Flash Mobs Beware! Legislators Address Violent Incidents

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(CNN) — Illinois legislators weren’t thinking about harmless flash mobs, like countless renditions of the Harlem Shake or over-the-top marriage proposals, when crafting new legislation recently.

A bill which passed the state assembly on Friday and the state Senate earlier would allow judges to “impose an extended term sentence” when new-age “mob action” involves “electronic communication.”

Democratic state Rep. Christian Mitchell, sponsor of the legislation, said he expects it to act as a deterrent to those considering participating in a flash mob attack like several along Chicago’s prestigious and bustling Magnificent Mile, a popular downtown shopping area.

“The old corporate gang structure as we knew it is gone,” he told CNN. “In many cases you’re seeing Twitter, Facebook and other social media being used to organize.”

He said the law is an important step but allowed it “is addressing a symptom of a larger problem” which requires improving family and school life for young people.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has not said if he will sign the legislation into law.

Recent Magnificent Mile incidents dubbed as flash mobs include one which landed more than two dozen juveniles in jail on allegations they started fights, snatched purses and blocked traffic on a Saturday afternoon in April. In another incident, Mitchell said several teens were suspected of having tracked a young woman whose photo had spread on Twitter, then shot her in the leg.

Overall, authorities say crime is down in the city. The police department said crime in the first three months of this year was down 8% from the first quarter of 2012, and the murder rate in March was down 69% from the same month last year.