Flash Mob Epidemic
August 16th, 2011
Flash mobs used to be so much fun. A group of people would arrange to meet in a public place at a particular time and would perform a song or a dance number or some other form of entertainment very suddenly and without warning. Well, the term "flash mob" is rapidly coming to mean something else now. All over the country, young people are using social media and other forms of communication to coordinate shocking large scale crimes. At first there were just a few isolated "mob robberies" around the country, but now we have a full-fledged flash mob epidemic on our hands. Sometimes these flash mobs are involved in "mass shoplifting" events, and in other cases flash mobs are just committing random acts of violence. But it is a very disturbing sign for our nation that all over the country we have large groups of young people that are banding together to commit very serious crimes. This is something that is really unprecedented in modern U.S. history, and it is yet another indication that our society is starting to fall apart.
So exactly what do these flash mobs look like?
The video [above] of a flash mob conducting a "mob robbery" in a 7-11 in Montgomery County, Maryland on August 13th, 2011....
Authorities keep telling us that they have everything under control, but these kinds of incidents continue to become more frequent.
Other examples of this flash mob phenomenon have been captured on video in Stockton, California, in Washington D.C. and in Las Vegas.
But flash mobs are not just engaged in shoplifting. Recently, we have seen quite a few incidents where flash mobs have been involved in mass violence.
Back on July 4th, approximately 1,000 young people violently disrupted an Independence Day celebration in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights. Reportedly, the young people used social media websites to mobilize for the event.
Even more disturbing is what happened recently at the Wisconsin state fair. The following is how one local ABC News affiliate described the "flash mob" attacks that took place....
Milwaukee police said that around 11:10 p.m., squads were sent to the area for reports of battery, fighting and property damage being caused by an unruly crowd of "hundreds" of people. One officer described it as a "mob beating."
*******Police said the group of young people attacked fair goers who were leaving the fair grounds. Police said that some victims were attacked while walking. They said others were pulled out of cars and off of motorcycles before being beaten.
Could you imagine taking your family to the state fair only to be pulled out of your car and beaten up by a horde of violent youths?
Yes, this is now happening in the heartland of America.
But the biggest problems with flash mobs have been in highly concentrated urban areas. In America today there are millions of young men and women that don't have jobs and that don't have any hope and they are starting to take out their frustrations on innocent people.
So far this year, the worst flash mob violence has been in Chicago. In a recent article, Janet Tavakoli attempted to describe the horrifying violence that has been unleashed in the city by these flash mobs....
This year, all hell has broken loose in downtown Chicago. Years of under-hiring have resulted in a police force that is unprepared for wildings and gang violence. Moreover, concealed carry in Chicago is illegal, unless one follows the Constitution.
Tourists and residents have been attacked by mobs of youths on buses, on beaches, on bicycle paths, near the shops of the Magnificent Mile, and outside their homes. Mobs of shoplifters plagued "Mug Mile" stores.
Even in some of the "best areas" of Chicago, people are being pulled off of bikes and pulled out of cars. Innocent people that are just minding their own business are being brutally attacked.
The following is one eyewitness account of a flash mob attack in Chicago that Tavakoli included in her recent article....
At about 11pm last Friday night, June 3rd, I heard shouting, screaming, horns blaring and tires screeching from my apartment...When I looked out my window to the street below I saw a crowd of about 20 young people...directly across the street from the entrance to my building. They were leaning on parked cars and clogging the street. They were screaming at people walking and driving by. I watched them stop vehicles, including taxi cabs, and pull people from the vehicles...It was a frightening scene and I was sure someone was going to be hurt.
The violence in Chicago has become so extreme that even The Wall Street Journal is reporting on it. The following is how a recent article in the Journal described one eyewitness account....
In another incident last Saturday evening, Krzysztof Wilkowski, after shopping on Michigan Avenue, was sitting on his scooter a couple of blocks away checking his phone for a restaurant when he got whacked in the face with a baseball.
At first, he said, he thought it was a prank, but then he looked up and saw 15 to 20 young men approaching. "My first reaction was, 'I'm about to get robbed, what do I do?' " Mr. Wilkowski recalled in an interview.
