Urban Flash Mob Disrupts Philadelphia 4th of July Celebrations

Independence Day celebrations got out of hand late last night when an unruly crowd of urban youth converged on Center City.

For most people, it really was a great celebration. For others, the night ended very badly.

It was around midnight, south of City Hall on South Broad Street, when innocent bystanders got caught up in a spontaneous crowd.

It was another beautiful 4th of July on the Parkway, with a spectacular display of fireworks high above the Art Museum. First, The Roots took the stage, then The Goo Goo Dolls performed.

Throughout the day thousands came to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to celebrate our nation's freedom and the place where it all began. And when it ended, the cleanup got underway - crews went to work up and down the Parkway.

As the crowds cleared for the night, a chaotic scene erupted on South Broad Street, near City Hall. Viewer video, obtained exclusively by Action News, shows an unruly crowd of young people flooded into the streets. Police rushed to the scene.

Jay Ingersoll captured the home video. Jay explains to Action News, "We left the fireworks probably not even five minutes into [the show]... and we left and we walked down Chestnut Street. And we got to 15th and Chestnut and we heard 'Flash mob, flash mob, flash mob!'"

He said he saw fights breaking out, people getting punched as police moved in to try and make arrests.

Police insist this latest incident was not a flash mob. According to the definition police associate with a flash mob, it is a pre-organized event spread by young people using social networking sites, agreeing to meet some place and cause trouble. Whereas Sunday night's mob seemed to be "a spontaneous eruption of unruly behavior" from people who were leaving the July 4th festivities. Police say, so far there no indications that last night's events were preplanned in any way.

Flash mobs are something that police and prosecutors have worked very hard to crack down on. There were a couple of them along Market Street during the school year.
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