PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Michael Nutter called out teenagers involved in violent mobs that have left several people injured in recent weeks and said parents need to get more involved in their children’s lives. Then he backed up his words with action – implementing a weekend curfew in two sections of the city.
Nutter took the pulpit Sunday at his own church, Mount Carmel Baptist Church, and condemned the acts of the marauding bands of youths.
“You’ve damaged yourself, you’ve damaged another person, you’ve damaged your peers and, quite honestly, you’ve damaged your own race,” Nutter said. “You damaged your own race.”
The mayor was then joined by a phalanx of law enforcement authorities at a noon press conference where he said the early curfew would go into effect in Center City and University city on Friday and Saturday nights. Anyone under age 18 must be off the street by 9 p.m. in those sections.
The mayor also indicated the city would keep 20 recreation centers open until 10 p.m. on those two nights.
The mayor, who is black, in his Sunday comments called out absentee fathers and neglectful parents of teens involved in the attacks, many of whom are African-American. He said parents need to be more involved and not just a “human ATM” dispensing cash but no discipline.
“That’s part of the problem in our community,” he said. “Let me speak plainer: That’s part of the problem in the black community … We have too many men making too many babies they don’t want to take care of and then we end up dealing with your children.”
Nutter said the city plans to increase legal sanctions for parents whose children participate in the attacks. He said that strict enforcement of the citywide curfew will continue and more programs at youth centers and help for parents will be offered.
In one mob attack last month, a man ended up in the hospital with broken teeth and a wired jaw after a group of teenagers attacked him downtown. Hours later, a crowd of young people assaulted four other men. An 11-year-old boy was among the four young people arrested in the case.
The mayor said the overwhelming majority the city’s young people were good but “there are some really bad ones,” he said.
“They’re lawless. They act with ignorance. They don’t care about anybody else, and their behavior is outrageous,” he said. “Well, we’re not going to tolerate that.”
Nutter preached to a congregation that largely shared his beliefs but said he hoped its members would spread his message citywide.
“He might be preaching to the choir,” said church member Carol Lee, 59, of Upper Darby, “but I hope his message gets out.”