Flash mobs have been all the rage ever since a man named Bill was credited with inventing the concept back in 2003. They started out as harmless pranks and minor nuisances, like when flash mob experts Improv Everywhere rallied a group of people identically dressed in a blue polo shirt and khakis to meet up at a Best Buy and stand around looking like employees.
But, like any good meme worth preserving, mankind found a way to make the harmless flash mob into something horrifying. Out with the adorable videos of high school teachers dancing to Village People songs, in with videos of people meeting up to steal stuff. And it gets worse than that.
Here are six shady flash mobs you don’t want to be a part of…
A Particularly Well Executed Depiction of Something Terrifying
Imagine for a moment that you’re standing on a busy street corner, waiting for a bus or train, perhaps, when suddenly everyone around you just collapses. No warning, no noticeable external causes, just instant collapse all around you. That would be pretty damn unnerving, right?
The mind moves fast when confronted with a pressure situation. The best case scenario here is that you’re going to spend a few minutes thinking 99.6% of the world has just died of some mystery disease that, somehow, you’re immune to. Great news, being alive and all, but your social circle is going to take a hit. That’s depressing, so you start thinking about all the people you’re going to miss, and you get really emotional and then finally you realize it was just a joke but by then you’re overcome with sadness and longing for your significant other and you rush home and make passionate love and then hello, unwanted pregnancy! Damn that.
Worst case scenario you take the death of everyone in your vicinity as an opportunity to rifle through their possessions, an act that is caught on video and promptly sent to authorities. Seriously, what kind of animal are you?
Either way, this is the kind of activity you want no part of.
The Inadvertent Kind
As long as people have been posting calls to organize in large groups on social networking sites, people have also been mistaking innocent party invites and for sale listings as a reason to descend on an unknowing victim and tear shit up.
Take the case of Elaan Brudno, for example. She posted a Craigslist ad over Memorial Day weekend with this enticing headline…
“EVERYTHING’S FREE!! Furniture! Clothes! Books! Toys! We’re giving it away, so come take it away!”
“Don’t mind if we do!”
And that’s exactly what people did. Brudno posted the ad with a listed start time of 8:00 am, but then revised it to 10:00 am with an addendum of “No early birds please!”. She then left the house and returned at 8:45 am to find that people described as “Garage Sailors,” a group of particularly avid garage sale enthusiasts, were already helping themselves to her belongings. And her roommate’s belongings (a roommate who also had two small children whose belongings were also pilfered). According to the story, things between the two roommates have become “a little awkward” due to the fact that Brudno failed to lock or even close the door to the home when she left after posting the ad, leaving it wide open to the hordes of sticky fingered Craigslist users who eventually showed up.
Approximately this awkward, if we had to guess
Brudno posted an ad a few days later asking people to return several items that weren’t intended to be given away. We’re confident that posting was just as big of a success as the first one.
The Kind That Happen Everywhere
Around the same time the above story about inadvertent Craigslist flash mob shenanigans was unfolding, Chicago police were dealing with a breakout of twelve different incidents of flash mob violence, some near the famous “Magnificent Mile” shopping district.
Things took a turn for the almost celebrity when a group organized near a train station platform to enjoy some good old fashioned strong arm robbery. The unfortunate victim of this last second meetup was Jesse Andersen, the 35-year-old brother of Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan.
Mellon Collie and the Finite Train Platform Strong Arm Robbery Victim
In another incident around the same time, Krzysztof Wilkowski, a 34-year-old Chicago man, was sitting on a bike on Michigan Avenue when he looked up and immediately thought “I’m about to get robbed, what do I do?” That’s a strange thought! Was he contemplating his possible reactions on the off chance that something might happen? Nope, he was staring in the face of 15-20 men who had already drilled him in the face with a baseball. And they weren’t coming to apologize. Wilkowski was dragged off his bike to Chicago Avenue, where he was beaten and robbed.
The Sexy Kind
Leave it to a Fox related channel to make a desperate connection between a trendy Internet meme and an otherwise boring crime to make a story sound more interesting than it is. Watching this video, you would think the crime being reported is some kind of massive influx of nefarious criminal types into the Victoria’s Secret at a mall in Washington DC. It’s a connection that’s backed up by…showing video of a different flash mob robbery? That doesn’t seem like good journalism, Fox!
What happened in this incident though, was just three men and three women showing up with bags and baby strollers and grabbing whatever they could take in 20 seconds. But there was this quote from DC police Lt. John Hedgecock…
“We have some information that they may be using some of the social media such as Facebook and Twitter to schedule an event if you will.”
That’s fine, but six people planning to meet at the mall and confirming it via Facebook doesn’t really sound like a flash mob to us. We’ve seen those creepy “Missed Connections” posts get a bigger response before. And yes, that was us with the winning smile and scent that smells of excellence standing behind you in line at Starbucks.
The Kind That Turn Your City Into a Police State
When people hear the term “flash mob” they generally picture a bunch of Macbook toting hipsters and bored soccer moms gyrating to a Hall & Oates record while crowds of iced latte enthusiasts look on in amused enjoyment. But what happens when you replace the adoring onlookers with terrified seniors and disabled people? Outright panic, that’s what.
This story from South Orange, NJ indicates just how jarring the site of throngs of people unexpectedly moving in unison is to someone who thrives on calm and order. Specifically, clients of South Orange’s JESPY House, which is not a home for award winning Jewish athletes, but rather an organization that helps disabled people live independently, called police after 400 youths packed the city for all sorts of flash mob action. It’s not really even specified if the flash mobs were of the violence, vandalism or vamping variety, but it doesn’t matter, because police rolled into action. Even though the seniors in the picture that accompanies the article look kind of happy. Maybe grew to look forward to the company of a pack of roving teens from time to time?
Anyway, after the complaints, a spokesman for the South Orange PD stated that the department was “looking to put cameras on the streets, mosquito sirens in police cars and additional officers on patrol Friday and Saturday nights.”
We don’t know what mosquito sirens are, but they sound New World Order-ish and mildy horrible. So please, keep your flash mobs restricted areas where the people who get sent into convulsion by loud noises and bright lights don’t live.
The Kind That Turn Into a Hate Crime
What happened on the opening night of this year’s Wisconsin State Fair is one of the most heinous examples of something that’s been taking place all across the country to the benefit of absolutely no one. In this case, a group of more than 100 youths gathered outside the fairground exit and attacked innocent fair goers as they tried to head home for the night. There was some indication that the attacks, carried out by a group of mostly black teens, were racially motivated.
One Iraq war veteran compared the scene to what he saw during war…
“That rated right up there with it. When I saw the amount of kids coming down the road, all I kept thinking was, ‘There’s not enough cops to handle this.’ There’s no way. It would have taken the National Guard to control the number of kids that were coming off the road. They were knocking people off their motorcycles.”
This story from a Wisconsin NBC affiliate includes numerous witness accounts of the horrors that took place, and none of them will do anything to help move race relations forward in this country. Except for maybe this…
“The mob of black teenagers involved in the beatings and damage outside of State Fair last night were not there for the MC Hammer concert. I attended that concert with three of my friends last night and the crowd was mostly white and adult.”
MC Hammer. Still not hurting ‘em. Even in 2011. Other than that, it was a pretty sad night.