Vigilante

The Bald Knobbers, an 1880s vigilante group from Missouri, wearing crude "blackface" masks typical of the post-Reconstruction era in the United States – as portrayed in the 1919 film, The Shepherd of the Hills.

A vigilante (/ˌvɪɪˈlænti/, /ˌvɪɪˈlænt/; Spanish: [bixiˈlante]; Portuguese: [viʒiˈlɐ̃t(ɨ)], [viʒiˈlɐ̃tʃi]) is a civilian or organization acting in a law enforcement capacity (or in the pursuit of self-perceived justice) without legal authority.

Vigilante conduct[]

"Vigilante justice" is often rationalized by the concept that proper legal forms of criminal punishment are either nonexistent, insufficient, or inefficient. Vigilantes normally see the government as ineffective in enforcing the law; such individuals often claim to justify their actions as a fulfillment of the wishes of the community.

Persons alleged to be escaping the law or above the law are sometimes the victims of vigilantism.[1]

Vigilante conduct involves varied degrees of violence. Vigilantes could assault targets verbally and/or physically, damage and/or vandalize property, or even murder individuals.

In a number of cases, vigilantism has involved targets with mistaken identities.

History[]

Vigilantism and the vigilante ethos existed long before the word vigilante was introduced into the English language. There are conceptual and psychological parallels between the Dark Age and medieval aristocratic custom of private war or vendetta and the modern vigilante philosophy.

Elements of the concept of vigilantism can be found in the Biblical account in Genesis 34 of the abduction and rape (or, by some interpretations, seduction) of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, in the Canaanite city of Shechem by the eponymous son of the ruler, and the violent reaction of her brothers Simeon and Levi, who slew all of the males of the city in revenge, rescued their sister and plundered Shechem. When Jacob protested that their actions might bring trouble upon him and his family, the brothers replied "Should he [i.e., Shechem] treat our sister as a harlot?"

Similarly, in 2 Samuel 13, Absalom kills Amnon after King David, their father, fails to punish Amnon for raping Tamar, their sister.

Recourse to personal vengeance and dueling was considered a class privilege of the sword-bearing aristocracy before the formation of the modern centralized liberal-bureaucratic nation-state (see Marc Bloch, trans. L. A. Manyon, Feudal Society, Vol. I, 1965, p. 127). In addition, sociologists[who?] have posited a complex legal and ethical interrelationship between vigilante acts and rebellion and tyrannicide.

In the Western literary and cultural tradition, characteristics of vigilantism have often been vested in folkloric heroes and legendary outlaws (e.g., Robin Hood[6]). Vigilantism in literature, folklore and legend is connected to the fundamental issues of dissatisfied morality, injustice, the failures of authority and the ethical adequacy of legitimate governance.

During medieval times, punishment of felons was sometimes exercised by such secret societies as the courts of the Vehm[7] (cf. the medieval Sardinian Gamurra later become Barracelli, the Sicilian Vendicatori and the Beati Paoli), a type of early vigilante organization, which became extremely powerful in Westphalian Germany during the 15th century.

Colonial era in America[]

Formally-defined vigilantism arose in the early American colonies.

India[]

In India, vigilante refers to when a group metes out extralegal punishment to alleged lawbreakers. Vigilantism is also referred to as "mob justice".[8] It is usually caused by perception of corruption and delays in the judicial system.[9]

19th century[]

As boom-towns, or mining towns in California because of the Gold Rush, started appearing towards the 1850s, vigilantes started taking justice into their own hands because these towns did not have any established forms of government. These people would assault accused thieves, rapists and murderers. When they assaulted these thieves, they would steal their gold and give it to the accuser. Other than reports and newspapers, there are not many records of vigilantes. Few names or groups are known.

A lynching carried out by the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1856
"Great Hanging at Gainesville", 1862

Later in the United States, vigilante groups arose in poorly governed frontier areas where criminals preyed upon the citizenry with impunity.[10]

20th century[]

21st century[]

See also[]

References[]

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  5. ^ Mara Kardas-Nelson. "Mpumalanga's not-so-clean coal". The M&G Online. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Mark D. Meyerson, Daniel Thiery (2004-11-01). A Great Effusion of Blood?: Interpreting Medieval Violence. 
  7. ^ "Germany: Die Feme". Time. Oct 16, 1944. 
  8. ^ "Mob justice and civil society's breakdown". September 4, 2007. 
  9. ^ "Mob Justice (Mob Reaction)". June 24, 2017. 
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  12. ^ Monkkonen, Eric (2005). "Western Homicide: The Case of Los Angeles, 1830–1870". Pacific Historical Review. 74 (4): 603–618 [p. 609]. doi:10.1525/phr.2005.74.4.603. The homicide rate between 1847 and 1870 averaged 158 per 100,000 (13 murders per year), which was 10 to 20 times the annual murder rates for New York City during the same period 
  13. ^ http://www.kshs.org/publicat/history/1995summer_watts.pdf
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