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Unfortunately for mothers, suspects in flash mob case will be made example

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



I was struck by what Tonia Rush said after her son, Dvonte Sykes, was arrested and charged with robbing a Thai man in a violent “flash mob.”

Rush said she believed her son’s $250,000 bail would have been lower if the crimes were on the South or West sides.

“If it’s black-on-black crime, nobody cares,” she said.

Obviously, somebody cares.

But Rush makes an unpleasant point. If this kind of violent behavior had occurred in a predominantly black neighborhood, it wouldn’t have even made the nightly news.

But everybody’s talking about the “flash mobs.”

That’s because tourists and residents in the city’s wealthiest ZIP codes are getting a taste of what residents in poorer areas have lived with for years.

Thus far, five men — none of them black — have been beaten and robbed of their iPhones, iPods, cell phones and wallets in flash-mob attacks.

As far as I can tell, all of the participants in the attacks were black. Unfortunately, the black community has long had to deal with roving mobs of black youth.

Expensive gym shoes and brand-name gear used to be the desired booty.

And while Mag Mile merchants were recently hit by mobs of thieves, that’s not new either.

In some areas, rowdy groups of kids on their way to school would bum-rush small gas-station convenience stores and snatch up chips, candy and gum before rushing for the doors.

Many store owners tried to stop the mayhem by allowing only two students at a time into their stores.

Today, wayward teens are snatching electronic equipment right out of an unsuspecting person’s hand. Shameful.

Still, Rush’s point has merit.

Had these mob attacks taken place on the South Side, I not only believe that the bails would have been lower, but also that the crimes would not have been taken seriously enough.

In 2002, I complained that Chicago police handled a mob attack on a Kenwood Academy senior like it was a schoolyard scuffle.

Anthony Adams had been brutally beaten in a YMCA parking lot by a group led by a classmate. His mother, Rita Adams, was so frustrated that police refused to upgrade the charges that she called me.

“This student had time to think about it and gather his friends to go out and beat my son up,” she said at the time. “No one intervened. This coincides with all this mob activity that has been taking place.”

What is driving these attacks is lost in the uproar.

Although each of the teens arrested in last weekend’s mob attacks made a bad decision, they don’t appear to be bad teens. None of these teens had a criminal record.

Obviously, there is no excuse for beating up people and taking their stuff. But as they say, idle hands are the devil’s playthings, and there are too many idle black teenage males. These teens couldn’t get a job if they tried given the high unemployment rate. Free organized sports and other recreational activities are also in short supply.

Unfortunately for the mothers, their sons will likely be made examples.

This level of violence will never be tolerated in the Loop, or on Rush Street or Division Street or the Magnificent Mile or the Gold Coast.

That is not solely because a lot of wealthy white folks live downtown. It’s because any place tourists spend money is sacred ground.

This is the kind of negative publicity that creates a political environment resulting in decent teenagers paying a heavy price for being foolish.

Parents of gullible teens — and that’s all teens — should stress how quickly a poor decision can turn into a life-altering moment.

That is the lesson of the Derrion Albert tragedy. As you may recall Albert was beaten to death during a mob fight. I don’t believe anyone set out to commit murder. But Albert is dead and five teens will be in prison for decades.

Knowing what happened in the Albert case should have been enough to stop these mob attacks.



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