This is “culture” in Philly – flash mobs

It has been going on since last summer. Groups of young people descending upon a neighborhood or street causing mayhem. (Stories here and here) Organized over internet social networking sites and text messaging, these hoodlums create all sorts of havoc: carjacking, assault, robbery, and vandalism. The police have made numerous arrests and have promised to step up their presence in the affected areas. The latest incident took place Saturday, March 20th as “hundreds” of thugs gathered on South Street, an upscale area of shops and restaurants. Merchants locked their doors to protect their customers and several people were assaulted. (more here)

The crowd brought traffic along South Street to a standstill and caused drivers to nervously sit in their cars while police tried to disperse the youths.

Businesses along South Street locked their doors, and some restaurants kept their patrons inside to keep them safe.

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Barbara Bender, who has been a waitress and manager at South Street Souvlaki at 509 South St. for about 30 years.

Normally the popular restaurant is open Saturdays until 10:30 or 11 p.m., but it closed last night at 9:30.

“It’s a bunch of young kids that are creating havoc, and it’s killing our business,” she said. “It’s scary.”

Details from other flash mob incidents tell a similar story of mayhem.

Several people were injured when a flash mob of at least 100 converged at Broad and South Streets on May 30. A 54-year-old man riding his bicycle home from work was critically injured when he beaten by a group of young men. A cabdriver was assaulted and robbed at 12th and South. And two people were pulled from a vehicle on Broad Street and assaulted and robbed.

Mobs of teens have disrupted Center City three times in the last three months. On Dec. 18, students from several city high schools responded to a call via Facebook to participate in a massive gathering in response to fights at the Gallery food court. Some of the teens later randomly attacked pedestrians on nearby Center City streets.

In a Feb. 16 melee, 150 teens spilled out of the Gallery during rush hour and then rampaged through the nearby Macy’s, knocking down pedestrians and damaging displays.

After fights broke out in the late afternoon of March 3, police made 28 arrests and charged the teens with felony rioting.

Since the mobs are almost entirely black, a local TV station pulled in perennial race pimp Jesse Jackson for an interview (more here). Jackson, calling the thugs “children,” predictably attributed the mayhem to “poverty.” That’s right, it was the “poor” children organizing peaceful demonstrations from their internet accounts and cell phones. They just got a little out of hand, that’s all.

No Jesse, this is your culture on display here.

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