Chicago's flash mobs gear up for summer chaos

Chicago's flash mobs gear up for summer chaos

Chicago : IL : USA | Jun 10, 2012 at 10:56 AM PDT
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Five teens arrested in Chicago black mob attacks

Roving bands of black teenagers and young men are creating havoc, again, in Chicago's ritzy downtown streets and neighborhoods. They are called “flash mobs,” and first appeared a couple of years ago. Groups numbering from between three to 20-plus enter upscale clothing shops or specialty grocery stores en masse and hurriedly go from aisle to aisle emptying racks and shelves of clothing, food and drinks – or anything, everything else within reach. After making their “selections,” they, again en masse, rush out of the store and into the streets. They do not bother to conceal their faces from the obvious and all-seeing security cameras, figuring, I suppose, that there is “safety in numbers." How will anyone viewing the cameras' tapes distinguish any one person from the next? They all look alike, don't they?

Other similarly constituted groups, perhaps composed of some of the selfsame guys, ramp up this madness by using a sort of mass-mugging technique aimed at unsuspecting, touristy-looking, lone individuals or couples -- almost exclusively white. They speed-walk up to or otherwise bum-rush a person and may or may not demand money, phones, or laptops before striking them with or without a weapon. They then rifle through pockets or snatch purses and wallets. Then, in a flash, they're gone.

As reported at, Chicago police are stepping up their efforts to identify and arrest these perpetrators. It's an uphill battle, though, because the crimes are begun and completed so quickly as to make “prevention” almost impossible. Police may also be in denial as they would have us believe that these crimes are “seasonal,” a frightening summer ritual brought on by the warm weather and Chicago's many crowded lakefront summer festivals.

Although flash mob activity does intensify during the summer, as a lifelong resident of Chicago who works smack dab in the middle of the targeted area, I can attest that these crimes are committed regularly, routinely, throughout the year. Fortunately, I have not personally been accosted, but I have seen these guys on the buses, subways, and streets.

There are some interesting political dynamics at work here:

As stated, these groups are almost exclusively black. This is President Obama's, who is, as we are incessantly reminded, America's "first black President," adopted hometown. His former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is Chicago's first Jewish mayor. (A serious, just missed attempt was made in 1983 to elect a Jewish Republican, Bernie "Before It's Too Late" Epton, over a black Democrat, Harold Washington. Eighty percent of Chicago's white electorate, which had stood solidly in the Democratic Party column since the 1950's, voted, as many publicly stated, not so much for the Republican as for "the white guy." But black Chicago was having none of it, and voted for Harold Washington as though their very lives depended on it). But, I digress...

The “flash mob” phenomenon is occurring in addition to the run-of-the-mill, gang-related, drug-driven, violent crimes which have almost become routine in Chicago's south and west side black ghettoes. Areas that were once considered “nice” middle class neighborhoods are now veritable war zones. Kids have been shot walking to school, in school, walking home from school. Folks are being carjacked at gas stations, stop lights and stop signs. Bold and brazen daylight robberies of barber and beauty shops occur almost like clockwork. People no longer sit on their porches or stoops to wile away the long, hot summer nights for fear of being victimized by random (and not so random) drive- and walk-by shootings.

As word about these conditions spreads across the nation, it cannot help but hurt the President's standing among staunch law-and-order types. That would be mainly your “conservative” Republican types, of course. But they already hate him anyway. It's the President's black "base" that may begin to waiver in their heretofore rock solid support for him, as many of them must now bury children or grandchildren as a result of rampant, suffocating crime. Most black Chicagoans voted for Emanuel and against a highly qualified black woman (former U.S. Senator Carol Mosely Braun) specifically because of Emanuel's connection to the President. Emanuel vowed repeatedly during the campaign to stamp out crime in general and gang violence in particular. Again, black Chicagoans expect more from Mayor Emanuel because he, unlike any previous, potential, or incumbent mayor in the entire country, can pick up the phone and get the Commander-in-Chief involved.

Okay, sure....perhaps a large majority of black people are “liberal” in terms of social issues (for what should be obvious reasons, right?). But it may surprise one to learn that that same majority and more are “conservative” in their approach to crime. In other words, this crime thing may be the real deal breaker. A not-to-be-ignored number of black people in Chicago and elsewhere are still upset about the president's avowed support for gay marriage. His continuing refusal to “target” black-specific problems and issues with the same zeal that he has displayed in addressing the gay community's, the Hispanic community's, the Jewish community's, and women's issues is not helping, either.

These roving bands of out of control teens may be adding another nail to the president's electoral coffin. We'll see.

If you like to write about U.S. politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.

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British Prime Minister David Cameron walks with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Chicago
British Prime Minister David Cameron walks with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Chicago
Herbert Dyer, Jr. is based in Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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