On Saturday evening, more than 500 teens took to Chicago streets in what police are calling "mob action." Apparently, this is the violent equivalent of the comparatively fun flash mobs that always seem to go viral, and as a result is hardly YouTube-worthy.
Among the disturbances, most of which occurred along Michigan Avenue and State Street, were several fights amongst the teens themselves, who also got busy bumping into people and even assaulting police officers. Separate incidents included a man being jumped and punched in the face, and a group of women being attacked and robbed after getting off the train.
By the end of the night, 28 teens had been arrested on charges ranging from battery and strong armed robbery to reckless conduct.
"I caution those parents if their child has been arrested — which numerous teenagers have been arrested tonight — that you need to think about your child," said community activist Andrew Holmes, who witnessed some of the action. "Just don't say the Chicago police picked on your child, when we were watching all the assault going on, especially by teen women."
In an attempt to combat the action, police were seen ushering the teenagers to the train stations and patrolling the areas long after the violence subsided.
It is believed that these events were planned on social media websites weeks in advance, as were past instances of "wilding" by teen mobs in the Chicago area. Most teens involved did not know each other prior to Saturday evening.
The city's problem with "mob action" seems to stretch back several years, with recent instances as close as four months ago and similar summer mob assaults occurring in June of 2011 and 2012. Many of these events involved weapons.
"I think it's horrible," said Chicago resident Doreen Cohen. "I don't understand why this keeps happening, I really don't."
Neither does the police department, it seems. Despite reworking of their mob violence response system last summer following similar crimes, the sheer number of people on the streets on Saturday night was too large for the police to handle efficiently.
People are also blaming the teens' parents.
"The parents need to be disciplining their children a lot more. That way, they wouldn't have come out into the streets like this, I think it's just absolutely ridiculous," said Derek Burns, another resident.
While disciplining teenagers is notably more difficult than disciplining younger children, parents would do well to try a little harder in ensuring their children's safety — though the closing of 54 Chicago schools isn't much help, either.
Whatever the case, and wherever the solution may lie, summer visitors to the city would do well to steer clear of more violent areas during the evening and nighttime, especially with young children in tow. These incidents have shown that no one is safe when teens come out in groups with the intent of harming others.
(But again, if you hear of a Chicago-area flash mob on Facebook or Twitter, feel free to participate. These are fun, nonviolent events!)
Watch the video below: