Maybe there is something in Philadelphia's water, but teens in the American city have been participating in random acts of rampage since last year.
Philadelphia, Penn. - It was Tuesday afternoon in a posh area of Philadelphia, called Center City. The area is one the city has been redeveloping and is now an upscale neighbourhood featuring offices, luxury shopping and luxury condos that sell for up to $7 million. 150 teenagers gathered in the area and went on a rampage at rush hour, frightening shoppers in a Macy's store, as well as pedestrians on Market Street. State Governor Edward G. Rendell commented on the mob saying "It's bad, and we can't let it go on... Mayor Nutter gets it. Center City is the job engine; it's also the tax engine, and we've got to fight to keep it in good shape."
After the 'flash mob' was quelled, one teen was hospitalized for injuries and 14 youths were arrested. Some of the teens engaged in a snowball fight on City Hall grounds. An eye witness said 40 or 50 youths had rampaged through Macy's, stealing and destroying things. Macy's reported minor damage. The teens like to gather at a mall called The Gallery, which is where the teens were said to have been prior to the flash mob on Tuesday.
Random rampages have spontaneously sprung up in Philadelphia in May, June and December 2009. Some of the rampages have been violent, with teens attacking both people and property. Back in June, the police connected the teen rampages to one particular high school, however police say students from three different high schools had been identified in this week's mob event.
One opinion piece attributes the rampages to economic and social discrimination, saying that most of the kids who participate in these rampages are African American students who believe they have been racially targeted by store owners and police in Center City.
Philadelphia city councillors are asking the school board to place restrictions on the student's bus passes, so that the students are not allowed to travel after 4 pm. The passes are either provided free to students in need, or are subsidized. Councillor Frank DiCicco said"It gives people another reason not to come into the city. When an incident like this happens, we take one step forward and three or four steps backward. People are afraid, and I don't blame them."
There is now a heavy police presence in Center City.
Philadelphia has been characterized as one of the most violent cities in the United States.
Almost one out of every four people in Philadelphia is poor. "... Twenty-five percent of African Americans, 23 percent of Latinos, and 9 percent of whites live in poverty. Overall, 13 percent of the U.S. population is poor. In Philadelphia, it's closer to 25 percent."