Wednesday, June 1, 2011

5 Thoughts About The "Black Flash Mob Epidemic" in Chicago



Between a recent Drudge Report round-up of crime incidents, a wave of violence in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend, and the suspicious closing of a Chicago beach, some internet commenters have concluded that  a. a significant number of black Americans nationwide are conspiring on social media to commit crimes and b. Chicago is falling apart at the seams.

After reading through the comments on the Second City Cop blog (which I recommend but don't always agree with), here are my own thoughts:

1. "Black flash mobs" are real enough for the Chicago police chief to announce that he'll address the issue:
“Philadelphia has a great plan on it that I’m looking at right now, actually. It has to do with having the resources deployed and breaking them [up] immediately before they get too far and monitoring some of the social media that they use.” 
The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that shoplifting arrests of juveniles have jumped in the police district that includes Michigan Avenue — even as retail theft arrests as a whole have fallen slightly.
2. If the flash mobs are really the result of a cross-country, social media and text message-driven, black crime conspiracy, or even one just based in Chicago, then it shouldn't be that hard to track. After all, gang members have Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace accounts, too. Not everyone is smart enough to cover their tracks or not brag about breaking the law for the entire internet to see.

3. If Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times can get an anonymous quote from a gang member about Chicago Bulls player Derrick Rose's effect on the community he grew up in, and if Steve Edwards and Richard Steele of NPR-affiliated WBEZ can get commentary about police-community relations from a "gang leader," then surely some Chicago journalist can get a gang member to talk on the record about Chicago beach gang activity, and whether social media fueled this or any other recent crime involving a group of black teenagers.

4. This should go without saying, but not every black Chicagoan has been a lawbreaker or gang member, and not every white Chicagoan has been law-abiding or anti-gang. After all, white gangs have existed in Chicago, and even if most of them faded away, at least a couple of them were significant enough to inspire the play/movie Grease.

...and no, I'm not saying that Pink Ladies slumber parties are the same as South Side drive-by shootings - the point is that groups of bored city neighborhood kids form gangs, get in fights, and cause trouble when they have nothing better to do and want to have some fun.

5. On a similar note, please try to have some nuance when talking about issues related to these subjects.

Behind every black person labelled "ghetto trash" or worse for their behavior, there are several other people in that person's neighborhood who obey the law, want to live in a safe community, and try to both stop and deal with the consequences of gang violence in black communities.

Unfortunately those are the perspectives I see missing from the online discussions I've read.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

As to your closing comment, I have worked with those very people from the black community who do the 9 to 5 thing and really want better lives in their communities. But for each one of them there is a drug funded gang banger offering a quick buck to the youth for no real work and Uncle Sam doing the same simply for breathing. This is a two generation long freight train that ain't stoppin' anytime soon.

Jason said...

Yeah, therein lies the struggle. I have a broader post about crime and social media I'll put up later this weekend, but I feel like I've said all a young white guy raised in the suburbs can about this particular subject.

PhoebeK10 said...

Thank you for posting this. My response to all the anonymous commenters posting about a flash mob occurring on Oak Street Beach is the "real" reason why the beach was shut down...I keep asking them--show me the proof! I just spent the last few hours scouring the internet, using a variety of search terms (which is how I found your blog post) looking for ANY visual, or even legitimate news source, evidence that this occurred. I have come up with nothing. Thanks again for your perspective, white boy from the suburbs. ;-)

Jason said...

I did search Twitter and YouTube, and the only North Ave. Beach-related violence footage I could find was this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqPt30QmjJg

Anonymous said...

Too many people are eager to make excuses for people like these acting like savages. Blocking traffic, randomly attacking people, coordinated shoplifting. It is not the fault of social injustice. We have handed the country over to the black people through Affirmative Action, welfare, and Obama. Free money, preferential hiring, and protection from any scrutiny of their behavior, all because of "white guilt". Enough is enough. Things are tough all over, and it's time for everybody to take responsibility for their own actions. It's not my fault that none of these people have fathers, and it's not my fault that some lazy redneck didn't want to pick his own cotton 200 years ago. Start acting like human beings and conform to society.

Jason said...

If you can take time out of your day to complain about "the black people" on somebody's blog, you can take time out of your day to mentor a kid from a bad neighborhood who could use the kind of guidance and broadened perspective of the world that would actually convince them that they can do bigger and better things than fool around with their friends at other peoples' expense.

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