Incident Reports

Flash Mobs Take Violent Turn in Philadelphia

Flash Mob

Flash mobs turn violent.

It started innocently enough seven years ago as an act of performance art where people linked through social-networking Web sites and text messaging suddenly gathered on the streets for impromptu pillow fights in New York, group disco routines in London, and even a huge snowball fight in Washington.

Seth Kaufman was injured in the flash mob Saturday, which he called “a tsunami of kids.”

But these so-called flash mobs have taken a more aggressive and raucous turn here as hundreds of teenagers have been converging downtown for a ritual that is part bullying, part running of the bulls: sprinting down the block, the teenagers sometimes pause to brawl with one another, assault pedestrians or vandalize property

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After online rumors stoked fears yesterday of yet another potential flash mob – this time at 40th and Market Streets – police told businesses there to close, parked cruisers in the middle of street, and stationed officers at each corner.

No large, destructive group of teenagers materialized. Still, the mobilization showed the city’s heightened sensitivity to the phenomenon of flash mobs, which have struck Center City and South Street four times since December, fueling worries that the gatherings are harming businesses and the city’s image.

Hours earlier, Mayor Nutter, flanked by about 40 uniformed officers and joined by the police commissioner and district attorney, had held a news conference in Headhouse Square to announce, again, that the city would not tolerate misbehavior.

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  • I was nearly caught in the last mob. I was rescued by a passing taxi. The driver was from Africa and he asked me why I thought the kids in this country were so violent…I couldn’t answer.

    My suggestion. Don’t jail them. Instead take away the instruments of the crime…confiscate cell phones and computers. The law in some places has been upheld that it is legal to confiscate cars and houses used in drug trade. So take the tools of this crime as well.

    That would get the attention of these kids. It would hit them where it hurts. Chastising them doesn’t work, since they they don’t care what other people think of them. Some of them are sociopaths in the making.

    And in the long term we have to stop pretending that this issue is not racial.Political correctness is part of the problem. These are all black kids. It is a problem. The roots of this issue are that these kids are defacto segregated from the rest of society. They don’t feel included in society and they have no high hopes of success in the future…so they look for ways to use group identification to make up for the respect that they don’t get from general, so called “respectable” society.

    They have nothing to lose…so why not have fun and cause havoc?

    We need to make sure that the next generations don’t feel so outcast from the promise of success in our society so that they don’t turn out like these kids. It’s too late for the mob kids…lets save the next bunch coming up.

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