Va. county takes 168 names in after-dark park gathering

A series of large gatherings of young people in a Virginia county for the purpose of playing Manhunt, a game akin to hide-and-seek, led last week to a confrontation in which police took 168 names, arousing community concern.

In a statement posted Tuesday , the commonwealth’s attorney in Prince George County near Richmond, said that on Aug. 5, police found that 250 to 300 people ranging in age from 16 to 25 had congregated in a county park. It was about 9:30 p.m. and they had been warned that if there after dark they would be trespassing, said the prosecutor, Jay “C” Paul.

He also said music was playing and it looked to one officer more like a party than a game.

As officers arrived, people began to flee on foot and in cars, which damaged some property. The “sheer number” of people there, at a time when other calls were backing up, led officers to stop issuing summonses, the prosecutor said.

Instead, he said, they took as many names and birth dates as they could for future action.

He said calls have flooded his office, many from parents of those involved. He said some parents “believe that nothing should happen to the 168.” But he said the youths violated a county ordinance, raising issues of safety and respect for the law.

Paul put forward a plan under which most of those involved could avoid prosecution if they fulfilled a series of conditions, including as much as 20 hours of community service.

Virginia’s Prince George County, like Maryland’s Prince George’s County is named for Prince George of Denmark, who was a member of the British royal family, and the husband of Queen Anne. He died in 1708.

 
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