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Andrew Huff / June 8, 2011 12:23 AM

I don't doubt the attacks last weekend were real, but the media furor over them seems a bit sensational. If anything, I'm a little worried that all the attention will lead to copycat attacks.

PMan / June 8, 2011 7:12 AM

I was down at North Ave. Beach last friday and the atmosphere was ominous compared to past years. Groups of youth in matching colors and gang-type clothing; some acting in intimidating ways (walking across our volleyball court rather than around).

I think its an issue for the police. I know that some policing just pushes crime elsewhere, but the central city is an important economic engine for all of Chicago. Tourists won't go downtown if the it's not safe. Tourists mean jobs and tax dollars.

I'd love to solve the larger socio-economic problems that encourage this type of behavior, but right now I just want to feel safe when I go downtown.

Mike / June 8, 2011 9:21 AM

If anything this has been under-reported. The only thing "sensational" is the social network/flashmob angle. This was happening in Rogers Park and Edgewater years ago. And Chicago and State has been bad for years. I'm glad the media is finally reporting this, which has put pressure on the city to do something.

Jim Reedy / June 8, 2011 9:54 AM

I can't say I trust our local media's ability or willingness to put these crimes in perspective. Is this truly a huge problem -- and I'd think any amount of random mob violence is a problem -- or is it overblown? I have no idea and I don't feel confident the news coverage will accurately inform me.

Feels like a Boy Who Cried Wolf situation to me. Is this another overhyped threat or is the wolf actually here this time?

LaShawn Williams / June 8, 2011 9:59 AM

Wow--all of you guys have made very valid points--I agree with some of what all of you have said. I guess we'll all have to keep our eyes & ears open on all of this...

Janet / June 8, 2011 10:20 AM

As someone who was a crime victim a few years ago, yes it has me a little scared.

However, it's silly to live our lives in fear because of a few isolated attacks. It's not something we, as individuals, have any control over and it should not keep us from enjoying our city.

Erica / June 8, 2011 10:45 AM

So, my issue about this is that it's totally misusing the term Flash Mob, which is actually a positive term used by all sorts of causes/charities/groups to get fun attention. And the fact that so much of the dialog seems to be attacking text messaging and social media use.

What I'm hearing in this forum(for your measured and smart comments) is that there are gangs committing crimes. Does Chicago have gang violence? Yes. Is it a problem? Hell yes. Does it really have anything to do with "mobs" or social media? I kind of doubt it.

Let's focus on the real issue of gang violence and keeping our teenagers off the streets and quit trying to make it seem like something the internet invented.

Etihad Eidos / June 8, 2011 12:21 PM

Flash mobs are young men without fathers looking for manhood. It's a shame.

WAJ / June 8, 2011 12:49 PM

Lets not be naive and think that social media would never be used for nefarious purposes. If it is being used to faciliate criminal behavior, the same tools should be able to help police round up offenders (private network communication + timestamped GPS location stored in mobile phone = prosecutable evidence)

I drove to a Streeterville restaurant on Friday evening and the groups of "youths" were out. Many seemed to be normal kids and not causing any trouble, but many others were menacing and looking to start up with others. The concern is justified.

BethB / June 8, 2011 1:07 PM

We live in a state that has just cut millions of dollars from social services, a country that is experiencing a jobless recovery, and a city under considerable economic distress.
Violence is nothing new, group violence by young men is nothing new, frustrations and anger are inherent in our situation. What's new is it happening in rich, white neighborhoods, and it is really sad that that's what it takes to get folks to start paying attention. When this happened in other communities, folks just ignored it, or accepted it as status-quo, it was never front page news or a part of a larger, social conversation.

bob / June 8, 2011 3:48 PM

beth b. raises a good point. gangs of young guys messing around, robbing people, causing trouble is nothing new if you live in certain neighborhoods. in fact it's a daily occurrence. now that those kids are coming to more prosperous neighborhoods more often, where the ipads and ipods are plentiful, now there's more attention being paid. too bad the poor folk in the poorer neighborhoods didn't get this much attention when they got robbed.

