Officials from the city, Metroplex and Bow Tie Cinema did a super job keeping under raps the disturbing news about an assault that took place June 28 at the downtown Schenectady movie house, where an adult patron from the suburbs at the 10 o’clock showing of “White House Down” had the temerity to tell a group of unruly teens to quiet down, then was badly beaten by them as the show let out.
But the story finally emerged last week when the perpetrators were indicted, as they deserved to be, on a variety of charges, and officials had to resort to some serious damage control.
Yes, it’s the first incident of this sort since the movie theater opened seven years ago. ... No, there’s never been one at next-door Proctors, which entertains 650,000 patrons annually. ... And, yes, the cops were on the scene before the theater personnel who called them even got off the phone. ... Maybe the whole thing wouldn’t have happened if the guy had only let theater personnel handle the problem, rather than snapping his fingers at the teens in an effort to silence them.
It all may well be so, and we have no reason to believe otherwise; but such attempts to downplay what happened are likely to do little to convince suburban naysayers — who have expressed such fears about downtown Schenectady for years and who are undoubtedly the reason officials were hush-hush about this incident — that it’s just as safe as a suburban movie theater or shopping mall.
Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t; but people are likely to have doubts as a result of what happened — not just the beating (which left the victim with a concussion and broken hand) but the fact that officials avoided addressing it as they should have. Now they’re going to have to work overtime to assure the public that not only was this an isolated incident, but that steps are being taken to ensure against repeat performances.
Of course, there are no guarantees — not in downtown Schenectady, suburban malls or anywhere in the United States, for that matter. But trying to act as if the whole thing didn’t happen doesn’t work, either.