Oh You Kids and Your Flash Mobs

By Randy LoBasso
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 29 | Posted Mar. 22, 2010

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Hours before chaos broke out, South Street wasn’t looking too hot. As I polished off a late Saturday afternoon can of Pabst at MaKo’s (it was the first day of spring, after all) my girlfriend suggested we get out of there. “Something doesn’t feel right,” she said. “Something’s going to happen here.” Hours later we’d be headed home, walking south on 6th Street, past two kids getting cuffed out front Bistro La Minette and a gigantic crowd getting rowdy just a few blocks west.

But we basically missed all the action. Frank DiCicco may be emitting a smug smile when he learns that this weekend, Philly teens again used Twitter and Facebook to mobilize a flash mob on South Street at 9 p.m. NBC 10 says parents alerted police about something going down after “seeing messages on their childrens’ mobile devices telling them to come to South Street.”

At 10 p.m., the Inquirer reported, teens were forced to disperse from South after cops used pepper spray and intimidation. The crowd then made its way to the clothespin at 15th and Market, encountering, according to one eyewitness’ report, 32 police cars.

Around 11, the crowd headed back to South Street. Many businesses had closed for the night because of the violence. A 27-year-old woman was attacked at 15th and South, brought to the ground by a group of teens. Several still-open businesses, today calling on Mayor Nutter to do something to quell the violence, fought off ransacking crowds. Police Capt. Michael Ryan says shots were fired around 13th and South at 11:30, though eyewitnesses say it was more like 11:15 (neither of these times could be confirmed) and three people were arrested for disorderly conduct and aggravated assault.

What’s going on with these kids? After the teenage riots on Feb. 16 and March 3 (though there have been six of these incidents since last May), 35 youngins were given trial dates by Judge Kevin Dougherty, who also gave them a piece of his mind, at one point asking a child’s parent, “If she doesn’t fear the police, who does she fear?” It’s a good question, one to which we don't yet have an answer. Coincidentally, those trials are scheduled to take place today and tomorrow.

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Comments 1 - 29 of 29
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1. Christina Franklin said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 08:37AM

“This only way to stop these flashmobs is to start heavily fining the parents. That's the best way to get anyone's attention. Once you get into peoples pockets this will stop. As the mother of a teenager I would make sure she didn't do anything in the streets to cause me to lose money.”

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2. SocietyHiller said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 09:18AM

“Fining parents would be great if it wouldn't create more of a financial burden to try to collect on the fines. I've lived in that neighborhood for 8 years, and I've never felt unsafe until now. These kids have been swearing, littering and graffiti-ing up and down South Street for long enough. It's time to lower the curfew to 9pm and protect the taxpayers (and our property taxes are hefty) who chose that neighborhood because of our sense of safety, community and respect for our city. Get rid of these thugs for good.”

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3. Anonymous said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 09:27AM

“Please stop calling these flash mobs. Flash mobs are fun and whimsical events, not violent and destructive. This is organized rioting.”

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4. thisiswhathappens said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 09:37AM

“I'm with Anonymous #3. When I heard about flash mobs, I thought they were the dancing we have back home-people basically start randomly dancing...or pillow fighting. Not this crap. And I don't know if fining would work, most of these kids are unsupervised because their parents are at work-these aren't people who can afford fines. There should be more programs to keep kids from having nothing better to do than riot and beat people up.”

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5. lynn said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 09:46AM

“As said by #3 & 4; these are not flash mobs. There definitely needs to be greater consequence involved for all who participate, not just the few caught doing something considered unlawful. Police should be in all of Philly's schools (not just public schools I might add) at this very moment educating teens and striking some fear into them. No more officer friendly. And Mayor Nutter? If you want to raise taxes, make us feel that we will benefit - i.e we want to feel safe!!! Where can I take my out-of town visitor this weekend and not feel threatened?”

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6. GETTING FED UP ! said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 09:48AM

“Fine the parents and round the kids up and send them to book camp for a week or chain gang them and make them pick up trash on the roadways ! These aren't kids who need more programs, they are just punks who have low morales and a total lack of respect for anything. I know it's not popular to mention the fact that all 3 "flash mobs" were african american youths - but it is what it is. Whats going on in these households that so many of these kids think its acceptable to behave this way - PARENTS START PARENTING YOUR KID AND DON'T MAKE EXCUSES FOR THEIR BAD BEHAVIOUR AND YOUR LACK OF GOOD PARENTING 1”

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7. south phiily said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:17AM

“I was thinking along the same lines; round them up and lock them into the schools. Why should patrons of local businesses be locked in?
Their release will depend upon submitting something creative in any venue that they choose and of course, they can only be released into the hands of their parents.”

