Flash Mob Warning: Parents Face Trouble, FBI Involved, Earlier Curfew Possible

The city issued three warnings today on "flash mobs," the social media driven gatherings of young people that have turned violent in Center City in recent weeks. 

  • Mayor Nutter, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and District Attorney Seth Williams warned that parents of youths arrested during the sudden riots will face court action as well.  They said the state's laws on juvenile justice allow for a parent to be required to complete punishments such as community services with a child found to be delinquent.  Failure to do that could lead to contempt of court charges.
  • Nutter said the special agent in charge of the local FBI office has offered to use federal powers to pursue people who use telecommunication devices to draw people to the riots.  "Depending on what's being communicated, the person risks possible violation of federal law," Nutter said of the FBI offer to help. "They are taking these incidents very seriously."
  • Nutter said if the problem persist he will issue an executive order to create an earlier curfew for people under the age of 17 until City Council can make that rule permanent with new legislation.

Nutter, Ramsey and Williams repeatedly urged parents to keep track of their children and to monitor how they are communicating on social media web sites, cell phones and e-mail.  "We urge parents to take control of your kids," Ramsey said. "It is not the government's job to raise your children."

Nutter noted that many of the incidents happened before the curfew starts but some happened after recreation centers and after-school programs were closed. "I'm not exactly sure what the city is supposed to do at 10 p.m. for teenagers," Nutter said. "I ran for mayor. I didn't run for mother. I can't take care of everbody's child."

The trio spoke while surrounded by community and business leaders, with about 35 police officers serving as a back-drop.  Ramsey said additional police, including district officers, the Highway Patrol unit and undercover officers, will be deployed this weekend to respond to incidents.  He declined to comment when asked if the Police Department has information about incidents already being planned.