Police contain flash mob on South Street

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thousands of young people swarmed South Street Saturday night, in what police are calling the third flash mob incident in recent months.

South Street was the picture of tranquility Sunday morning. However, last night, the first beautiful night on the first day of spring, there was wholesale chaos. Police had to pull in extra troops from all over town to prevent another large-scale flash mob fiasco.

Philadelphia police, tipped off by some alert and responsible parents, thwarted a potential flash mob riot on South Street Saturday night. Thousands of teens, lured by twitter messaging, descended about 9:00 p.m. looking to pull off another night of flash mob hooliganism.

Molly O'Neill of Palmyra, new jersey described what she witnessed: "There was a crowd of people all running... on both sides of the street and in the street. Not really listening to the cops, who were trying to control everyone. And everyone was angry and yelling."

Police assembled a show of force in time to keep it under control. But they had to call in reinforcements to do it. There were fights among the rogue elements and several arrests.

By midnight, police had prevailed to the relief of many residents.

"I was worried a little bit about what was going on in the street," said South Street resident Michelle Gonzalez. "A little bit of vandalism. I was home alone and just a little worried that we were going to have an issue at the front door, you know?"

Businesses on South Street locked their doors, trying to keep their legitimate customers safe.

Local resident Larry Levin explains, "They had to lock their doors because their patrons were afraid to leave... [Police] need to be walking, a constant presence up and down the street - moving these people along. And then, in the neighborhoods too, so we don't have a repeat of what happened last year where [looters] hijacked cars, they jumped on cars, they ripped down trees."

Last night there were three arrests - two of which were teenagers. Commissioner Ramsey this morning is said to be livid - promising to send a longer line of police to South Street next weekend to assure law and order.

Mobs of teens have caused disruptions in Center City three times in the last three months.

In the last incident earlier this month, police made 28 arrests.

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