Philadelphia's mayor, fed up with throngs of young people running through the city and terrorizing citizens, has taken to the pulpit to slam the "stupid, ignorant, and dumb actions" that might have both parents and their teens sitting behind bars.
Mayor Michael A. Nutter, speaking from the pulpit Sunday at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in west Philadelphia, condemned the recent flash mob incident in which a group of about 20 to 40 youth beat and robbed people in the streets.
"You've damaged yourself, you've damaged another person, you've damaged your peers and, quite honestly, you've damaged your own race," Nutter said, insisting he was sharing what was on his heart.
The mayor, who is black, spoke before a predominantly black congregation. He claimed that he was expressing what others in the African-American community felt but were not willing to say.
He not only directed his words to Philadelphia's teens, but called out negligent parents as well.
"Parents who neglect their children, who don't know where they are or who they are with... you're gonna find yourself spending quality time with your kids in jail together."
Turning to the subject of absent fathers, some of whom he called "ATMs" and "sperm donors," the mayor said, "You're not a father just because you have a kid, or two, or three."
"A father is a person who is around, participating in a child's life. A father has to provide instruction to a young boy on how to become a good man... A father also has to be a good role model to help a young girl become a strong woman," the Philadelphia mayor said.
His remarks were welcomed by church congregants, and by groups such as Project 21, a network of black conservatives connected to The National Center for Public Policy Research.
Deneen Borelli, a Fellow with Project 21, applauded Mayor Nutter for "doing what Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, President Obama and the Congressional Black Caucus have thus far failed to do."
Some critics, however, say Mayor Nutter unfairly targeted the African-American community and has reduced its members to a stereotype, since not all flash mob incidents involve black youth.
Nutter applauded young people who do not partake in such behavior. He closed out his remarks Sunday by encouraging Philadelphia teens to "stay in school, graduate from high school, [and] go on to college so you can make something of yourself and be a good citizen here in this city."
The mayor's remarks were in response to the July 29 incident in which two men were beaten and one of them robbed. Police have since arrested three teens and one 11-year-old.
That incident came a month after a mob of about 100 young people committed similar actions against pedestrians.
As a result of the latest attacks, Mayor Nutter issued curfew changes and called on police officers to increase street patrols.
“We will be prosecuting these young criminals to the fullest extent of the law," he said in a statement this week. "There is no excuse for what they did, and they have brought great shame upon themselves and their families."
Violent flash mob incidents are not unique to Philadelphia, as officials in cities such as Las Vegas and Chicago have reported crimes committed by large groups of unruly teens.