Chicagoist's Top 11 for 2011: Don't Call Them Flash Mobs

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 30, 2011 4:40PM

Since when is a beach ever closed because of the heat? That was the question on the minds of many when that was the official reason for closing North Avenue Beach on Memorial Day. It wasn't until media obtained the 911 tapes a few weeks later that it was revealed there was some wilding going on, as well.

A week after North Avenue Beach was closed, Streeterville residents were on high alert after a weekend of assaults in the neighborhood. The large roving packs of youths responsible for the attacks fueled the narrative in the media that this was a "flash mob," While social media and today's smart phone technology did play a part in organizing the groups of young thugs, we still contend that these incidents weren't flash mobs, per se.

Once again, here is Wikipedia's definition of a flash mob:

"(A) group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment and/or satire. Flash mobs are organized via telecommunications, social media, or viral emails."

So World Pillow Fight Day qualifies. So does the world's saddest flash mob. So does the Bollywood dance routine flash mob.

These acts of violence were just that. So was the case of Scotty Strahan, who was arrested after video was posted showing him knocking out a homeless man on the platform of the Chicago Avenue Red Line subway station.

The mob violence in Streeterville became a hot story for a few weeks, mainly because of the location. It also gave groups like the Illinois State Rifle Association ammunition (pun intended) to further its lobbying for concealed carry laws, as if the threat of someone packing heat is a deterrent for crime.