When the first stories about flash mobs first came out, they seemed harmless enough, just people suddenly breaking into dance, singing or making a statement. The latest stories about flash mobs seem to have taken a more sinister angle. The recent story about the Maryland flash mob that robbed a 7-Eleven store in less than a minute caught my eye. There have also been a few other stories about random beatings and other robberies. The mayor of Philadelphia recently announced a youth curfew in response to flash mobs in the city that resulted in store owner beatings. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to conjure up how a flash mob can rapidly turn into a riot.
Think about the Maryland 7-Eleven situation for a moment. What if you happened to be shopping at that store the exact minute those characters walked in and started grabbing items belligerently and running off without paying? In this case they did not threaten anyone, but in a similar situation, anything can push things over the edge.
In order to be prepared for anything, it’s best to think ahead:
- Wherever you are, even if nothing is going on, know where is the nearest exit and envision your quickest path out that door.
- Pay attention to your surroundings and look for cues on how things are developing.
- If you notice odd things are starting to happen, avoid drawing attention to yourself and start moving away from the action. If you are with your kids, quickly steer everyone away from the mob’s path.
- Do not try to stop the mob: this could be dangerous to your life and well-being.
- Find a safe place AWAY from the action before attempting to whip our your cell phone to report the event.
- I do not advocate violence, but if you are truly being threatened with physical harm, then use your best judgement on how you might evade (run away) or defend yourself. Consider pepper spray or some other way to protect yourself.
I hope none of us ever find ourselves in the middle of one. Think about it – what would you do?
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