Flash mob attacks: Rising concern over black teen involvement
From Milwaukee to Philadelphia to Chicago, officials are enforcing curfews and requiring chaperones for teens, after several flash mob attacks allegedly involving black youths.
(Page 2 of 3)
Philadelphia "is taking the flash mobs seriously, particularly the troubling racial dynamic that makes whites most vulnerable to the attacks," writes Eugene Kane, a columnist for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, who was visiting Philadelphia when the Wisconsin State Fair attack happened.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
On Friday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) ordered extra state troopers to the fair in Milwaukee after a group of witnesses reported that dozens, perhaps hundreds, of black teenagers began fighting with one another Thursday night on the midway, then began punching and kicking white people outside the fairgrounds, including pulling them out of cars and off motorcycles. Teenagers at the fair, which closes Aug. 14, now must be accompanied by adults at night.
One police officer characterized the Thursday incident as a "mob beating" in which several police officers were also hurt, but Milwaukee detectives continue to investigate the attacks and have not released a motive. Several Milwaukee news outlets, however, painted a more troubling picture: "Witness accounts claim everything from dozens to hundreds of young black people beating white people as they left the state fair Thursday night," noted WTMJ-4, the local NBC News affiliate. “It looked like they were just going after white guys, white people,” festival-goer Norb Roffers told Newsradio 620.
Some city leaders quickly noted the racial aspects of the melee at the fair.
"Sadly, what transpired near State Fair Park ... is only the most recent mob riot spawned by a culture of violence that has been brewing in Milwaukee for some time," said city Aldermen Joe Dudzik and Bob Donovan, who are both white, in a joint statement on Friday. "And let’s face it, it also has much to do with a deteriorating African-American culture in our city."
Some black city leaders said that hate crime prosecutions for the perpetrators should be on the table. "Hate crime enforcement must take place: Attacking anyone based on their ethnicity or color means a racial hate crime should be an additional" charge, said Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines, who is black, on Saturday.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who was severely beaten at the state fair two years ago in what was deemed a nonracial altercation, skirted a question from a reporter about whether he believed the incident had racial roots. But he said, "This is not random, this is calculated; these are young people who are trying to create havoc." Mr. Barrett also said the mob may have been organized through digital social media platforms.
If not an outright trend, organized mobs of mostly black teens who target whites are catching notice of police – and are raising uncomfortable issues in cities like Milwaukee, one of the most racially segregated in the nation.