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Are You Ready Series: Flash Mobs

Flash mobs are an ever-growing phenomenon in our country. Learn when they typically strike, how to avoid becoming a victim and how to fight back.

Flash mobs are an ever-growing phenomenon in our country. We have all seen the stories and are familiar with the hordes of angry teen-led flash mobs ravaging stores and stealing from people on the streets. Many believe these mob participants are disadvantaged minorities whose sole purpose is to wreck havoc. That said, many of these mass-muggings have turned extremely violent.

Although mob attacks typically occur in more densely populated areas, especially in the summertime when tourists are present, who’s to say this growing epidemic will not trickle into smaller towns?

Why Do They Attack?

Many ask why a mob made up of primarily teenage youth attack. At first it seemed that these mob attacks targeted tourists, but the more they occurred, they continues to increase in violence. Large metropolitan areas, such as Chicago, Detroit, and New York City, seem to bear the brunt of these senseless crimes. In one of these recent attacks,  a 34-year-old Chicago man was beaten and robbed by a group of 15-20 teenagers.

These hoodlums know there is power in numbers, and they are using it to their advantage. Mob attacks have been known to be announced via text message or through social media sites where the word will get out more quickly. To combat this, police officers are monitoring social network sites attempting to stop the mobs before they strike.  However, due to the spontaneity of this type of crime, police officers are finding it very difficult to be proactive.

Could the economy be to blame? Some people believe so. Columnist, Mary Mitchell believes this is more about a breakdown of civility rather than a race issue. She believes this breakdown can spread like a disease. As long as there are so many teens that are not engaged in productive activities, no one is immune from the impact of that disease.In 2012, fewer than three in 10 American teenagers held summer jobs, which set the stage to make a bad situation even worse. As it is, too many teens have nowhere to go and nothing to do. These teens have no home training, and their parents and guardians allow them to hang out at festivals, concerts, and public areas unsupervised.

Understanding Mob Behavior

When watching video footage of these mob attacks, you see can plainly see many of the delinquents smiling and laughing as if this were some sort of a game. Perhaps they know they will get some sort of media attention, which will only further escalate these mob-type attacks. To further understand this phenomenon, scientists at the University of Leeds have researched and believe they have found the source of why humans flock like sheep and birds.  In an article regarding this subject, they indicate that we are merely subconsciously following a minority of individuals.

Researchers discovered that it takes a minority of just 5 percent to influence a crowd’s direction – and that the other 95 percent follow without realizing it… We’ve all been in situations where we get swept along by the “crowd,” says Professor Krause.  “But what’s interesting about this research is that our participants ended up making a consensus decision despite the fact that they weren’t allowed to talk or gesture to one another.  In most cases the participants didn’t realize they were being led by others.”

Don’t be a victim of a mob attack:

  •  Above all, remember who you are dealing with. For the most part the participants of these mobs are urban delinquents whose only goal is to steal and cause violence. Understand who they are and be ready to speak their language.
  • Always be on the lookout. Operational security is making yourself aware of your surrounding areas. When you’re walking on the streets, your sole focus should be on getting from point A to point B.
  • Don’t advertise what you have . If you’re a tourist walking around with expensive jewelry on and flashing a fancy camera and cell phone, you are making yourself a target.
  • Be aware of diversionary tactics. Oftentimes, one assailant will create a diversion by asking the victim for the time or spare change, allowing the rest of the mob to swoop in for an attack.
  • If someone begins speaking to you and you feel threatened, be loud. Draw lots of attention to yourself so others around you see the situation.
  • Carry a weapon and know how to use it.

If you find yourself near a mob-like situation:

  • Try and evade the situation as fast as possible.
  • If they are trying to attack you, don’t be polite. If they’re trying to rob you, throw whatever it is they want in the opposite direction and run – making as much noise as possible.
  • If you must respond to violence with violence, make an example.  Strike out at the leader in as graphic and vicious a manner as possible in hopes of deterring the other attackers. Strive to make the injury you inflict visually appalling. Spit, scratch, bite.
  • If you can, make a citizen’s arrest.

In a time when police stations are overwhelmed with civil issues, violent mob attacks are becoming  more of a prevalent issue in this country. Relying solely on the police to deal with this issue is not the answer.

Citizens are taking matters into their own hands and banding together to create teams to patrol the streets. They stay in contact with one another through their cell phones and try to go unnoticed. In Chicago alone, the Guardian Angels are taking steps to safeguard neighborhoods, schools and cyberspace from bullying, gangs, and violence. They have even created education programs helping the youth get off the streets. We should all take notice of this band of citizens taking matters into their own hands in an effort to make their world a safer place.


This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on March 9th, 2013