back to article When flash mobs go bad

An open invitation on Facebook to hold a massive water fight in Leeds has resulted in thousands of pounds worth of damage to its prize winning public garden. Leeds City Council claims about 350 people with water pistols, buckets and water balloons trashed the Millennium Square garden on Bank Holiday Monday. The destructive …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    CCTV footage will be reviewed by police

    And where the hell were the police when said footage was being recorded?

    Ye olde local donut shoppe?

  2. Jeff

    CCTV footage will be reviewed by police

    And this story was only run yesterday:

  3. Jim
    Paris Hilton

    Well that's good news...

    for everyone involved.. Didn't the top cop just say CCTV was garbage? Reviewing garbage for mess making.. Sounds like a hoot.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Stop quick....

    ...people having fun and enjoying themselves, how can this be allowed, all of them should be arrested and jailed for 12 months, minimum.

    Just think, if people are happy the world could actually turn into a nicer place.

    The Horror!!!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Flash Mobs were once science fiction

    Now the my-space tards are making them come true.


  6. DrFlupMD

    It's Leeds

    This is Leeds, they have Bradford in it, are you in the little bit surprised -

    It's like a Mad Max fall of civilization.

    The word hellhole doesn't do it justice

    Maybe HolyHead works.

    We should just gather the contents of Leeds and farm them for organs.

    Fire because

    Burn them

    Burn them all.

  7. radian

    bad influence

    It's about time Face Book was banned. Everyone knows it’s a hub for organised social unrest. What with that and GTA4, its only our police state that’s holding things together.

    *The above is a joke. I feel I should mention this before I get flamed*

  8. Henry Wertz Gold badge


    Yeah, from the footage I saw in the youtube clip at least, it didn't look like there was any bad behavior whatsoever -- just people playing around with waterguns.

  9. Seán

    Jumped up fuckwits

    I would have thought the council was there to serve the citizens not to try to arrest them. At the next council meeting it'd be nice if several hundred people showed up and burned the place to the ground. Down to the ground.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Barry

    Ban this sick filth

    We must ban water. It's about time. It's also the cause of so many drowning related deaths. And, what if these terrorists start building super power, long-range water pistols, and start targeting planes with them? And we thought laser pointers were bad!?

    Think of the children.

    Mind you, they did look like a bunch of students. Throw in a few bars of soap, and you've solved a separate problem. So, I suppose it wasn't all bad.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    "This is Leeds, they have Bradford in it"

    In the words of Squiffy Bovril, "No, I'm just not understanding banter at all well today."

    Bradford isn't, thank [insert chosen deity here], in Leeds. And if you want my organs you'll have to prise them from my cold, dead... oh...

    Mine's the one with a lack of civic pride...

  13. Andy Jones

    "It's Leeds"

    Er, Bradford isn't in Leeds. You possibly mean they're in the same county?

    But yeah, Leeds = Dump in my opinion. Everyone else in West Yorkshire seems to think it's a new Promised Land, though.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Where's Jacki?

    Expect to see Jacki Smith spending £255k on a new initiative to monitor these flash mob activities. Police will be armed with "Wazooka Fun Blasters" and waterproof video cameras to put a stop to this type of anarchy!

    Jacki is also looking to reclassify fountain water to Class A as it causes such social unrest.

  15. Andy Worth

    Re:bad influence

    "It's about time Face Book was banned. Everyone knows it’s a hub for organised social unrest. What with that and GTA4, its only our police state that’s holding things together."

    I agree with everything in that statement aside from the words in it. Actually, banning Facebook isn't such a bad idea, but if they try and touch my GTA4 I'll steal their police cars and run over a large congregation of Hasidic Jews (that actually happened in game - one moment I was hitting a kerb and the next moment my airborne car was scattering a group of characters looking like Hasidic Jews).

    *I should mention that I have no intention of ACTUALLY running down a group of Hasidic Jews in real life, I'd rather aim for a group of French people*

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Flash Mob?

    Surely that should be "Splash Mob"?

    Mines the snorkel parka :)

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Police PPE Issue

    Actually, the Police were in attendance... watch this YouTube video:

    There were hiding in and behind vans. Unfortunately, they had left their personal protection equipment in the station for dealing with such incidents and health and safety preventing them from being put in harms way. Permission hadn't been given for the issuing of umbrellas and cagoules!

