Politics

Flash mob attacks in Philadelphia

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Flash mobs, typically organized for fun -- like this pillow fight in Manchester, England -- have turned violent. (Image by Flickr user mattwi1s0n (cc))

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Typically, flash mobs are organized through social networks for fun, but in Philadelphia they have been organized to commit acts of violence. As a result, Mayor Michael Nutter announced that any persons under the age of 18 years old will have a curfew of 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays.

"These are attacks on people," said Charles Ramsey, Philadelphia Police Commissioner. "What the motivation is I have absolutely no idea, other than the fact that it's causing a tremendous problem and I’m very concerned for who lives here in the city."

According to Ramsey, nearly a thousand kids will show up to some flash mobs. Instances have included a rampage through a Macys department store, and attacks on citizens in the street.

"They were yelling like, 'hey, it's a flash mob you better run'," recalls a woman who was ambushed by a recent flash mob. "Then some kid ran out of the crowd, kind of a little kid actually, and socked my friend in the face."

Ramsey doesn't believe the solution is to limit the social networks being used to organize these situations. "Do we need to have tough laws in place for people who misuse social networking? Absolutely," he said. "You’re not going to shut it down, they will just find another way of communicating." 

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