Standing on Michigan Avenue, a sight that has been targeted by violent flash mobs in recent months, Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill that would crack down on those that use social media to perpetrate organized mob violence.
“We don’t want flash mobs harming anyone, anywhere, but especially where many people come from other states, other countries,” Quinn said. “We want to make sure we protect other people.”
The bill allows for tougher penalties against people who use social media or other forms of electronic communication to incite organized mob violence. Violators can now face a maximum prison sentences of six years, which is double the previous amount.
The legislation arrives in response to several high-profile incidents in which large groups of teenagers used social media to organize flash mobs and cause disturbances along Michigan Avenue.
Representative Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, believes the flash mobs may be gang-related but said the longer prison sentences could act as a deterrent.
“If you get people to come downtown to attack somebody who posted a picture on Facebook, you will serve real time,” Mitchell said. “I think that’s going to start changing the message on the street.”
State Senator Kwame Raoul, D-13th District, said the legislation is a necessary step in a society that is becoming increasingly connected.
“The thing about social media, it makes things easier to communicate. Which can be a good thing if you use it positively but it can be a negative thing if otherwise used.”