    I can't really see all this mayhem that is being protrayed by the "man from the council". Perhaps some plants actually drowned through over watering!

    Jacki will be working on a new Bill this morning to prevent such terrorism in the future.

  18. Steve

    Thousands of pounds of damage

    After you've subtracted the catering for the meeting to discuss this, the tender process to find a contractor to do the repairs and the cost of policing, they probably only shelled out a tenner for a bag of bulbs and half a day's gardening.

  19. Upaya

    in favour of a universal application of ASBO's

    luckily those fun goers have the rebuttal that at least they weren't responsible for millions of pounds of water damage because of mismanagement of floods. i reckon fun is more justifiable than idiocy.

    don't the local council spend about a thousand pounds for each chewing gum on the pavement anyway...

  20. Billy Goat Gruff


    There's a massive difference between destroying public property for 'fun' and causing a mess whilst having fun.

    The council is right to be concerned about the property they maintain *for us* but I'm not sure that extends to using criminal law when there are far worse and expensive things these people could have been doing (think drunk, hooded yobs on night out flash mob).

    Perhaps a water fountain park should be designed with fun in mind?

  21. robert

    flash mobes

    i read it as 'flash mobes go bad' and thought it would be some IT story about phones running flash

  22. bobbles31

    Extreme Water Sports

    Jacki will be introducing into the new Soft Porn bill a clause for extreme water sports to prevent this sort of thing in the future with such definitions as:

    sports that involve water pistols, balloons and other items that are being used for the purpose of intense fun. Whether this is real or simulated fun is not important.

    sports that cause nuisance, with no definition of what constitutes nuisance being given. (Her overpaid lawyer mates will help define that in the courts later, or worse still the daily mail will decide)

    Cynic moi? Surely not. (Better not speak to much french, there is an irate GTA fan above with a car poised and ready)

  23. Chris Ashworth
    Thumb Up

    Simple solution

    Organise another 'flash mob' go and clear the place up....

  24. John Wise

    This can't be right

    All this wanton destruction, and yet no mention from the Authorities about this being attributed to reefer madness or GTA IV bloodlust! What will the Daily Mail gang make of it?

    Madness Jim, but not as we know it!

  25. David Perry

    Leeds not all bad

    A girl I've known for years (and am now semi seeing) lives there. Actually hitting the M62 this weekend to see her :)

    Done some work in Bradford, it was alright.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm astonished that this even passed off without some psycho bringing an ammonia-filled super-soaker, or getting so carried away that they committed violence upon another person. A testament to the good nature of flashmobbers.

    As suggested, a mob of flash gardeners would be a good idea too.

  27. Stewart Knight

    Nelson Mandela

    I don't understand why leeds feels that it has to build a memorial to a former terrorist, what next, the Osama Bin Laden childrens playground?

    and FYI el Reg, here in Britian, we spell Honour with a 'u'!!!

  28. Stuart Van Onselen

    Death sentences...

    ...for the lot of them.

    No, seriously!

    The wanton destruction probably only deserves a small fine from each participant. But the stupidity of documenting yourself destroying public property, and then distributing it to the world via Boobtube, is so egregious, that these people can NOT be allowed to breed.

    The gene-pool needs some chlorine.

  29. Badg3r


    Lived in Bradford for 3 years, trust me Leeds is a lot nicer.

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. michael


    why they need cctv it is plastered all over youtube?

  32. Risky
    Thumb Down

    Typical youth airheads

    Yeah trample all over a public garden one day and then go on some environmental demo the next.

  33. Rob
    Thumb Up

    Easy solution

    The council need to advertise on Facebook for a Flash Mob to come and clean up the mess that was produced. Put it in one of the Gurilla Gardening groups and the place will be tidy and looking better than before for free...

  34. Matt Bryer

    Bradford < Leeds

    Having lived in Bradford for a good 18 years of my life, I can confidently say that Leeds is like a garden of Eden compared with it.

    And I fully agree that a corresponding clean-up flash mob would be a great idea.