Spook / June 8, 2011 7:45 PM

Guess these youths have finally learning that there is no money in there own communities and that they should go where the money is. The problem is that have not been able to make the transition from pack to solitary predator. Once they learn this, look for Black on Black crime to decline some what. Ahhh things are gonna be interesting. Change we wanted, change we got.

Berserker / June 8, 2011 9:38 PM

I love it! Social services as the modern day Danegeld!

Let us pay them in Apple products and tax credits and they will leave us alone until the warm weather returns next year.

Dennis Fritz / June 9, 2011 9:00 AM

The fact is, attacks like this have been going on for a long, long time. However, in most cases, both the attackers and victims were young men of color. So long as that remained the case, it wasn't considered newsworthy. Now that affluent white people (and Japanese tourists) are being targeted, it is suddenly a major crisis. Don't get me wrong--these attacks are criminal and ned to be stopped. But the dominant theory--that this is some brand new upsurge of anti-white racism--doesn't really wash.

LDAT / June 9, 2011 1:01 PM

The fact is the city will turn to sh*t if you can’t protect the people who pay the bills. So yes, it’s a big deal and yes it’s a bigger deal than if it happened in Englewood. There are plenty of examples of what happens to cities that can’t protect taxpayers.

annie / June 9, 2011 2:26 PM

It is simple. These are hate crimes, it has way more to do with actual violence than any amount of money they will get for the things they are stealing. The theft is just a bonus.

Cletus Warhol / June 9, 2011 2:27 PM

It seems that this would be the perfect opportunity to finally get some use out of all those big-brotherish cameras that have been installed in the downtown and lakefront areas over the past several years. Unless they are only supposed to be used to track anti-war protests, of course ;-)

Lola Hennessey / June 9, 2011 8:08 PM

I agree with those who complain about the term "flash mob" being used. Richard Roeper is right, these are wildings. Diminishing them because they happen to people with means is ridiculous. The media is constantly focused on crime in other neighborhoods and in fact has downplayed (until recently) attacks that happen in the downtown area for fear of disturbing tourism. But for those of us old enough to remember what the downtown area was like at night in the 1980s and earlier, we're having flashbacks while watching this violence. We don't want to go back to that.

BethB / June 9, 2011 10:14 PM

"There are plenty of examples of what happens to cities that can’t protect taxpayers." I'm sorry, but you must not understand much about municipal revenues if you think poor communities don't pay taxes.
I know it isn't easy to sit with racial privilege, but the responses to this thread have been truly disheartening. People are being killed, 6 just this past Monday (the most so far this year) while our police force is working overtime to protect iPods in Streeterville.

Elizabeth / June 9, 2011 11:43 PM

I think that this is very definitely a big problem. It is happening other places. In Philadelphia on South street and at the Macy's near city hall, in Tuscon, AZ at a convenience store. A Dunkin Donuts in Manhattan, a clothing store in Washington DC. It is naive to believe that youth are not using social media to organize what they do, whethr it is this or anything else. All youth are technologically savvy nowadays, and sites like Facebook and twitter make it very easy to do these things spontaneously. They were talking of numbers close to7000, in Philly. That wouldn't be possible without social networking.the first step to combatting the violence is to acknowledge that it's happening and to formulate a plan. While I agree that this behavior tarnishes the reputation of the term "flash mob", I'm afraid that how we feel about it's use may be irrelevant. It's the nature of words to take on added meaning that helps to contextualize specific nuances of terms. What it means has changed.

Elizabeth / June 9, 2011 11:52 PM

It strikes me that this really shouldn't be about race. Violence perpetrated by anyone against anyone shouldn't be tolerated. It is up to those within a community to shoulder an equal share of the burden in making that happen. And when I say community I mean all of Chicgos law abiding citizens should view themselves as one community. These youth are making some seriously bad choices, and I can't help feeling that while our community bears responsibility for sustaining unfair conditions that help create this unrest (in all areas of the community)
ultimately the young people should be held responsible for their actions wherever they choose to perform them.

M / June 10, 2011 12:42 AM

It strikes me that this really shouldn't be about race.

