Mayor, police pledge action against rampaging mobs

Posted: March 23, 2010

WHAT'S the answer to the city's "flash mob" phenomenon?

Beef up cops on South Street on weekends and in Center City after school?

Earlier curfews?

Conflict resolution in schools?

Get parents to control their kids?

Monitor social networking Web sites?

With nearly everyone from the mayor, elected officials, SEPTA, school officials, merchants and civic groups weighing in after Saturday's incident, Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross yesterday said, "We are looking for a holistic approach."

"We will be announcing something shortly in terms of future steps to be taken," said Mayor Nutter. "What I'm most concerned about here is inappropriate behavior or any kind of violence or assaults.

"I want to strongly encourage our parents and guardians to please keep better track of their children, know where they are at all times, discourage negative inappropriate behavior that's only going to result in someone getting arrested," he added.

As officials sought solutions, more victims injured in Saturday's Twitter-inspired flash mob came forward. Possibly thousands of teens stampeded in waves down South Street until nearly midnight, running on top of cars, knocking down pedestrians, fighting and urinating on neighbors' property.

As police cleared South Street, young men fled to other streets in Center City.

In addition to a woman getting punched in the face about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, her boyfriend, John Kemp, 36, was struck a few times in the head at 15th and Kater streets. Kemp said he and his girlfriend plan to give police statements today.

About 11:20 p.m., at 15th and Market streets, police said, Deion Perkins, 19, was arrested after he and a group of juveniles allegedly beat an adult male near the Clothespin sculpture.

As an officer was putting Perkins into a police vehicle, the defendant turned around and allegedly punched the cop in the face. The two wrestled to the ground and Perkins ran off, but officers caught him nearby, police said.

Perkins was charged with aggravated assault of an officer and related offenses.

About 11:30 p.m., a young man entered the Bliss restaurant on Broad Street near Spruce and punched a diner in the head three times. The youth ran off.

In a fourth incident at 11:35 p.m., a 25-year-old Union League employee was walking to his car on Moravian Street near Broad, when he was jumped by 20 to 30 juveniles, who kicked him in the face and body. The victim was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital and treated for minor injuries. No arrests were made.

Three other arrests were made, including a 17-year-old on gun charges, a juvenile for obstructing traffic and an adult for disorderly conduct. No damage was reported.

In the last two flash mobs, Ross credited tipsters for alerting police, enabling them to respond immediately, and urged the public to call 9-1-1 if they suspected a flash mob might occur.

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