Vigilantism In America

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As innate to America as apple pie and baseball are, so is vigilantism. Since the decision to revolt against Britain in 1776, acts of vigilantism have prevailed the nation. American vigilantism organizes itself into three distinct eras, classical, neo and pseudo vigilantism all of which serve as reactions to epidemics plaguing the nation.
Classical vigilantism, in essence, is another term for frontier justice. As the United States pushed westward into previously uninhabited lands the problem of policing those lands arises. Lack of funds and people’s general fear kept much of rural America alien from those already established communities (Brown, 1975). The idea of vigilance committees was in response to the necessity of providing not only law
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The Black Panther Party, the Rodney King Race Riots and George Zimmerman are examples. There is a clearly established judicial system in place, which possesses the ability to enact its laws, but the public loses confidence in the system and feels justification for striking out (Brown, 1976). Rising crime rates, especially of those during the 1980s, create a society which is more trigger jumpy and find power in being able to protect themselves against (Scully & Moorman, 2014). Belief in self defense rises to an all time high as “armed citizens annually encounter, and kill, as many as three times more violent offenders than police do and instances of lawful defensive gun use by citizens each year actually exceed fun misuse by felons.” (Scully & Moorman, 2014) Through crime rates, and attempts to combat them, this pseudo vigilantism has created more violence than ever before. The belief that vigilantism is justifiable becomes reinforced by pop culture, through Batman, Dexter and Died Hard. The fact that there are more criminals the police officers, and more crimes than the system can handle, persists in the human conscious. Pseudo vigilantism also finds a clash, between actual police and civilian vigilantes. In Seattle, Phoenix Jones dresses up in black tights and dons a red mask to protect his city, but Jones is routinely arrested and has even gone to trial for assault (Moore, 2009). George Zimmerman’s trial was national headlines for weeks, as the legality of his vigilantism was debated. It is the current era, which goes toe to toe with the police, which the morality of vigilantism, and thus the concept as whole, is put under the most

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