Ha!

Sorry, for me (in Chicago), it's all about the thugged out black guy(s). If it's 1:00 a.m. and black dudes dressed like thugs are approaching, I cross the street. If they're nice guys and it hurts their feelings, sorry fellas. Stop dressing like fucking thugs. I have been environmentally conditioned. If this appalls you, tell me how many guns you've had stuck in your face.

15 years in Chicago. The people who've robbed me, killed someone I knew, screamed and shouted on the el, threw their trash all over the place, ruined my neighborhood, shitted on everything they came into contact with ... black dudes.

If you say they don't set off your spidey sense, you're either lying, stupid, new here, or an angel.

ac / June 10, 2011 9:03 AM

This is not a race issue, it's a money issue. The state and federal governments keep trying to balance their budgets by slashing funding for programs and services for the poor. Defund schools, after-school programs, job training, libraries, addiction counseling, mental health services, arts/music/theater programs, etc. and THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS. Tax dollars that are "saved" by cutting education and social services will be spent on police and prisons.

Communities and people need resources to function properly. So you can blame the "thugs" all you want, but what is your solution, especially considering the unemployment rate for teens is about 25%? We all know what these kids SHOULD be doing with their time, but where are the programs to keep them occupied, educated, inspired? You could lock up all the kids this summer, but what will prevent this from happening next summer? This is a long-term problem that needs a long-term solution.

LaShawn Williams / June 10, 2011 9:26 AM

To BethB: (((((APPLAUSE)))))

WAJ / June 10, 2011 9:33 AM

Isn't it such a demeaning and racist thing to say "without government money, minorities fall back into their default mode of criminal activity"?

Soft bigotry of low expectations...

I know its not going to jive with the common (and demonstrably failed) narrative, but if you want to reduce that 25% unemployment rate for teens, then get rid of the minimum wage. Businesses will hire new employees when their labor returns a net positive value to the company. If these poor kids are just gov't handouts away from larcenous behavior, then their value to an actual business is less than the minimum wage.

vise77 / June 10, 2011 9:38 AM

"Defund schools, after-school programs, job training, libraries, addiction counseling, mental health services, arts/music/theater programs, etc. and THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS. Tax dollars that are "saved" by cutting education and social services will be spent on police and prisons."

Well, yeah, I get you, and generally agree, but, respectfully, I think you miss the main reason behind this culture of violence: Many--not all, but many--of the parents of these thugs just suck, and should never have been parents in the first place. I mean, I grew up pretty damn poor--we are talking govt. cheese, no AC in the summer (I grew up in a much hotter place than this), crime in my neighborhood (not like Englewood, to be fair, but still pretty sleazy)--and yet I managed not to want to rob people.

"People are being killed, 6 just this past Monday (the most so far this year) while our police force is working overtime to protect iPods in Streeterville.":

Yes, you are right, to a point: We need to put even more resources--divert more resources--into such higher crime areas. That said, you are assuming that cops are working overtime to protect the toys of yuppies (and robbery is about than just toys; it's about being safe from physical harm, too) and not working overtime in some worse areas of the city. And this notion that people who work hard to pay for such toys-and trust me, I don't like all those toys--should not get some protection from robbery is a bit odd.

I think the media is, to some extent, doing sensational coverage, but, to be fair, people are afraid. It happens. Even though many stats show a decline in crime in Chicago (and it's hard to know what to believe, given that the CPD and City Hall don't release anything close to full crime data), the feeling of fear in this city has crept upward in recent years, at least according to someone like me, who's lived hear since the bad old days of the late 1980s.

LDAT / June 10, 2011 9:42 AM

“I'm sorry, but you must not understand much about municipal revenues if you think poor communities don't pay taxes.”
I’m sorry but your living in a fantasy world if you think Chicago can support police, fire, education, etc without a middle class tax base and the middle class, including minorities, doesn’t live in places where you get beaten and robbed by gangs of kids. What you don’t understand is not protecting iPods will make things much much worse for people in the very communities you want to help.

ac / June 10, 2011 10:48 AM

"Isn't it such a demeaning and racist thing to say "without government money, minorities fall back into their default mode of criminal activity"?"

