subversive videos, seemed like the perfect pawn for such an endgame. In late March, however, Long said he was being let go from his gig. Shortly after breaking the news to the public, he was arrested and charged with battery for tackling a mall patron whom he'd allegedly told not to return to the shopping complex. "When you're a whistleblower, you're a hero to some and the scum of the earth to others," he said the day before his arrest.