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8. Anonymous said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:32AM

“Did you mean MaKos?”

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9. derdnik said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 12:19PM

“Though Im sure most will disagree, I say fight violence with violence. Allow police to use harsher crowd control techniques. Tazers, batons, water cannons, and rubber bullets. These kids are attacking civillians, who, if they defend themselves, could face assault on a minor charges. If beaten by the police, they would probably be less likely to answer the call of chaos the next time around.”

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10. Anonymous said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 01:49PM

“As far as the so called "Flash Mobs", there are just that, mobs. Most of these kids are probobly descent kids with too long of a leash. They meet up with 10, 50, 500, 1500 of there peers(thanks to technology) and mob mentality takes over. You only need a bold 1% of bad kids to whip everyone else into a frenzy. Everyone else is doing it, I guess it must be OK. Where are the great Boxing trainers of Philly to step up and channel this fighting anger. You wanna kick someones butt.... step into the ring. Seems barbaric but hey......we gotta do something.”

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11. Krunch said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 01:52PM

“I agree with number 3, these are not the flash mobs singing show tunes, these are thugs "wilding out" like during greek week. Don't bother trying to fine the parents they wouldn't pay the fine even if they had the money. This response is not about race, its about an obvious lack of parenting, education, and self respect. Dogs that bite go to the pound, animals that behave badly should go to jail.”

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12. Anonymous said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 04:14PM

“So many of the terms are politically correct rhetoric! "Flash Mob" = Rioting. "Pushing pedestrians over" = Beating & mugging while rioting.
"Youths" = Young, almost all black, thugs & hoodlums...

It's unbelievable how much civil society has to put up with feral behavior!”

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13. Anonymous said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 06:09PM

“lock up mon and dad”

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14. Anonymous said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 06:16PM

“Phila not safe any more”

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15. Anonymous said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:27PM

“#12 most of Philadelphia is black so calling them local youth it's understood that they are black. Of your "feral" behavior...it's called idle unsupervised, unmonitored youth whether they are Columbine killers, pill popping socialites or child militia members they are OUR kids and if their parents can't address them our communities must. Strictly penalty and curfews. Who needs to hear whining with no solutions save it for your "civil society" of inaction.”

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16. Anonymous said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:35PM

“My generation fears nothing and it scares me to death because I have no clue why. This is sad and embarrassing. What logic is used to support such ideas and what purpose could justify it? I mean I know it's hard to be a lower-class parent because you lack time, motivation, and energy, but Jesus something needs to happen here, and as sad as it sounds, it's practically too late by these kids ages. You know if they have no respect for strangers or police, they lost respect for mom and dad years ago, even they even still contact them on a daily basis. I think these are kids who have had to create their own foundations and morals because some parents only have time to put a roof over the head and nourishment in their body's time to time. Not set standards. And people should not have kids if that's the case, but they are here, and something needs to be done. Reality needs to scare them to death. Because by the looks of them, these kids are not 'gang bangers' and 'thugs,' they're just punks.”

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17. It Takes A Village, Idiot said... on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:41PM

“when are adults going to realize that young people need guidance and lots of it starting at infancy? you can't blame parents who didn't have guidance when they were young for not knowing how to guide their progeny. it takes a village to raise a child. what are you doing to make your community stronger? want to stop these flash mobs? try becoming a big brother/big sister, volunteer at an after-school center, become a mentor, GET INVOLVED IN A YOUNG PERSON'S LIFE.”

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18. the view from ny said... on Mar 23, 2010 at 05:22AM

“Philadelphia is so gorgeous, but your first clue that something's not quite right is when you learn how reasonably priced owning or renting in Center City is.... and how 2 blocks this way or that way makes such a world of difference, no matter where you are in Philly... -- much more than anywhere in NYC -- so it's hard to get completely comfortable there or consider living there. It's really too bad, since it really is one the most elegant spots in the USA. It's right up there with London. But London's really violent now too....”

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19. Anonymous said... on Mar 23, 2010 at 07:52AM

“Shoot to kill if you are cought in one of these mobs. Cowards love to be in a croud.”

