Students warned on dangers of flash mobs

Saying that “you don’t have the right to act the fool,” Everett Gillison, deputy mayor for public safety, sternly warned a group of high school students Wednesday about the dangers of flash mobs.

“Let’s not just run up and down the streets and cause a ruckus,” Gillison said at the Convention Center during a workshop for Philadelphia students interested in hospitality careers.

The students gathered for Hospitality Education Day, hosted by the Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress, the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association, and the Convention Center.

“If you don’t do it, it won’t start. We don’t need to have a society based on the negative.”

City officials have been addressing students, parents, and other groups about flash mobs since groups of young people used social networking sites and cell phones to gather and cause mayhem on South Street on March 20 and in Center City on March 3, Feb. 16, and Dec. 18.

In his talk Wednesday, Gillison added that the students had the power to influence friends not to form flash mobs.

“Your positive peer pressure will determine how we go forward as a city,” he said.

Appealing to the students’ interest in hospitality, Gillison added: “The industry you’re thinking of going into is a service industry. If people feel this is an unsafe city, they won’t come. And less business means less opportunity.”

Afterward, students considered Gillison’s remarks.

“Students nowadays act up to follow the crowd,” said Jaleesa Robinson, 18, a Feltonville resident who attends Dobbins High School. “We’ve got to act civilized.”

Huschai Severe, 16, a Northeast Philadelphia resident who attends George Washington High School, said simply: “Violence is not right. God wants peace.”

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