City officials crack down on flash mobs

PHILADELPHIA - August 5, 2011

Flash mobs have happened on several occasions in the city, the most recent last Friday in South Philadelphia.

Friday night, officials took measures by including a huge police presence in Center City.

There are two curfews currently in effect, one for anyone 13 years old and under, beginning at 10:00pm, and another at midnight for everyone 17 and under.

Police teams were out in full force, on foot, on bikes and on mounted patrol, rolling through the streets of Center City.

The message was clear, city officials fed up with violent flash mobs, plan to shutdown any activity before it starts.

"I think the manpower is great, the community has been great, and I think that the parents are finally starting to get the message," says Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison.

In a move that signaled a united front, District Attorney Seth Williams and his security team were out on foot keeping tabs on the situation.

"Kids have to know that ignorant, violent behavior is unacceptable, and that news is best coming from other kids telling them that it is unacceptable," says D.A. Seth Williams. "Parents have to be accountable. They have to know where their kids are. There's no reason for an 11 year old to be out in the dark stumping people."

It was just a week ago that a gang of 20 to 40 kids, including one 11 year old, attacked two people at random in Center City.

Four people, including the 11 year old, were arrested and charged.

It is the latest in a rash of flash mob incidents that has alarmed officials and citizens.

Mayor Nutter's office announced that he and other officials will unveil a coordinated response, not only from a law enforcement perspective, but one that will address the culture that promotes such behavior.

"We have to make sure that a small group of people don't ruin it for everybody else," said Williams.

Four weeks ago, the city launched the "I Pledge Campaign", an effort to combat violence asking everyone to take a stand.

"We're asking for individual responsibility for the people," said Gillison. "You come up and ask 'I'm pledging to do something against violence in this city, what are you prepared to do?'"

The city plans to keep up the presence for at least five weeks or until the situation is under control.

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