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Friday, August 12, 2011

Flash Mobs Turn Violent, Become ‘Flash Robs’

Flash mobs are usually associated with random dance numbers or large-scale pillow fights. They’re organized over social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and tell people where to be – like at a mall, a park, a coffee shop- and what to bring – such as a costume, boombox or sweet dance moves.

But recently, gangs have commandeered the innocent “flash mob” and turned it into a “flash rob.” Social media is being used to organize groups of 50 to 100 young people that all descend on the same store or area and loot it.

Philadelphia, Pa. has been hit especially hard by this summer’s “Flash Robs.” So far there have been several injuries as a result of the violent robbing. The Police Department there has put in curfews for minors–with fines of up to $300 for the kids and $500 for their parents. The city is also extending hours at teen recreational centers, to help give kids something else to do.

We’ll talk with the Philadelphia Police Commissioner about how his city is cracking down on large groups of teenagers, and what police in the UK may be able to learn from American law enforcement efforts.


  • Charles Ramsey, Philadelphia Police Commissioner

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  • Rorytn

    Someone plug the xbox live back in!

    • UPenn Student

      they would….if they could afford an xbox live…..

      Nonetheless, the behavior acceptable and quite frankly, alarming. Parents need to take responsibility, I don’t understand how any parent can justify this. Probably because many parents are young (too young) and inexperienced. I’m a student at Penn and I really do find this alarming.

      • UPenn Student

        **unacceptable, silly mistake , sorry.

  • Tan Gardner

    My daughter and I returned home (suburban Philadelphia) this past Sunday after a week long trip to London–just before the London riots became out of control.  It’s ironic how both cities are dealing with the same issues–disenfranchised youth, economic depression and lack of social mobility for many (who happen to be people of color) due to social conditions.  This new trend of  Flash Robs (in both cities) should be examined in a historical context. Other cities need to also take note and develop an overall strategy to engage groups that historically are not at the decision-making table.

  • Dale Orkus

    In case you’re interested, here’s the source/etymology for the term “flash crowd” as it was originally envisioned:

  • Susan kuhlman

    I used to teach in a town that did not have a curfew and I was amazed by the number of my students, grade 7, who were out and about late at night, even on school days. I tell people to ask about a curfew before they purchase a house in a town or city.

  • Jilliles

    I think Mr. Ramsey needs to be more articulate.  Instead of using words like “thug”, “thieves”, and acting out “crimes”, perhaps he could say that the unacceptable behaviour of these people,is them inappropriately acting out their anger.  It would be more descriptive, and a lot of people are angry about the incredible injustices happening, but choose to channel the anger constructively.  Mr. Ramsey sounds a bit like a thug himself, I fear.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_STOILZQTPFVL2UKVGH7YFXJ254 Reiko

      You are ignorant and very likely, part of the problem … seemingly pointing at everthing but the facts.

  • Brazilb69

    think that Robin asked the correct questions – but never got the correct answer
    (from the Chief). Why, she asked? Because they are black, lawless, thugs. This
    kind of behavior has been going on for 50 + years. My home town of Detroit was
    decimated by my black brothers & sisters. Any city in this country that has
    a majority black population – is a failure;   Detroit, Philly, Oakland, New Orleans,
    Atlanta. They have rampant crime, poor schools & too many babies out of
    wedlock.  They give all of us black’s a
    bad name. I had to cringe when I noticed that the majority of rioters in London
    were black too. 95% of all crime is black on black. I went from protesting for
    civil rights  –  to moving away to the country to raise my


    know, I know, someone will write that I am a white person masquerading as a
    black person. How could a black person write so eloquently?

  • Concerned about Hypocicy

    Why does npr want to avoid the race of these flash mobs?  If these were mobs of white youth beating up black people you would be sure the media would see race as the central motivation. This would be a huge issue and I am sure the justice department would be going after rioters for hate crimes. 

    There is great hypocrisy in this country where so called minorities are always the victims and whites are always the evil doers. Wake up!

    See: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/08/10/flashmob-attacks-in-us-cities-raise-questions-over-possible-race-motivation/#ixzz1UhCu1R94

  • Anonymous

    50 years of entitlement, decades of exploitation by self appointed race hustling poverty pimps, an attorney general who excuses black on white crimes and more recently the fanning of the race rage fire by desperate democrat politicians.  All of this has created a race based social group which feels empowered to butcher us for little more than instant gratification.  It is rapidly reaching a point of survival for the civilized citizenry of this nation.  In the interest of self preservation, it may be time to take the guns and ammunition most of us have been buying and put them in our pockets so that we can protect ourselves and our families when we are at home or in public.  The inability of our law enforcement and judicial system to prevent or respond to this collapse of society leaves few other options. The horrible and historically proven truth may be, the only option remaining for the preservation of our way of life is for the citizenry to respond to this violence with much worse violence.  I fear the situation will become much worse before the inevitable occurs. 

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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