Michael Nutter Makes Center City Feel Safer

But will his plan to combat flash mobs actually work?

Center City was crawling with cops on Friday night. I first noticed them at 5 p.m. as I walked down 15th Street from City Hall. Two officers were stationed at the corner of 15th and Chestnut and as I walked a few more blocks, I saw three more. Later that evening, as I walked home to the Art Museum area from Bella Vista at 10:30 p.m., most every corner had at least one police officer and every few moments,  bicycle patrols passed me.

If I didn’t know it was precautionary, I would’ve been terrified of what was about the happen. Since June 25, when my friends were violently attacked by a large group of teenagers in this summer’s first flash mob, I have been uneasy traveling in the city after dark. For the first time in about six weeks, I felt safe walking home alone.

The increased downtown police presence, as well as Michael Nutter’s newly-enforced curfew for teenagers, is the first step in the mayor’s plan to crack down on flash mobs.

On Saturday night, the mayor joined with Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison, Town Watch Integrated Services Director Anthony Murphy, top police officers, community activists and kids, to stroll down 15th Street—the site of last weekend’s flash mob—in a grand statement about his intolerance for the recent violence. On Sunday, he spoke to the congregation at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, imploring parents to talk to their children about the “serious stuff,” calling the recent attacks “idiotic” and “stupid.”

Michael Nutter’s stance on flash mobs is clear: The violence needs to stop.

However, the first step in his plan does not seem as straightforward: Setting curfews at 10 p.m. and midnight may be reasonable on paper, but in execution, they miss the mark. Both of this summer’s riot occurred well before 10 p.m.

Further details on the mayor’s strategy are scheduled to be released today [UPDATE: Read details of the mayor’s plan here.]. I hope the plan includes continued police presence around Philadelphia—not just in Center City, but in neighborhoods, too. I hope it details reasonable ways to reprimand the kids who are part of the mob, whether they’ve physically beaten someone or not. I hope it finds a way to stop violence before it escalates. But most importantly, I hope I can continue to feel safe walking home alone.