  35. Steven Raith


    My old man has lived and worked in Leeds and Bradford for over ten years?

    Which is better?

    Scarborough, because it's not as big a shithole as either of the above.

    Steven R

  36. Gilbert Wham

    @David Perry

    What does that mean? That yoo get a semi when you see her?


    Thanks folks, I'm here all week...

  37. Ian Oliver

    I drove past when the water fight was going on

    And it was lots of kids having a great time, just messing around and spraying water at each other on a lovely sunny bank holiday.

    The Police were there but didn't seem to want to go in too heavy, and I think they were also a bit drier hiding in their vans. :-)

    OK, it's a shame the gardens took some collateral damage from careless feet, but Leeds has suffered a lot from shrinking/elimination of public spaces for property development, so there aren't a right lot of places left for this kind of activity.

    I think some people have forgotten what it is to be young, and a whole load of them seem to work in the press industry!


  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    ideala2: you're right.

    I agree with you totally; regardless of whether local residents *wanted* them or not; their tax money went on the plants/flowers/upkeep of that public resource and I'm sure most tax payers will be a bit peeved that even more of their hard earned cash will be spent on making good the reckless and thoughtless damage caused.

    Surely there is more than one open space where these people could have had the water fight (which *did* sound like a lot of fun, if only other people didn't have to lose out as a result)

    I do NOT believe that any of the above posters with gardens would cheerfully laugh it off if all the kids in their street had a water fight in their garden and trashed it.

  39. Dr. E. Amweaver
    Paris Hilton

    Police will review the CCTV footage...

    ..."frankly, the scripting was poor, the director needs more work on this genre and the actors all need to be thrown downstairs repeatedly... I mean, gently spoken to until they learn some discipline in their craft. Next week: we interview Tarantino in connection with the crime against cinema that was DeathProof. Evenin' all."

    Paris: and why not?

  40. John Miles

    What The police were standing around

    and not arresting anyone under the Prevention of terrorism laws etc. - slacking off were they

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A little fairness...

    2 things:

    The police apparently knew about it, but were having resourcing problems due to the 'serious public disorder' issues from Call Lane earlier that morning. (The one where two polish gangs organised a ruck and 5 people were knifed).

    A chap drove past in a convertible. I'll let you guess the rest...

  42. Joe

    A bit of fun for most

    Most people there are just having harmless fun, but there is a (small) nasty element who are there to spoil it for others.

    Have a look at the Facebook photos for last year - there's one where they're ganging up on a cyclist, another they're spraying into a soft-top car. Not really on, that, and it makes everyone else look bad.

    By the way, having lived round here since 1978, I can say that Leeds is infinitely better than Bradford. (Though that's like saying rabbit pooh is better than dog turd. I'd rather have neither!)

  43. Paul

    death was only brought forward...

    Leeds parks and gardens department are only annoyed as usually its them who are ripping perfectly good plants out and replacing them with almost identical ones.

    I can promise you, whilst some poor plants may have been inadvertantly trampled, they would have been marked for termination by the death squad already, and probably only stopped some other poor plants coping it elsewhere in Leeds, at least they died happy.

    I'll get my coat, as I can't afford to heat my house after the Leeds Council Tax hike this year.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    From someone who was actually there.......

    The media needs to get a grip and stop sensationalising things for the sake of a story...the reason why there are no pictures or videos of the damage is that they wouldn't match the story.

    There was always going to be superficial damage done at this kind of event. A lot of people cleaned up the rubbish afterwards and the next day the fountain was working and you could not see much at all. If the council cleaned that up it is the fastest thing the have ever done!

    The council and police knew it was organised and were there, they only took action on 3 occasions. To stop people getting too close to Casa Mia restaraunt, to stop people going mad in the road, getting cars and to take a catapult after a water balloon was aimed at a police van.

    Everyone regrets what did damage and dissruption did occur, but no one who was there caused deliberate damage to the garden or tore up plants. As usual these were a few people being idiots but mainly it was badly organised and should have been on a different weekend when the main square was available. But in this day and age it would never be offcially allowed for health and saftey fears!

    As for calling Leeds a dump, you clearly haven't been there.

