Teens say a lack of resources is driving uptick in nuisance mass gatherings in Philadelphia

Christie Ileto Image
Wednesday, June 21, 2023
Teens sound off about what's driving rise in nuisance mass gatherings
Many young people in Philadelphia say a lack of resources is fueling a rise in mass gatherings and even some shootings across the city.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- From TikTok taunts to flash mobs, authorities say social media has fueled many chaotic gatherings and even some shootings, but many young people in Philadelphia will tell you the issue is much deeper.

"I feel like it's a lack of resources," said Kenyon Habershan. "When there's nothing to do, (young people) find something to do and it's not always positive."

Some teens say idle time is driving large gatherings across the city, from South Philadelphia to East Market Street, Penns Landing to I-95.

"It's Instagram, social media in general," said Samia Glenn. "It's meme pages that everybody follows."

She says many young people follow these social media pages.

"Yes, young people follow," she said. "So somebody posts something it would be like: 'Oh go here at such and such time.' They're going to go."

Glenn says she won't follow these so-called social media blasts.

"I'm not about to waste my time and energy, where I know it is about to pop off wrong," she said.

When things "pop off," that means it can quickly turn violent. And in a city that has faced a historically high murder rate and a number of shootings, teens say sometimes it's as simple as someone's pride that can trigger lawlessness.

"Instead of fighting, speaking it out - they would rather grab a gun and then it elevates real quick," said Habershan.

Victims of these violent gatherings include 14 teens who attend nonprofit Level Up that have been shot in the last year.

Like many other anti-gun violence programs, the organization continues to be a safe haven for hundreds of young people across the city.

"If we weren't guided here, we would have never known about this place," said Tayquan Thorpe.

The teens often bring others into the organization and off the streets.

"And then they like it and realize it's a good thing to do, rather than be outside in the streets," said Glenn.

They say it's a matter of getting connected through word of mouth and relying on positive organizations and each other to stay safe and motivated.

"I feel like all the youth should have a goal," said Habershan. "A resource you have that you can do to strive to get better. Something your working towards because a lot of people are working towards nothing."

Many of these teens associated with Level Up are cultivating their interests at the nonprofit, from building a clothing line, to a mini hair business and a music career. And it's these passions that are helping to keep them on the right path.