“#Vigilantism, like rioting, violates the social order”
August 27, 2020 | 8:24pm
Men carry rifles as people protest outside the Kenosha County Courthouse in the wake of the Jacob Blake police shooting.
The 17-year-old joined a militia set on “protecting” businesses in Kenosha, Wis., amid the rioting after a cop shot a black man, Jacob Blake. At some point Tuesday, Rittenhouse wound up far over his head in a confrontation with angry protesters/rioters. He allegedly shot three people, killing two.
Wrong as rioting is, none of the vigilantes had any business stepping in: They’re not police officers trained to avoid deadly mistakes like Tuesday’s. It wasn’t their job to protect anything. Nor was it their own property — indeed, many (if not all), including Rittenhouse, weren’t even from the area.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth understood all that when he denied their request to be deputized: “What happened last night is the perfect reason why I didn’t” deputize them, he said Wednesday.
Yes, the rioters have been out of control since Sunday, when Blake was shot. Scores of businesses have been looted or vandalized and fires set. Thugs have freely smashed cars and destroyed property.
But what’s been needed there and other places where mobs have run amok is for authorities to do their jobs, for adequate law enforcement to take up the positions the vigilantes felt justified assuming — to keep businesses and the general public safe.
It’s all fresh proof of how wrong the “defund the police” left is: Because idiocy like Rittenhouse’s is one of the all-too-likely results when you weaken society’s protectors, and when politicians hold police back from confronting utterly un-peaceful “protesters.”
It’s one thing for store owners to protect their businesses, as some have done during these riots: That’s a form of self defense, by people rooted in the community. It’s another for yahoos to jump into situations far beyond their ken or control.
All sides might ponder the tale of New York City’s own infamous vigilante of the crime-ridden ’80s: Bernhard Goetz.
Surrounded on a subway by four teens who demanded cash, Goetz pulled out an illegal gun and shot them all. Much of the public — weary of muggings, robberies, murders and other rampant crime — cheered, and a grand jury refused to indict Goetz on nearly all charges, despite ample evidence.
But the city as a whole kept getting more dangerous — until it started taking crime-fighting seriously in the ’90s.
Everything we’ve seen so far suggests the Kenosha cops had no good reason to gun down Jacob Blake. But the fix for bad policing is good policing, not less policing — which brings a downward spiral all its own.
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