Flash Mobs Hit Baltimore

Posted by - Thursday, September 1st, 2011

The buzz of mob activity is floating uncomfortably close to home in recent weeks. Just a couple blocks away from my home in fact...

Back in April, Baltimore city police had to use megaphones to get 100 teenagers off the streets near the Inner Harbor, Convention Center, and City Hall. Property damange and at least one stabbing was reported. The truly eerie part is that, when the teens were questioned about what they were doing, they simply said, "it's the day after Easter."

Robberies and completley unprovoked attacks from groups of teens in surrounding areas has been reported more frequently in the past couple of years.

As mob activity is spiking around the nation and around the world, Baltimore officials are worried about "flash mobs," as local teen pranks are becoming increasingly more serious and dangerous. Social media networking makes spontaneous group activity easy to facilitate.

Earlier this summer, unexpected riots broke out at the Caribbean Day Festival in D.C. at the Howard University Strip. At least four people were reported to be shot as angry mobsters took over the streets:

 

And in Philadelphia, similar "flash mobs" have congregated together this summer. Groups of teens have attacked randomly on the streets near touristy, shopping areas.

From The Washington Times:

In one episode, teens knocked down passers-by on a Center City street and entered an upscale department store where they assaulted shoppers. On another occasion, hundreds of teens gathered in a restaurant district and menaced patrons, forcing some restaurant owners to lock customers inside temporarily for their own protection or to close early.

In the latest event July 29, about 20 to 30 youths descended on Center City after dark, then punched, beat and robbed bystanders. One man was kicked so savagely that he was hospitalized with a fractured skull. Police arrested four people, including an 11-year-old.

In response, the weekend curfew for minors was moved up to 9 p.m. Parents in Philly are now responsible for increased fines, each time their child is in violation of the earlier curfew.

And just this past weekend, the Baltimore juvenile curfew center caught children as young as 8-years-old out after 1:30 in the morning. The increased sense of urgency in regards to the mob-madness spreading across the country, has cities everywhere taking action, trying to keep the streets free from violence and harm.

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According to THE BALTIMORE SUN:

Though city officials said they have not seen any evidence of "flash robs" in Baltimore, there appears to have been at least one incident that fits the bill: Records show that on successive nights, groups of 10 and 15 youths robbed a 7-Eleven on Hanover Street in Federal Hill in July.

The term is a play on "flash mobs," a phrase that originally referred to people who used social media to flood an area and break into spontaneous song or dance — innocuous pranks. This summer, pranks have evolved into something more serious, with authorities saying that social media tools may have been used to coordinate crimes in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Chicago and the Washington area.

More broadly, the reports appear to indicate a trend of a youth crime involving large groups who use their numbers to overwhelm retailers and law enforcement officers, though not necessarily using social media.

Ideally, police officers will take the initiative to become more savvy with social media networking sites in order to follow online trends that may suggest --and, in turn, the police can help prevent-- potentially dangerous mob-like gatherings in the future.

Unfortunately, it seems like the "flash mob" trend is only just beginning...

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