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Will Flash Mobs Return this Summer?

In recent years, our fair city has had to battle tremendous crime issues, but few have been as scary as the teen flash mobs.  If you’ve lived in the city for more than five years, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.  For the benefit of people who don’t know, the flash mobs largely consisted of groups of black teens who planned used social media, texts, and other forms of communication to just show up in certain areas of town “and do whatever”!  Unfortunately, “whatever” usually included stealing, theft, and mayhem.  Yes, groups of people got together to go crazy.

There have been at least nine flash mobs in the City of Philadelphia.  Primarily, the flash mobs have shown up in the Center City and University City sections.

I would love to ask the participants how they chose their targets and what made this “form of expression” seem fun or worthwhile.  For example, in part, the drug game makes sense to me.  It is about money; but what is a flash mob about?  Because a flash mob is completely out of control, the participants don’t have a real chance of getting anything of value from looting.  Is it simply about making other people feel terrified? Is it about bullying?

Last year, there was only one flash mob (to my knowledge).  A group of about 200 teens showed up at the Wendy’s on 15th & Chestnut and starting a fight that grew into a brawl.  So far, in 2014, there’s been one random attack, which was called a “flash mob attack” by one online source:  a group of black girls, 14 – 17, attacked Temple University students.  One Temple student was hit in the face with a brick and required emergency surgery!  Was this random attack a flash mob or something different?  Do you think this kind of  crazy will be an issue this summer?

Here is what I don’t understand or like:  most of the teenagers who have taken part in them are black and most of the areas hit have been predominantly white business districts.  It gets worse:  “flash mobs” have shown up in Cleveland, Chicago, D.C., and in other places.

Why are the young people in our community doing this?  What do you think?


Some of Philadelphia’s Flash Mob situations:
March:  Do you think the flash mobs are going to return this summer?  Earlier this year, mid-March, a group of girls between 14 – 17 (at least five) attacked several Temple University students, hitting them with bricks.  The violent attacks, three separate attacks on the same day, appeared to be random.  One of the Temple students who was attacked was hit in the face, had her teeth fractured and required surgery.

April 10:  14 teens were arrested — 11 boys and three girls.  Police were called to the scene of a gathering involving up to 200 teens on the 1600 block of Chestnut Street shortly before 4 p.m.  Two girls in the crowd began to fight and it soon escalated into a full-scale brawl, according to police.

January 31:    Police arrested two 17-year-olds and a 15-year-old.  Goldman says his cab was stopped at a light when he and the driver were targeted by a group of teens waiting at a nearby bus stop.  The University of Pennsylvania senior claims when he and the driver got out of the cab, the situation turned even uglier.  “After the second punch, I turned around, the cab driver was opening his trunk to take out a tire iron, and then I remember someone coming up from behind him and hitting him very hard in the back of the head.”

June 28:  about 100 or more teenagers who left a concert night committed a series of violent crimes. One of the crimes took place when a group of teens ran by a Max Brenner restaurant and snatched valuables from the patrons.  When one of the patrons ran after the thief, she was punched in the jaw and called obscene names.

June 25:  a teenage flash mob brutally assaulted pedestrians.

June 23:  a group of teenagers boarded a train, got off at a stop near a Sears store, entered the Sears store, and stole sneakers, socks, and watches.  The mob committed their robbery in less than four minutes. Three or four teenagers stayed outside the Sears store to act as lookouts.

July 4:  A chaotic scene erupted on South Broad Street, near City Hall. Viewer video shows an unruly crowd of young people flooded into the streets. Police rushed to the scene.  Police insist this latest incident was not a flash mob. According to the definition police associate with a flash mob, it is a pre-organized event spread by young people using social networking sites, agreeing to meet some place and cause trouble. Whereas Sunday night’s mob seemed to be “a spontaneous eruption of unruly behavior” from people who were leaving the July 4th festivities. Police say, so far there no indications that last night’s events were preplanned in any way.

March 6:  “It was like a tsunami of kids,” said Seth Kaufman, 20, a pizza deliveryman at Olympia II Pizza & Restaurant on South Street. He lifted his shirt to show gashes along his back and arm. He also had bruises on his forehead he said were from kicks and punches he suffered while trying to keep a rowdy crowd from entering the shop, where a fight was already under way.  By the time you could hear them yelling, they were flooding the streets and the stores and the sidewalks,” Mr. Kaufman said.

February 16:  50 teenagers spilled out of the Gallery shopping mall east of City Hall during rush hour and rampaged through Macy’s, knocking down customers and damaging displays.      The police arrested 15 of the teenagers and, according to one report, some had not been allowed to call their parents six hours after they were detained.



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