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Violence experts say “Flash Mobs” are rare

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Philadelphia police are increasing their presence around the Gallery Mall after a violent mob of teenagers tore through the area yesterday. One youth violence expert says this incident, while scary, is not typical.

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Store owners in the Gallery say they were terrified when about 150 teens rushed through the mall, shoving and knocking down shoppers. Some worry the incident will scare away customers.

Philadelphia police say they arrested 16 youths from seven different high schools. The teens face charges ranging from disorderly conduct to assault.

Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel says they will not get off easy:

Bethel: Some of the kids thought they were going into some community service program. That has been pulled, and they are going to see a judge as to what causes their behavior. That will be a starting point. This is not going to be a game of tag; this is going to be a very aggressive plan to ensure that this is not going to happen again.

Dr. Joel Fein directs the Philadelphia Collaborative Violence Prevention Center. He says this kind of mob scene is attention-getting, but not common:

Fein: We don’t want to make it seem like this is the actual problem of youth violence. We’re actually not even sure that the children and youth who were involved were setting out to commit violence. We do know that in our city, on a daily basis, we do see children and youth fighting, sometimes to the point where they get to the hospital, or even killing each other, that is different from this kind of event which is a very large mob event.

Fein says his center is working with teens all over the city to teach them skills to avoid violent situations and behavior. He says the attention that this incident attracted could inspire copy cat incidents.

Police think the crowd may been brought together via social media.


  • Carol says:

    This is a very lukewarm article about a BIG problem. This is not the first incident. In a time when business people are counting on shoppers, this is scaring us away. I know that I am thinking twice about coming to this area. I like the Reading Terminal Market but I hate the Gallery because of what it has become. There is very little reason to shop there anyway. It is no longer a destination for people who loved Strawbridge’s and other shops from times gone by. I feel sorry for Macy’s. They are a valuable presence in the city and didn’t deserve this. Not to mention all the people in harm’s way. The Flower Show is coming up. Need I say more?

  • jc says:

    Why doesn’t the media show the perp’s faces?

    • tabitha says:

      Yes what they did was wrong, kids do dumb acts because they believe its funny when its not..but they didn’t attend to do any viloent acts because they only were just tryning to make chaos and that to them is fun. They should be punished but not severly.

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