The media reports come with alarming frequency, and on the heels of each other. Three incidents in the span of a few short weeks point to even shorter fuses, depending on protection and correction from the legitimacy of the law.
It may be legitimate, but is largely absent, or deplorably late, or means nothing when the pains of broken limbs are nursed, dead bodies buried, and when tortured memories and emotional scars resist healing.
So it was in Linden way outside the city gates. The scenario draws the picture for what is to follow: an invasive incident, cornering and capturing, and then a beating to the heart’s content. Community rage spiraling out of control. Linden was different from the others: the would-be perpetrator-turned-victim died.
Agricola came just last week in the most harrowing manner. A child with life, then a severed body, last the righteous rage. Well, at least from the perspective of the enraged villagers. It was an accident, but a driver felt the brunt of the blows raining from many angles and many more hands and feet. There is a dangerous tilt to the passions of besieged and agitated citizens.
The mob rules. The perception is of blaring horns, speeding trucks (and other vehicles) and the uncaring arrogance of those who use the roads as racetracks. Time to get even; time to score one for the little guys walking the streets every day. Blows. Battery. Brutality.
The one saving grace in that incident, where a child was crushed in the most sickening manner is that the one beaten up is not from the across the divide. That would have fueled even more disturbing images and commenting and baiting and mongering via the usual channels. Thank God for strange, small mercies, all things considered; and with regard to the injured.
This unhealthy unnerving trend continues in distant East Bank Berbice, where a would-be thief is dealt with in the usual fashion. Better he than what would have been we. Some two hundred minutes later, the police arrive. That is an eternity in which a homeowner could have died; or, in this instance, the captured.
There may have been some quiet gloating, some satisfaction and relief in private corners. Passions sated; anger cooled temporarily. This is not sustainable. It is not condonable or pardonable, this taking the law into its own hands.
Agreed that the law does not have the needed hands. Not enough of them. Not capable ones. Not clean ones. Not trusted and dependable ones. Therefore, there is Linden and Agricola and East Bank Berbice.
There is an inherent problem there: this vigilantism of the village can mushroom into the norm. It is easy to go from fists to sticks. And then to raise the bar from sticks to steel. The latter could take many shapes and forms and increasingly more savage intents.
Some steel may be either sharp, blunt, or heavy. And still others lethal in power and result. Settle the score. Eliminate the known pox on the house.
Once started and gains traction, vigilantism doesn’t have to be restricted to a crowd of irate citizens roused into uncontrollable fury and mayhem. People fed up and disgusted beyond recognition. Fearful, too. Very easy for a different variety of vigilantes (phantoms) to emerge. Easy to take care of business: money and means (men, too). Since nobody else can…. Since the deterrent and coercive power of the state can’t.
Speculation is that such may have already occurred in several instances. Think: recently accused. Recently jailed. Even recently suspected. Those are enough grounds: Street justice. Family justice. Money justice. One result: blood justice. An eye for an eye.
This is what threatens, through the burgeoning frustrations; the ventilating through community violence. Human to understand.
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