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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Looting Flash Mobs: Retail Theft or Race Riots?

     In the summers of 2011 and 2012, gangs of teenage black kids have invaded, for the purpose of retail theft, stores in downtown Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Norfolk, Virginia. (These are not the only cities where this has happened.) Groups of 20 or more males and females overwhelm any security a store might have in order to steal expensive merchandise--usually clothing--for resale. These mobs can be assembled, mobilized, and coordinated through social media networking.

     These gangs of retail thieves commit a brand of unlawful taking that falls between team shoplifting and robbery (taking by force). It's essentially looting, and reflects a group entitlement mentality as well as total disrespect for the rule of law. This form of urban anarchy should not be taken lightly. If it's not brought under control, this civil disorder will drive retailers and other businesses out of downtown America.

     In Chicago, Luke Cho, the owner of a Wicker Park clothing store, became alarmed at 6:40 PM on Saturday, August 14, 2012. Twenty or more black teenagers entered his place of business as a coordinated group. Mr. Cho knew what this meant, he was about to be looted by a flash mob.

     The gang moved purposefully toward the section of the story that housed the display of Nudie brand jeans. At $200 a pair, these jeans have been in demand since some rap singer was seen wearing them on TV. Mr. Cho, to keep a second wave of looters out of his store, locked the front door, and asked an employee to call 911.

     As the thieves scooped up armloads of jeans in front of alarmed store employees and customers, members of the second wave of looters, who were locked out of the store, banged angrily on the glass. Once the inside thieves had gathered up all the jeans they could carry, they moved toward the front of the establishment, stopping along the way to put other stolen items into their backpacks. After fumbling with the door, one of the looters figured how to unlock it. The door opened, the pack rushed onto the street, and dispersed with more than $3,000 worth of Mr. Cho's merchandise. By the time the first police officer arrived at the scene, it was all over.

     Mr. Cho, when he reviewed the store's surveillance tape, recognized several of the looters as previous shoplifters. He posted the video online, and asked the public to help identify as many thieves as possible. (Victims of flash mobs, aware that the police are indifferent to crimes like this, essentially have to conduct their own investigations.)

     Scott Paulson, a CBS news commentator, has written an article on the network's website about these retail marauders. Paulson criticized the media, police administrators, and politicians for not calling these mob heists what they really are--race riots. According to Mr. Paulson, "The Media, the politicians, and the bulk of the commentators on social issues need to quit being afraid of people like Rev. Al Sharpton." Pointing out that these mobs are comprised of black kids, and that their victims are white, Paulson writes: "If a story is about race, it must be reported as a racial story for the good of the people who could easily be subjected to the next flash mob attack....Protecting a community's image or a segment of society's image should not override the public's need to know and be protected."

     While Scott Paulson makes a valid point, I'm sure he realizes that because of political correctness, and the abject cowardice of politicians and people in the media, no one will treat these raids as race riots. And the police will shy away from these cases as well. Politicians, cops, and media hacks are afraid of race hustlers like Al Sharpton, and will never characterize these alarming acts of anarchy as race riots. (And in Chicago, if a business person publicly expresses a political opinion the mayor doesn't like, the dictator of that corrupt city might order a boycott, or impose municipal sanctions.)

     While we all pay the price for this form of cowardice and political correctness bordering on corruption, the true victims are store owners who try to make a living in urban America. I would imagine these merchants are not thanking President Obama and the government for building their businesses for them.     

     

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