    Leeds is the 3rd biggest city in England and as such has all the advantages and problems that come with it. If you think that makes a place a dump then you should rephrase your comment and aim it at all large cities!....By the way, Leeds is the second Greenest city in Europe after Vienna!

    I have visited and worked in just about every major city up and down the country. Leeds compares very well among similar cities and is much nicer than anything in the nearby M62 corridor - Liverpool/Manchester/Bradford/Wakefield/Sheffield/Hull.


  45. Steve

    so-called 'fun' is unforgivable

    Yes I've heard of this 'fun' young people do it don't they?

    Hopefully next year's water fight will be somewhere more suitable for water fighters.

  46. Steve Sherlock

    Bring out the big guns

    Our local park was recently attacked with a gallon of Shell's finest - I'd much rather kids ran around shooting water pistols at each other.

  47. Shinobi87


    also bradford isn't part of leeds! you swine!

  48. Shinobi87
    Thumb Down

    i saw this

    i was driving to the LGI (hospital) and saw what id say was about 50 people tops having a water fight. and the police you ask? well all they did was barricade the road (even tho there was no one on the road) jolly good of them when its the only way to the hospital.

  49. Rick

    Leeds is the 3rd biggest city in England?

    Well, aside from the fact that there are three cities bigger than it.

  50. Steve Mann

    John Mills

    I saw this on the 80s remake of Quatermass.

    Aliens convinced Daft Yoof to congregate in certain places, then disassembled them down to the molecular level to harvest some of their chemicals leaving only a rather disgusting brown fog.

    The story differed only in minor detail from this Facebook flash mob thing.

    What we should be asking is: Facebook - Are UFOs involved? And if they are, how can we get them to cart off the ASBO generation before they vote again and do to the world what they just did to London?

    All hail the Secret Alien Masters of the Universe!

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So which is better, Leeds or Bradford?

    Theres only one way to find out....

    (water)FIGHT ! ! !

  52. trackSuit

    Budget public event and much Valued

    Abundant video evidence shows the participants were genuinely having fun, John Procter, so any talk of "so-called 'fun' " is your opinion.

    If the worst that happened was a few thousand pounds worth of accidental damage then this would be one of the cheapest public events in recent times.

    If the issue of damage is of concern, then why not invite the organisers plus any other volunteers to make amends? It's their garden too, isn't it?

    If the police were crafty, some of them would join in. Being a part of the community gives police the kind of intel that money cannot buy.

    And Tux, for his natural love of water.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @AC MarkM

    "Leeds is the second Greenest city in Europe after Vienna"


    dammed lies

    and statistics

  54. Anonymous Coward

    Where's the Counter Terrorism Unit when you need them?

    One man's water fighter is another man's terrorist.

    Sounds like some Jack Bauer kneecappings are required. After all, these days, the ends justifies the means.

  55. Cap'n wotsit
    Paris Hilton

    Next Years event

    maybe next year the police and fire brigade will be able to organise the riot water hoses and "redistribute" the fire trucks in a security cordon around the event to totally Pwn everyone else and have a bit of a luagh along with it. look on the bright side, it would be the first time in a long time a team from leeds won anything....

    mines the souwester with the footy rattle in the pocket and fasionable rain hat

    and paris, cos she likes it wet


  56. Matt Bridge-Wilkinson
    Dead Vulture


    I have only been to Bradford once to drop a friend off at his new flat.The one thing that stays with me is that Bradford had an interesting aroma that day, one I can only describe as fish in a hot tumble drier.

    Cant say I want to go back.

  57. Anthony

    Next years plans

    The popularity of this and similar events (pillow fight in Manchester, sociology rallies) suggest a group of people from any area can be easily manipulated to do anything in the name of social networking fun.

    That should definitely be harnessed until the point where it actually does go too far and the Government has to step in and ban social networking before it replaces the Government itself.

    Obviously social networking needs to get organised and get rid of the Government before this happens.

    The only thing that could previously have stopped this was recently reclassified and future alcohol fuelled flashes may not be pretty.

  58. Smoovious

    A justified use of force...

    Perhaps the police should have brought out those water cannons the like using... would be an appropriate use of force. Put the water fight up onto a whole new level. :)

    -- Smoovious

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