NBC10.com - Nefertiti Jaquez
Hundreds of teenagers swarmed the heart of center city Tuesday, as fights broke out. More than a dozen people were arrested. NBC10's Nefertiti Jaquez talks to police and witnesses.
What began as a beautiful, summer-like day in Center City soon ended in chaos as a wild teen brawl brought back memories of violent attacks that plagued Philadelphia nearly two years ago.
Police were called to the scene of a gathering involving up to 200 teens on the 1600 block of Chestnut Street shortly before 4 p.m.
Two girls in the crowd began to fight and it soon escalated into a full-scale brawl, according to police. Drew Carballo, the manager of Del Frisco's, a Center City restaurant, says he witnessed the fight.
"Once the weather breaks it starts to break out," he said. "It's kind of a shame. So many families getting out of work want to shop around Chestnut Street. It's a busy street in general. When you have 200 kids running out of Wendy's it gets a little reckless."
NBC10.com spoke to the manager of the Wendy's on 15th and Chestnut. The manager denied that a fight took place inside the restaurant however.
The officers dispersed the crowd and broke up several fights, according to Philadelphia Police Captain Brian Korn. Officials say the group of teens also gathered at 16th and Walnut and 15th and Market.
During the commotion, investigators say some of the teens threw bottles at police officers. No officers were injured.
"There were about 200 kids throwing bottles," Carballo said. "The police were around. You can tell they were getting a little overwhelmed at first. But the Philadelphia Police are always great at breaking it up. But they definitely had their hands full for a good 30 minutes."
Mark McDonald, press secretary for Mayor Michael Nutter, says 14 teens were arrested -- 11 boys and three girls.
"They'll probably be charged with disorderly conduct," he said.
While many witnesses referred to the event as a flash mob on social media, McDonald dismissed those claims.
"There is no evidence that this was a flash mob," said McDonald. "I prefer not even to have the words in there because it's a little unfair."
In 2011, Mayor Nutter enforced a teen curfew law for the city in response to random flash mob attacks involving teens in Center City and University City.
Under the law, during the school year anyone 13 and under must be home before 8 p.m., 14 to 15-year-olds must be home before 9 and teens 16 and older by 10 p.m. While the law originally only included Center City and University City, it was modified to include all areas of the city. The curfew expands one hour for all teens during the summer.
When the curfew law was first enforced, Mayor Nutter scolded the parents of the teens involved in the flash mobs while speaking at his own church, Mount Carmel Baptist Church in West Philadelphia. During his speech, Nutter accused the teens of "damaging their own race." He also claimed that their parents had to be more involved in their lives and not just a "human ATM."
Mayor Nutter has not announced whether he plans on enforcing stricter curfew laws in light of Tuesday's incident. Philadelphia Police say however, they will be increasing their patrols in the city as the weather continues to get warmer.