Philly Flash Mobs Not Solved With Curfews

Thursday, 18 Aug 2011 11:43 AM

By Chris Freind

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The televised images of violence and looting triggered a recurring thought in many people — this isn’t supposed to happen in our civilized cities.

No, we’re not just talking about London, but Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love,” where violent flash mobs have become frequent.

To deal with mobs, which keep residents barricaded in their homes and visitors away, Mayor Michael Nutter has instituted a citywide curfew.  Common sense tells us there will now be a drop in flash mobs, although violent incidents are still occurring just outside the targeted zones.

The problem is that the curfew seems to be the mayor’s only answer. Curfews won’t solve the underlying issues for why the uprisings are occurring. But since flash mobs have been plaguing the city since early 2010, the mayor has shown himself to be unable or unwilling to address the root causes.

So the situation only worsens.

Curfews are simply too expensive and resource-intensive to be maintained, and police become bogged down processing curfew violators instead of focusing on the real criminals prowling the city. And that is simply not the most effective use of our crime-fighting resources.

Curfews also create resentment among those affected, most of whom are law-abiding citizens. The majority are punished for the actions of a few.

Measures which are perceived to unfairly target people based on age, skin color, and gender only enflame tensions, not soothe them. And people take on the persona of that which they are accused of being.

Perhaps the focus should be on targeting actual crime, and concentrate on arresting actual criminals. If the police catch the bad guys, prosecutors gain convictions, and judges hand down tough sentences, we’d be light years ahead of where we are. You don’t solve a crime problem by making something a crime that is now not a crime.

So why do we do these things? Because they make good sound bites. The mayor wants us to believe that the curfew will make everything right, but we are really left with a city no safer in the long run.

So what does he suggest to solve the problem? That parents need to “get their act together” and to institute a “zero tolerance” for this type of behavior.

Too bad Michael Nutter doesn’t employ a zero-tolerance policy where it’s needed most: educational failure and businesses fleeing the city.

Crime doesn’t have to be a way of life, but often is because opportunities are lacking, both educationally and professionally. That’s where bold leadership comes in, the ability to reverse years of decline with real solutions.

Unfortunately, this Mayor is totally lacking in that category.

At the core is the horrendous educational system, which directly results in the dearth of hope for young people. Despite ample taxpayer funding, some schools are deathtraps and, incomprehensibly, many sport extremely low graduation rates.

Without basic skills, the prospects for a decent job are nonexistent, and the dream of a prosperous life becomes an illusion. Faith is lost, and criminal activity spikes.

School choice could turn things around. But that’s not happening, so another generation will be lost while  politicians continue their inane babble, accomplishing nothing. And speaking of competition, it’s no wonder why Philadelphia’s business competitiveness is dismal, since it is (cumulatively) the highest taxed city in the country.

It’s simple cause and effect. Businesses flee or refuse to relocate in the city. The resulting lack of opportunities in turn triggers despair and increased crime.

You wouldn’t treat a heart attack victim by giving him an aspirin, since that would only be treating a symptom. In Philadelphia, curfews and fairytale rhetoric have been sold as the “cure” but only accelerate the city’s deathspiral.

Whether its flash mobs, riots, subway attacks, or cops in the crosshairs, it’s clear that no one is off-limits.

Create opportunity, and you create stability. People with good jobs buy houses and have families, incentivizing them to keep their neighborhoods safe.

Ignore the problems, and you have a powder keg ready to explode. Anything less than real solutions will make flash mobs more than just a flash in the pan, but an unfortunate part of everyday American life.

An accredited member of the media, Chris Friend is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com








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