Thursday, July 28, 2011

Violent Flash Mobs Come to the West Coast?

The phenomenon of flash mobs has been popping up in cities around the country this summer. In cities such as Chicago and Washington, DC, social networking technologies have been used to organize large, "spontaneous" public gatherings. While some of these so-called flash mobs are peaceful, gathering for dancing or political protest, others have committed crimes, including shoplifting, muggings, and random attacks. Well, last night appears to have brought us the first example of the phenomenon on the West Coast, as thousands of people showed up unexpectedly at Hollywood and Highland in Los Angeles last night.

The flash mob coincided with the Hollywood premiere, at Grauman's Chinese Theater, of "Electric Daisy Carnival Experience", a documentary about the Electric Daisy Carnival techno music festival. The premiere, which was to feature DJs, acrobats and a red carpet, as well as an after-party at the Supper Club hosted by DJ Kaskade, was invitation-only. It's still not clear what happened, but Kaskade himself may have contributed to the problem, as he told his 90,000 Twitter followers yesterday afternoon that he was going to a "block party" at the theater. Either way, many, many people showed up, and LAPD riot police were deployed; bottles and taunts were thrown at the cops, a police cruiser was damaged, and several fights broke out in the crowd. Ultimately, batons and rubber bullets were used to drive the crowd back, and two were arrested on felony vandalism charges. A Tweet from DJ Kaskade at 7:30 described the scene as follows: "News choppers overhead. The man trying to shut us down…. This is crazy." This was followed shortly by this message: "EVERYONE NEEDS TO GO HOME NOW! I DON'T WANT THIS TO REFLECT BADLY ON EDM OR WHAT WE ARE ABOUT. BE RESPECTFUL AND CHILL OUT!!!"

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