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20. Frank Rizzo Style said... on Mar 23, 2010 at 11:31AM

“Start beating the shit out of them. No arrests. Just about bad enough to hospitalize several of them. That will get the message through. Let a few kids watch the police taser, tanfa, billy club, and generally kick the shit out of a few of these punks, a good 5 on 1 Rodney King style beating, and see how many kids are going to want to show up for the next flash mob event. Bring back the mounted patrols too. Trot 8 horses over the mob, and don't stop until the street is clear. Fear and pain will instill some respect. You would put down a bad animal for less. Lets treat these punks like what they are, animals. Take the gloves off Mayor Nutter. Our city is dying on the vine. No one is going to want to come into Philadelphia anymore. Its already prohibitively expensive to park, you get your car broken into if you leave anything inside, now you get to be assaulted by teenagers? What person in their right mind would own a business in this city?”

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21. kia the parent said... on Mar 23, 2010 at 01:54PM

“see the parents who warned the police are PARENTS. but the majority of those kids, their parents are not at work like previously stated. hey are probably out on south street or some place hanging out too. just as long as their kids arent in their hair, they could care less. i think we should start fining parents. cant pay the fine, lock the parent up. you fine and lock up parents for truancy, what makes this so different.”

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22. How come nobody has asked... said... on Mar 24, 2010 at 12:56PM

“Why has no one asked WHAT is making these kids feel the need to become ORGANIZED and effectively SHUT DOWN large parts of the city? Does everyone think that all Teens are this political? The fact that they can mobilize 150 of their closest friends is remarkable, particularly when most Philadelphians will only get together for something Eagles of Phillies related. If you ask me, there's something more here than just "miscreant" kids with shitty parents. If adults would take their heads out of their asses long enough to stop looking for someone to blame and start asking the right questions, we may have the answers to this puzzle before a kid gets killed. Seriously, we all know that this is how this is gonna end up: some poor Black kid is gonna get shot by some middle class white cop, and shit is going to hit the fan hard. Who are you going to blame then?”

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23. Anonymous said... on Mar 24, 2010 at 07:47PM

“How about confiscating their mobile devices?? That would put a serious glich in their communications.”

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24. Anonymous said... on Mar 24, 2010 at 08:40PM

“fuck it. if some 10 to 16 year olds want to get roughed up, let it happen.”

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25. Anonymous said... on Mar 25, 2010 at 09:31AM

“#22 what is political about beating up a twenty seven year old? it would be great if this had political fuel behind it because it would mean that these kids care about something. i'm sorry, but growing up in the philly public school system i'd say that i have seen these kids before. this IS their entertainment and they don't give a damn because they know they can we live in a society where people find out about major disasters via twitter, you really think it's so hard to meet up on south street after school when you have nothing better to do and you don't give a fuck about anything else?
these kids need a wake up call. shuttle them home from school on buses so they dont get in trouble. put patrols out. and YES, MORE FUNDING FOR YOUTH VIOLENCE PREVENTION. this city thinks that just because the murder rate is down, everything else has become hunkey dorey? fix schools, fix neighborhood and we will fix our children. there is such a high disparity in the quality of living in this city.”

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26. mark said... on Mar 25, 2010 at 05:49PM

“Treat them as they are, a angry mob. Rubber bullits, teargas put those little bastards in jail.”

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27. jaydee said... on Apr 6, 2010 at 07:15PM

“These are not flash mobs but are riots by feral groups of 'children' bent on racist attacks. Was there any trouble at last week's real flash mob at 30th Street station? Obviously not because that flash mob was composed of civilized kids who are in the process of getting an education unlike the South Street rioters. I think that the parents of any kid involved in these riots that is on any form of public assistance should have ALL benefits stopped immediately. Maybe if we stop feeding these animals they will go somewhere else!”

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28. Georgina Hawkins said... on Aug 26, 2010 at 08:12PM

“Opinions required! I'm researching flash mobbing for my final year geography dissertation at the University of Nottingham and need the views of people who have participated in ONE OR MORE flash mobs. If you could take a few minutes to complete my questionnaire I'd be very greatful!


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29. Nick from Long Island said... on Aug 13, 2011 at 10:35AM

“Funny, I was considering a roadtrip to Philadelphia....I never knew crap like this goes on there. No way for me!”


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