The 34-year-old insurance company employee from a Chicago suburb grabbed the keys from his ignition and held tight to his phone. A few of the attackers dragged him off his scooter and pulled him onto Chicago Avenue where they punched him, hit him with his helmet and tried to grab his phone.
What would you do if you had 15 or 20 young men approaching you?
Don't think that it can't happen to you.
The truth is that we can no longer trust that our fellow citizens are going to behave with common decency.
Our society is crumbling, and fewer people than ever seem to have any sense of morality.
All over the nation we are seeing some really bizarre crimes right now. This isn't just happening in the big cities. Just check out some of the recent crimes that have been committed all around the nation....
*In Louisiana recently, a 30-year-old man decapitated his 7-year-old son with a meat cleaver and left his head on the side of the road. What made this crime even more shocking is the fact that the son was suffering from cerebral palsy and was confined to a wheelchair. Reportedly the man had gotten "tired of taking care" of the young child. The following is an excerpt from a Daily Mail report about this horrible crime....
A father has admitted to chopping his son's head off with a meat cleaver and leaving it in the roadside outside his home so that the child's mother would see it.
*In Georgia on Monday, a 14-year-old teen stabbed his grandmother and his great-grandmother with a sword. The 77-year-old great grandmother is dead, but it looks like the grandmother is going to be okay.
*A 21-year-old man in the Chicago area is accused of killing his father with a weed trimmer while his father was sleeping in bed.
*A 19-year-old man from Galveston, Texas who claims to be a vampire recently stormed into a young woman's apartment and started biting her on the neck. Reportedly he was "growling and hissing" while attacking her.
*Recently a 17-year-old Florida teen killed his parents with a hammer, hid their bodies in the master bedroom, and then invited dozens of people over for a massive house party.
The hearts of Americans are growing cold. We have become so desensitized to violence that reports like these barely even affect us anymore.
The United States is becoming a very cruel place. As the economy continues to crumble and as people become even more desperate, the flash mob attacks are going to become more frequent and the bizarre crimes are going to become even more horrible.
We are now starting to reap what we have been sowing for the last several decades. We have thrown away the principles that made this country great, and we have taught our young people that morality really doesn't matter. Now we will pay the price.
Flash-mob violence raises weighty questions
By John Timpane, Inquirer Staff Writer
August 14, 2011
Flash mobs were born in 2003 as spontaneous get-togethers, with large groups alerted to an event via text message, Facebook, Twitter, or other social media. Witness April's insta-opera at Reading Terminal, a video of which went viral on YouTube.
This summer, says Margaret Rock, editor at Multimedia.com in Chicago, "I don't know why, but what started out as something used for good has shown its dark side." That dark side now shadows social media, raising issues of law enforcement and constitutional rights.
Philadelphia is in the center of a summer spasm of group violence across the country. From Minneapolis, Chicago, and Cleveland to Washington and New York, people have used social media to organize robberies, fights, and mayhem. Such media are suspected in group violence in Center City and in areas such as Upper Darby, where a mob rampaged through the Sears store on June 21.
It's been worse in the United Kingdom, with riots in London, Birmingham, Manchester, and elsewhere. Rioters relayed information via BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), the instant-messaging app for BlackBerrys. One text read: "If you're down for making money, we're about to go hard in east London."
Not only were some riots organized via text, tweet, and post, but some mobbers posted surveillance-camera videos of the flash rob afterward on YouTube.
"Face it," says Rock: "Social media are the lamppost of this age."
Philadelphia's flash-mob headaches date from the South Street mobs of March 2010, when hundreds choked the area, leading to injuries and property damage. Last month, 15 to 25 people attacked bystanders at random in Center City, prompting Mayor Nutter's impassioned Aug. 7 speech at Mount Carmel Baptist Church.
The next day, Nutter and District Attorney Seth Williams announced measures to discourage flash mobbing, including moved-up curfews in parts of the city and fines for breaking curfew. The city is working with the FBI to track criminal use of social media.
Everett Gillison, deputy mayor for public safety, says the push involves a positive effort "to reach some of these kids through the very media they use, through Facebook and Twitter, to win the hearts and minds of these kids."
