Cleveland looks to stop unruly flash mobs before they start

CLEVELAND - Cleveland City Council Wednesday night took action on a new law that would make it illegal to use social media to violate city ordinances or in other words use a flash mob to disrupt or cause chaos at an event.

"We have seen recent incidents in Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights where social media was purposely utilized to cause disruption and chaos at community events," said bill sponsor Councilman Zack Reed.

Reed cited the number of upcoming festivals in Hough, Glenville and the Feast of the Assumption in Little Italy in pushing the legislation. 

"These events are meant to showcase the good taking place across our city. We will not tolerate those who wish to disrupt these events through flash mob activity," he said.

In addition to charges that may apply like disorderly conduct, public intoxication or unlawful congregation, police could now charge those over 18 with the additional social media count. 

It would be a minor misdemeanor punishable by a $100 fine for the first offense, $250 for the second and up to $500 for a third. 

Co-sponsor Jeff Johnson says it may seem minor but it's a start.  "We don't want to come real hard, real fast," he said.  "The next step I'm advocating is expanding it to the juveniles."

To be clear Johnson pointed out they are not targeting flash mobs as a whole just those whose intent was to cause trouble.

"We want to keep the singing in the malls, we want to keep all the flash mobbing that is dancing or whatever you do that's positive but the negative use of it with the intent to disrupt and cause some injury or some type of damage that we're going to speak to," he said.

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