Philly Responds to Flash Mob with More Youth Repression

Thousands of people flooded the streets. The police made numerous arrests for disorderly conduct, property damage, theft, and even arson. Local hospitals reported a slew of injuries.

These events occurred after the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. The city took it in stride. There was no public outcry, no crackdown on Phillies fans, no call to prohibit future baseball games. Riding the wave of euphoria, the public largely accepted these crimes as collateral damage. After all, the Series was good for the sports franchise, good for city tourism, and good for city pride.

On March 20th of this year, a similar event took place. Thousands of teenagers converged on South Street in a flash mob. Several injuries and incidents of vandalism occurred. The city’s reaction, however, was very different. The local media published images and video of unruly and destructive African American youth. Officials painted a picture of an epidemic of Black teenagers terrorizing the innocent people of the city. The violence that occurred provided a pretense for perpetuating a longstanding racial stereotype of the threat of out-of-control Black youth.

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