The New York Police Department just started a new task force that trolls Facebook and other services to track down bad guys. Police have arrested one Ten Most Wanted guy, who taunted them on Facebook: "Catch me if you can, I'm in Brooklyn." They could and did.
On Thursday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would consider banning rioters from social media: "We are working with the police, the intelligence services, and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder, and criminality."
BlackBerrys are more popular among young people in Europe than in the United States, where smartphones are more prevalent. One reason: BBM is highly encrypted - written and protected in a complex, impenetrable code - and so is nigh impossible to break into or disrupt. Rioters used BBM as a closed network, and Cameron, plainly frustrated, talked of giving police "the technology to trace people on Twitter or BBM or close it down."
Could that happen in the United States, with its First Amendment guarantees of free speech?
Lyle Denniston,e National Constitution Center adviser on constitutional literacy and a writer for SCOTUSblog, which tracks the Supreme Court, says decisions such as Brandenburg v. Ohio of 1969 have set the bar pretty high. "A Twitter or Facebook message," he says, "would have to say, 'We will meet at Broad and Market Street tomorrow at 10:30 and begin an assault on City Hall. Bring your Uzis.' If it's not that explicit or direct, it would be very difficult to argue for regulation."
Besides, Denniston says, the court would favor the role new media played in the Iranian elections of 2009 and 2010, or this year's Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt. "They'd weigh the social good of such media very heavily against the government's desire to regulate them."
"We don't want to be known as trampling on civil liberties," Gillison says. "However, you don't have a First Amendment right to use this mass association in a criminal way."
Rosa Golijan, technology blogger for MSNBC.com, says why look at people's private stuff when so much is available publicly? "Many of the kids who have been organizing flash mobs post on Facebook pages anyone can access," she says. "On Twitter, you can see trending topics by city that will show you what people around you are talking about right now."
Pressure is likely to come down on manufacturers to cooperate. Should Research in Motion, maker of BlackBerry Messenger, make its product easier to surveil? Or help law enforcement? If it did, wouldn't its product, whose selling point is privacy, be less attractive to law-abiding consumers?
"As encryption technology advances, it will be a harder and harder question," Rock says. "Manufacturers will have to balance the needs of law enforcement and the needs of their customers."
The summer of the flash rob flashes by. And cities, courts, and police run to catch up with social media, pondering whether there will ever be a way to keep a few bad messengers from ruining it for the rest of us.*******
Violent Flash Mob Epidemic a Spiritual Issue?
CBN News Reporter
Thursday, October 27, 2011
PHILADELPHIA -- Flash mobs have become a pop culture phenomenon, popularized when videos of large groups of people breaking out in song and dance in public places started showing up on YouTube.
But the flash mob craze has recently taken a dangerous turn, with a recent trend of "flash robs" showing up across the country.
The National Retail Federation reports that 10 percent of retailers surveyed in July have reported flash robs at their stores. With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, many fear that number could spike.
Mob Mentality Amuck
At one 7-Eleven store in Maryland, dozens of young people removed items from store shelves and walked out without paying for them.
Flash rob incidents have also been reported in cities across the country, including Chicago, Milwaukee, and Dallas, Texas.
In Philadelphia, there have been several cases of aggressive and even violent flash mobs.
At the Macy's department store in Centre City district, a group of 150 teens rushed into the store. Once inside, they knocked customers to the floor and over turned store displays.
Safety Tips for Retailers:
Maintain low levels of cash in the store.
Monitor social network sites for indications that groups will be descending on a store.
Instruct workers to alert managers when they see unusually large gatherings of people inside or directly outside store.
Read more flash mob safety tips.
Philadelphia Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross said many of the groups become violent as the mob mentality takes over.
"We've had issues where people were assaulted who were merely minding their own business, sitting at sidewalk cafes, walking down the street," he told CBN News.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter made headlines in August when he blasted kids involved with flash mob crimes.
Nutter condemned the violent flash mobs during a service at his own church, Mount Carmel Baptist Church in West Philadelphia.
"To our young people, if you want black folks, if you want white folks, Latinos, Asians or anyone else to respect you and not be afraid when you walk down the street, then leave the innocent people who are walking down the street minding their own d__ business, leave them alone," he told the congregation.
The mayor also imposed a strict citywide curfew for anyone under the age of 18.
"I think it shocked the kids a little bit, at first a little bit. Some of whom, who, either professed they didn't know about it or genuinely didn't know about it, soon found that they were going to be taken into custody for it. And they were," Deputy Commissioner Ross explained.
"And as a result. I think it's helped us immensely. I think the messaging has gotten out," he added.
Pastor Alyn Waller, with Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, agreed with the mayor's tough stance on the flash mob crimes.
"I think that his words were strong, his words were part of the answer," he explained.
A Spiritual Issue
Waller said he believes the other part of the solution is found in the faith community.
"At the end of the day, it is a spiritual issue and the mayor, any mayor is not the boss of the spiritual stuff of the city," he told CBN News.
Pastor Waller said a big part of the problem is that many young people are angry for a lot of reasons.
Those reasons include the "deplorable conditions that they're having to live with in their families, in their schools in the street and this is an out growth of that," he said.
Authorities say social media sites like Twitter and Facebook played a role in organizing many of the flash mob scenarios.
That also happened when mobs took to the streets in England after a demonstration over a police shooting turned violent. Angry youth ransacked stores and torched cards and buildings.
"People who want to use it negatively do so, and you have seen instances where people are using these tools for criminal activity," Lee Brenner, with the millennial generation organization Hypervocal.com, told CBN News.
This summer, rapper Machine Gun Kelly was arrested after a flash mob he organized online got out of hand at a Cleveland, Ohio, mall.
Brenner's organization also offers training to police and other organizations on how to use social networking tools to their advantage.
"Cracking down on this is a challenge for police or officials that are trying to find these people before it happens ideally," he said.
"But I think what police and organizations that are working with these young people need to be is be aware that these tools exist and be cognizant of how they work," he said.
"It's very difficult. Some of those sites are created in such a way in which you have to be a friend to even get involved in it," Ross said. "So we've tried to do things, disguise ourselves to get into some of those sites."
Earlier this year, officials in Cleveland approved a measure to make it illegal to use social media to organize a violent and disorderly flash mob.
But the mayor vetoed the legislation after the American Civil Liberties Union said it would be unconstitutional. The city council is considering new legislation to combat the problem.
Staying Out of Trouble
Pastor Waller's church is addressing the growing problem by reaching at-risk kids through sports.
"Primarily we reach out to kids through athletics," Waller said.
His church has several football teams, where kids of all ages from the community make up the teams.
He said when kids are busy with football they don't have time for getting into trouble, including participating in flash mob crimes.
Kids who play for the church football teams said the game helps keep them focused on the right track.
"It keeps me out of trouble because it eliminates me being in bad situations around my neighborhood and where I shouldn't be at the wrong time cause anything could happen," Khalil Williams said. "When I'm here, I know I'm in a safe environment."
"It keeps me from hanging around the wrong people and doing the right stuff," D'Andre Swift said.
Teammate Greg Stanfield is thankful for the program, too. He was at football practice when a deadly shooting happened in his neighborhood.
"One of us would have been in the crossfire. It was just crazy," he told CBN News.
Winning Kids' Hearts
Coach Darren Swift said the church football team offers kids something secular teams don't.
"We're ministry first. It's not about the X's and O's -- it's not about the wins and losses," Swift said.
"We try to have strict guidelines. The children have to learn Bible verses every week," he explained. "If you mess up in school you cannot play. We hold you to a higher standard because we know its hard out here."
Their example is why police officials in Philadelphia told CBN News that it's imperative for the city to team with the faith community.
"We always look to partner with any community-based group, faith-based group," Ross said. "It's going to make things a lot easier for us and everybody living here."
Pastor Waller said the faith leaders must be committed to ministering love and healing to young people involved with crime, flash robs, or otherwise. He said the Bible commands it.
"They're hungry. That's what all this is about. The violence. They're just hungry," he said.
"They're eating right now trash And that's the word to us," he added. "Let's go feed them, let's go help them. And do it by any means necessary."*******