That is not at all what I'm saying.

Mucky Fingers / June 10, 2011 11:12 AM

I think this goes to show how spoiled we are in the West. People in the middle east and northern Africa are using Twitter and Facebook to oust facist dictators and/or take advantage of new economic freedoms, and here they're using it to rob newsstands.

Also, some of the bleeding-heart sound bites on display here are a bit naive...

where are the programs to keep them occupied, educated, inspired? You could lock up all the kids this summer, but what will prevent this from happening next summer? This is a long-term problem that needs a long-term solution.

What these kids needs are active parents, not government-sponsored hobbies. Love is more important than toys. This isn't a money or race issue, it's a PARENT issue. These are kids who come from lousy parents.

ac / June 10, 2011 12:04 PM

Mucky, basic education and health care infrastructure are not "government-sponsored hobbies." They are requirements for all communities.

Lots of rich kids have shitty parents, but they also have other resources.

WAJ / June 10, 2011 1:25 PM

AC - actually, you are contstructing a rather linear relationship between gov't funded programs and the criminal instinct of this group of kids.

Ex. "Tax dollars that are "saved" by cutting education and social services will be spent on police and prisons" i.e. every dollar that is not funding gov't programs for these kids will necessitate the same dollar to be spent preventing their criminal behvior and/or incarcerating them for criminal behavior. The point is that criminal behavior for these kids is their default state.

Ex. "Lots of rich kids have shitty parents, but they also have other resources." i.e. criminality is a function of available and applied resources. Yet, we can easily find instances of kids who do not have available resources and have "shitty" parents who do not resort to criminal behavior.

annie / June 10, 2011 3:15 PM

OK, explain how a stolen Ipod is going to fix any one of these kids financial woes? And there is a big difference btwn stealing things and stealing things from someone after they have been beaten up. It's HATE CRIME!!!

annie / June 10, 2011 3:15 PM

OK, explain how a stolen Ipod is going to fix any one of these kids financial woes? And there is a big difference btwn stealing things and stealing things from someone after they have been beaten up. It's HATE CRIME!!!

Pete / June 10, 2011 3:33 PM

It's nothing new, but now that it's happening around Michigan Avenue the media is finally paying attention. And I'm also saddened by the corruption of the term "flash mob" which originally had such nice connotations.

Spook / June 10, 2011 11:24 PM

Ahhhhhhhhh, and here comes America. Always first in the lunch line,( for now) yet still, three grades behind.

"BETWEEN me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it. They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel to be a problem? they say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word. The problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.""

W.E.B. Du Bois The Souls of Black Folk. 1903.

madachose / June 11, 2011 10:15 AM

Young men running around unsupervised because they do not have or know who their fathers are is not due to any lacking of social service but poor or lack of the basics of parenting. The solution is a mandatory military draft.

Cheryl / June 12, 2011 2:12 PM

Just how to you make people who shouldn't be parents suddenly wake up and start parenting their teenaged kids? How do you keep people who shouldn't have kids from having them?

This whole thing makes me very sad.

Jared K / June 12, 2011 3:48 PM

"Cheryl / June 12, 2011 2:12 PM
Just how to you make people who shouldn't be parents suddenly wake up and start parenting their teenaged kids? How do you keep people who shouldn't have kids from having them?

This whole thing makes me very sad."


That's it, right there. As a society, if we could figure out something with regards to this question, we might stand a chance of doing something more than wasting potential through hand outs or lock ups.

Most poor people shouldn't exist, because they shouldn't have been born in the first place. Bringing a child into the world when you have no idea of how to nurture it is despicable. Of course most everyone agrees on that. What no one wants to address realistically though is how do we create incentives to keep people from reproducing indiscriminately. Poor people are going to have children they can't support through honest means unless there are reasons for them not to. No amount of wishful thinking or platitudes is going to change this fact.

