OK - this is a shameless reprint, but it's oh so timely. This is another local, Baltimore issue, which has gotten some national press due to the Trayvon Martin case. There have been parallels drawn between the two cases, but I'd like to point out two that Dan Rodricks, whose columns I believe are regularly on point, failed to miss: racism and vigilantism. Here's the link to his op-ed today on the case:
In the Shomrim case, the two members of the "neighborhood patrol," who were both Jewish, told a African-American teenager that he "didn't belong (in the neighborhood." Last time I checked, unless the community is a gated one, anyone has the right to freedom of movement on public sidewalks and roads, anywhere anytime. How sick and racist was that? I'm surprised they didn't tell him, "Show me your papers..."
Second, as other columnists have pointed out both in this and the Trayvon Martin case, the two neighborhood patrolmen crossed the line to vigilantism when they got out of their car to confront the young man. All they had to do and should have done was call 911 to ask for police assistance, even if as it turned out the young man was simply walking to meet his mother at a nearby bus stop.
I'm just disturbed by the continued breakdown of bonds within and between communities. Everyone seems to be in a rush to be able to use and justify the use of violence. It's like people are actually spoiling for a fight. I think we need to get these would be vigilantes off the streets. THEY are the real hoodlums, and I hope that the young man whom they assaulted finds justice.