PHILADELPHIA – About 50 teenagers were arrested for violating a newly enforced curfew for minors aimed at cracking down on mobs of young people responsible for random attacks on people as well as property damage, police in Philadelphia said Saturday.
The arrests began about 9 p.m. Friday downtown and on South Street, a 10-block strip of bars, restaurants and stores on the edge of downtown that has long been a hangout for teens and 20-somethings, said police spokeswoman Officer Tanya Little.
Mayor Michael Nutter announced last week a curfew of 9 p.m. for those under 18 on Fridays and Saturdays downtown and in nearby University City, home to the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University.
A first arrest could mean a fine of $100 to $300 , and parents could be fined up to $500 for successive violations by their children. In other parts of the city, the curfew remains 10 p.m. for those under 13 and midnight for those under 18.
Other measures in the crackdown included increased enforcement, a campaign to get business leaders to register their security cameras with the police department and extended hours for about 20 youth centers in the city.
In one mob attack last month, a man ended up in the hospital with broken teeth and a wired jaw after a group of teenagers attacked him downtown. Hours later, a crowd of young people assaulted four other men. An 11-year-old boy was among the four young people arrested in the case.
Nutter took the pulpit of his own West Philadelphia church last weekend to call out teenagers involved in violent mobs that have left several people injured in recent weeks and said parents need to get more involved in their children's lives.
"You've damaged yourself, you've damaged another person, you've damaged your peers and, quite honestly, you've damaged your own race," said the mayor, who is black. He also called out absentee fathers and neglectful parents of teens involved in the attacks, many of whom are African-American.