Illinois House OKs Crackdown on Social Media ‘Flash Mobs'

The Illinois House has approved legislation that would impose tougher punishment on anyone convicted of using social media to plan or incite a mob attack.

The bill passed the Senate last month. The 102-6 House vote now sends the measure to Gov. Pat Quinn.

Lawmakers said the legislation is in response to recent incidents in Chicago in which groups of young people descended on Michigan Avenue and other locations to rob or attack people. Police say the suspects used text messaging and social media to organize and publicize such attacks.

In March 28 teens were arrested after dozens of groups showed up on Michigan Avenue and started fighting, bumping into pedestrians and causing chaos on the street. That same night a group of teens allegedly attacked a group of women on the Chicago Transit Authority's Red Line.

In February two people were injured and dozens were arrested at Ford City Mall on Chicago's Southwest Side after a large group of disruptive teens began running through the mall. Officials estimate more than 1,000 youths were at the mall for the appearance of teen music group Mindless Behavior when a group of 30 teens began fighting.

The bill would allow a judge to impose an extended sentence if someone used electronic communication in a mob action.

Rep. Christian Mitchell is a Chicago Democrat. He says the legislation will make communities throughout Illinois safer.

NBC Chicago/The Associated Press

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