Local/State

Teens arrested in Center City flash mob

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Police have 22 teenagers in custody after being arrested for taking part in a violent flash mob.

Police say, at around 4:30 p.m., a mob of about 50 to 100 teens suddenly converged in the 1400 block of Chestnut Street when a fistfight broke out, and then the crowd began running towards 11th and Market and the Gallery where Warren Bloom was passing by.

"It was pretty chaotic because a lot of the business owners and people in the street were being suggested to get out of the way," Bloom said.

Police say the group of teens was on a rampage, dodging in and out of traffic and causing all sorts of havoc. Fortunately, city and SEPTA transit police have had a beefed up presence in the area since last month's flash mob incident and were able to move in quickly before the teens could move into the Gallery where they were believed headed.

"They never entered the Gallery, they never got that far, they didn't enter any other structures," Lt. Frank Vanore of the Philadelphia Police said.

Within minutes, police made almost two dozen arrests of teenagers involved in the melee.

One of the teens is being charged with assault after elbowing a highway patrol officer in the face.

Last month, about 150 teens from 8 area high schools converged at the Gallery and started a rampage in which a 14-year-old was injured. Police say they also ransacked the Macy's store across from City Hall.

Back in May, police say more than 100 young people converged on South Street and attacked and damaged several taxis, as well as ransacked a convenience store causing hundreds of dollars in damage. An elderly bicyclist was also severely beaten in the incident leading to the arrest of 21-year-old Stephen Lyde.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says they will take a zero tolerance posture with the teens involved and also sent a strong message to their parents.

"This is a breakdown of parents doing what they need to do, you got kids that think they can get away with whatever; they need to be responsible for their own behavior and if you got a kid that's out of control and you don't do anything to control them at all, as far as I'm concerned, you ought to be charged with something too," Ramsey said.

The 22 teens arrested are to be charged with disorderly conduct and possibly rioting and related offenses.

Additionally, Ramsey says beginning next week, the department will permanently assign more police officers to Center City in the wake of these incidents.

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philadelphia, pennsylvania, local/state, dann cuellar
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