WAJ / June 13, 2011 10:33 AM

Millions of families in both India and China have seen their standard of living increase in the last decade as a result of their societies moving away from centrally planned economies. The current leadership in the US is dedicated on moving towards a centrally planned economy. What do you think will be the result for the poorest of our citizens?

Do you think the parents ability to raise their kids is going to improve with the structural unemployment that comes along with central planning and increased energy costs?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703818204576206662079202844.html?mod=WSJ_newsreel_opinion

I hope you're paying attention, because this was all predictable.

Carrie / June 13, 2011 1:11 PM

@Jared K- there are plenty of middle-class and wealthy people who don't know how to parent and depend on someone else to raise and nurture their children. Abuse and bad parenting spans all cultures and income brackets. Lumping most poor people into a "should not exist" bucket is one of the worst things I've ever read. I hope I'm just missing your sarcasm.

Jared K / June 13, 2011 2:36 PM

Carrie: No sarcasm intended. I'm sorry I offended your naive, myopic worldview.

Just answer me this. Do parents' "right" to reproduce trump a child's right to live free from the misery of poverty? A child who doesn't exist knows no pain, while a child born to thoughtless parents will LIKELY experience daily misery. And that's the reality.

You can cherrypick miserable failures from the ranks of the wealthy or fantastic parents from the ranks of the poor all you want, but numbers do not lie. The reality is that in the world we have, it makes sense to not have children that you can't afford and don't have the knowledge, time or attention to actually nurture physically and emotionally. Yes, there are parents who fail their children despite having every advantage. That doesn't change the fact that the vast majority do not.

With the right incentives, fertility rates in many countries have dropped, resulting in, generally, better lives for everyone. ALREADY fewer poor people exist than would otherwise, and I doubt those who have benefited from this trend would disagree with what I'm asserting here. No one, except maybe someone like you, is mourning the non-existence of people who would have been virtually condemned to a living death, mired in destitution.

LaShawn Williams / June 14, 2011 9:23 AM

Jared, your comment suggests that YOU are the one who is actually mired in a myopic view—ask any Chgo police officer assigned to predominately white neighborhoods in the city--ask ANY DCFS staffer who is assigned to cases in Chgo’s affluent suburbs--hell, ask the NANNIES in said affluent suburbs, and you’ll get the TRUTH. “Bad” parenting and ruffians have NEVER been confined to ONE demographic, darlin’--I mean, really.

Dennis Fritz / June 14, 2011 9:30 AM

I would bet real money the people who are so quick to label these attacks "hate crimes" are the same people who, upon hearing about a young black male shot to death by police, say, "let's not make a big racial thing out of this."

Carrie / June 14, 2011 12:44 PM

Jared, I don't mourn those who never existed. I just think it's really sad that you think all poor people are not being nurtured, or loved and are completely unhappy. Do you think they walk around every day thinking about how sad and unhappy they are and oh wow, anyone who is middle-class or above must be so incredibly happy? I can pretty much guarantee that doesn't happen and that all middle-class and above families are not 100% entirely happy. Seems like you like to equate money with happiness. Maybe you have a lot of it and that makes you happy, however, most people find that there is more to life than money.

Just answer me this. Do parents' "right" to reproduce trump a child's right to live free from the misery of poverty- Just because wealthy people choose to have a child does not mean that it will not live a life of misery. I've unfortunately worked with people who have a day nanny and night nurse set up for their kids before they're even born. Must be miserable knowing that your parents only had you for status. Why, they just couldn't be the ONLY people without designer children!! *gasp*

What it comes down to (in my book and you don't have to agree)- misery spans all social and income brackets. Misery whether you're rich or poor is still misery. Money does not make unhappiness any easier to deal with. Perhaps in an ideal world McDonalds workers would make as much as Bill Gates- now that would help eliminate poverty and the misery that you think all poor people live with on a daily basis.

Cheryl / June 14, 2011 1:16 PM

I agree with Jared that people who can't afford babies shouldn't be having babies. I just don't see how knowing that solves the problems we have. As far as equating money with happiness, there is a line below which yes, money means happiness. Or at least a full stomach and a place to live and a decent education.

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