I am always delighted when victims fight back, and I am thrilled when victims fight back and win. And so I am delighted to read that the people of the Newcastle suburb of Maryland are preparing to defend themselves against thugs apparently roaming the suburb looking for victims. As you may have read in the Herald these thugs assaulted two men on the one night recently, putting one of them in hospital with serious injuries. Later the Herald reported plans among the men of Maryland to band together to fight back, to defend themselves against the thugs, and naturally they were described as vigilantes.
If they respond with force to an attack or a threat of an attack these men must be acting sensibly, because not reacting in number and with force is why individuals among them have been bashed and their families imperilled. I have never understood the disapproval by those on the high ground - the high and safe ground! - of vigilantism. I mean, if the police cannot protect us, as they have not done at Maryland, do we cower in a corner of the laundry?
If confronting those who threaten and attack us, if pursuing them and meeting their force with greater force, is vigilantism, then I have long been a vigilante. As I describe in more detail in my column today, I have chased and caught men stealing my car or trying to break into my house quite a number of times, and in most cases handed them over to the police. Five years ago I recovered a valuable bike stolen that day by burglars when I found a fellow riding it in a nearby Department of Housing complex, and it seemed odd to me that the police were unhappy about that. They were unhappier when I returned to the estate to find the rider to ask about a stolen laptop and so they followed me as I searched, which was good because they were at hand when I found people who knew something about it.
There is nothing like a little vigilantism to pique police interest in the case, and so the people who come together in Maryland to watch, to harass, to film the roving louts, and to use as much force as necessary to defend themselves will find a much greater police presence in their suburb. Remember, keep it legal.
Do you see a community banding together to defend itself as positive vigilantism? Is there an alternative when policing fails?