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Flash mob in Philly

It appears that the city of Philadelphia has yet another image crisis to face head on. Whether it has been a high murder rate in recent years, a reputation for dirty streets, or accusations of City Hall corruption that precipitated a highly publicized FBI investigation; the city of Brotherly Love has had a hard time escaping negative attention in recent years.

Now comes latest black eye to the city’s already stained public image. Last week, an estimated 2,000 city teenagers; acting primarily upon text messages and social networking sites, converged on South Street in Philadelphia. This “flash mob” as the media is referring to them, rampaged through the streets holding up traffic, beating up bystanders and damaging businesses along the street.

This is the latest in a recent string of similar incidents to strike the city. Last Saturday’s incident was the fourth such to occur within the last year. A flash mob in February spilled into a downtown department store where fighting and vandalism forced shoppers and employees to scramble for safety. Twenty-Eight teens were charged with felonies for rioting in the February mob and more will be charged in the latest March incident.

The first of the four mobs in May 2009 also saw looting, as out of control youths crashed a convenience store and subsequent lawlessness took place. The mayor and chief of police are calling for parents to better monitor their kids or face prosecution.

Meanwhile, some newspaper columnists at the Philadelphia Inquirer have taken to marginalize the event by saying we can’t judge the whole group, based upon the actions of the few. While this is true to a point, where is the better judgment by the majority of those who were not charged to avoid the situation completely?

These teenagers are certainly old enough to know right from wrong and use common sense to stay away from a potentially dangerous situation. Without such a large congregation of people in a small area, a mob mentality would certainly not have taken hold and run rampant through a group of unsupervised kids. In this sense, those who were not charged are just as responsible for causing another riot and stain on the city’s record.