On Oct. 21, nearly 200 minors gathered on North Broad Street for what they called a “Pearl Theater Meetup” on Instagram. The gathering quickly turned violent, and by the end of the night, several students — and a Philadelphia Police horse — were assaulted.
Temple Police arrested four minors that night, and seven reports were filed with TUPD: two robberies, two cases of harassment and three cases of aggravated assault.
This past weekend, both Temple and Philadelphia police presence increased on North Broad Street and on the side streets west of Broad, including Oxford Street to Montgomery Avenue, said Charlie Leone, the executive director of Campus Safety Services.
“There has been more of a police presence on Temple’s campus and more security guards by the doors to enter a building,” said Sheridan Milazzo, a junior tourism and hospitality management major. “I know there was the assaults on Friday on Broad Street, and I think they are trying to increase security for those reasons.”
“As the fall progresses, we shift to more police anyways,” Leone said. “It gets darker sooner.”
Leone added that SEPTA Transit Police monitored the subways this past weekend and gave TUPD a “heads up” if there were large groups of minors traveling northbound on the subway, whether or not they ended up on Main Campus.
“The majority of teens were just running around,” Leone said. “People have this vision that it was all 200 teens, but there were little pockets that gathered where people got hurt.”
He added that police would not be able to take action against bystanders because they weren’t involved in the crime.
Leone said the investigation into the violence on Oct. 21 is still underway, and through security footage from local businesses and residences, TUPD has been able to identify “a couple” more people that participated in the mob.
He added that arresting minors can be difficult, and local schools have been cooperating with TUPD’s investigation.
“We can’t scoop a bunch up and then take them in,” he said.
Police have to follow a very strict procedure when dealing with minors, Leone added, like parental notification and meeting requirements when holding them.
“You don’t want minors getting abused in any way, shape or form,” he said.
TUPD has received messages from nearly 100 families of students asking what happened that night, but have received no additional complaints from students who were injured but had not immediately reported it.
Leone added that in the community, residents have said that the mob on Friday scared them, and they felt it could have just as easily been their kids who were hurt instead of Temple students.
“We know there’s a need for more police presence in this city,” said Roz Walker, 53, who lives on Oxford Street near 29th. “What happened was something terrible. … The media doesn’t always report on the good things that happen in this neighborhood.”
“The city and politicians are all ready to cry out that what they’re doing is ‘for the kids,’ but I don’t see much going to the schools,” she said. “When you take things [like vocational programs] away, it’s going to get bad.”
“[The kids] are mad. There’s nothing in the community for them,” said Lekisha Robinson, who stood outside TLO Event Complex on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near Willington Street before performing in a charity show Saturday evening.
With her stood Ronald Vaughan, who was also waiting to perform in TLO.
“I really believe if you don’t give kids something to do, things like [the attacks] happen,” Vaughan said. “But with all the attention it’s getting, I don’t think it’s going to happen again.”
Robinson said she believes the attacks could have been prevented if there were more police, citing her background as an officer in the United States Air Force.
“A lot of that was lack of Temple security,” she said. “They’re supposed to be strolling by at least twice every hour, and if there are 200 kids, police should be all over that to break it up.”
Julie Christie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ChristieJules.
Francesca Furey and Kelly Brennan contributed reporting.