I had to laugh when I saw the Agence France-Presse story about the “flash mob curfew” now in effect in my obscenely humid hometown:
The measure was the latest effort to secure a city famous as the site of the signing of the US Declaration of Independence and drafting of the US Constitution, but which has spent years trying to overcome violent crime.
The story has a written-from-a-distance feel, which probably means the writer has no idea how much more violent Philly was a few years ago (in terms of fatalities) or in the early 1980s, or in the early 1970s, when gangs fought throughout the city to expand their turf, and God help you if you walked past the wrong gang’s favorite streetcorner.
The reason Philly violence is getting special attention now is because the punks in the flash mobs have been beating up people in Center City and are therefore a threat to affluent residents, tourists, big spenders from the suburbs and, in general, the city’s somewhat improved national and international image.
The curfew is to send a message: If you guys want to maim or kill people, do so in your own neighborhoods, away from the well-off sections of town.
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It could also be the fact these attacks are Black-on-White hate crimes and the mayor doesn’t want Philly to be city that opens the door on the prevalence of such things and destroys the current racially biased model of only calling it a hate crime when a minority is the victim.
He may also be worried about citizen reprisals.