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Mob kills men after traffic accident
August 1, 2002 1:21 PM   Subscribe

Mob kills men after traffic accident. This story is a little disturbing; it's been on CNN etc., but here in Chicago it's the hourly top story. A van driven by two middle-aged men moving furniture jumped a curb and pinned three girls against a step. In retaliation, a crowd of a dozen or more yanked the men from their van and beat them with fists and even bricks. Both died. The police have fanned out looking for witnesses and evidence, with a few arrests, but no charges as of yet. [more inside]
posted by dhartung (75 comments total)

 
Dear Dan:

We all waited inside for you, but when you didn't show up we went to Marie Callender's for pie.

Love,

MeFi.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:29 PM on August 1, 2002


As a side note: The girls were seriously injured, including broken bones. And it's not in the article, but it appears that all persons involved, victims and perpetrators, were black. (So is the police chief, and so are the shocked witnesses.) It's the fourth case of fatal "road rage" here in one year.

Just another instance of mob psychology? Or could it be related to distrust of the police? The question I haven't seen answered in all the local coverage, so far, is how quickly the police were called -- or responded. (There was a bad case of slow response -- to a domestic violence call -- that is still rippling.) It appears 911 calls were made, but nobody stepped in to stop the mob.
posted by dhartung at 1:31 PM on August 1, 2002


but it appears that all persons involved, victims and perpetrators, were black. (So is the police chief, and so are the shocked witnesses.)

So what? If this happened in ChinaTown, they'd all be Asian...what are you implying?
posted by BlueTrain at 1:36 PM on August 1, 2002


This is sad for everyone involved. I can't imagine the kind of mob mentality that leads to this (okay, I can imagine it, I just don't want to). I have to say, though, that had I been there, I don't know how I would have tried to stop it.

They beat them with bricks.
posted by ColdChef at 1:38 PM on August 1, 2002


So what? If this happened in ChinaTown, they'd all be Asian...what are you implying?

I'd assume that he's implying that the killings weren't racially motivated.
posted by ColdChef at 1:39 PM on August 1, 2002


deplorable. On all counts; witnesses doing nothing to stop it, police/investigation status, the beating/murders, etc.
posted by tomplus2 at 1:40 PM on August 1, 2002


The article said that the police were on the scene within 4 minutes of the first of the 20 911 calls they received.

nobody stepped in to stop the mob

Would you have jumped into an angry bloodthirsty mob? You'd have to be a happy combination of brave and stupid to rush in there...the responsible thing to do is to call 911, which 20 people did. It would have been ridiculously stupid & dangerous for a civilian to jump in there.
posted by catfood at 1:40 PM on August 1, 2002


The responsibility lies with the people who did the crime and those who didn't try to stop them...
Nothing can mitigate the culpability of the killers -- not late police response, not careless driving, not nothing. The big moral question that makes this crime of more interest than the dozen or so other murders that will take place today is the second part of that above sentence. How responsible are those who didn't try to stop the killing? Taken far enough, we're all responsible for some kind of killing somewhere. Where does the buck stop?
posted by Faze at 1:42 PM on August 1, 2002


I'm not going to attempt to defend mob violence, but I can certainly understand how something like this might happen. After living on a residential street that's constantly being treated as a dragstrip, having three cars end up in my front yard in less than a year, and losing two mailboxes to drunks, if someone hits a kid (especially one of mine) in my neighborhood they'd better hope the police get to them before I do, and God help them if they're DUI (as may be the case in this story).
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:47 PM on August 1, 2002


I don't want to sound like I'm defending the mob in the least, let me start off with that.


However, it is not uncommon for kids to get basically plowed down on inner-city streets, with the drivers getting little more than a slap on the wrist, if that. Often they take off and never get caught. It happened quite frequently near where I used to live, and it wasn't uncommon for people to talk about how they wished they had been there so they could "take care" of the driver the system wouldn't bother to punish.

These people saw someone take a wild U-turn, run a light, and drive up a flight of stairs pinning several girls against a stone wall. What the hell kind of bad driving is that? If the driver is found to have been sober I'll be very shocked. It might just be an unfortunate case of people having seen this sort of thing too often and reaching a breaking point.
posted by Kellydamnit at 1:47 PM on August 1, 2002


Do NOT mess with the South Side.
posted by thirteen at 1:48 PM on August 1, 2002


Crash: if someone hits a kid (especially one of mine) in my neighborhood they'd better hope the police get to them before I do, and God help them if they're DUI (as may be the case in this story).

You know, the same thing occurred to me. I'm sure I'd want to kill them. And maybe I'd try. I just hope that my friends and neighbors would have sense enough to try to stop me, not join in.
posted by ColdChef at 1:53 PM on August 1, 2002


This kind of thing has happened in the Chicagoland area before and its nothing short of a complete breakdown of civilization. Ironically, when the deed is done its tough to get information from witnessess, they don't see murderers they see two guys from the neighborhood not to mention they might have been the ones chanting "kill him" over and over.

I wonder how many more hit and runs we're going to have on the south side (or anywhere) because of this? Pull over to help your fellow man only to be killed by your fellow man? No thanks.

dhartung: The question I haven't seen answered in all the local coverage, so far, is how quickly the police were called -- or responded.

It takes very little time for a mob wielding bricks to kill someone. I doubt this will even be an issue. According the the second link you posted one witnessed claimed it was over very quickly.

Quote from AP article.
But the Rev. Bamani Obadele, who lives nearby, said people in the community don't support street vigilantism.

"It was dead wrong," he said.
Classy.
posted by skallas at 1:58 PM on August 1, 2002


I hope they find the guys and convict them of murder. I hope they do hard time.

That said: I've felt the same way myself. I used to live in a really bad part of Denver (Capitol Hill, Poet's Row, if anyone's from around there), and there was a situation when three kids got run over on the sidewalk when some pissed-off (and drug-addled) gangbanger tried to pull off a drive-by, lost control of his ride, and ran the kids over.

I remember the crowd pushing the gangbanger around, and I really think that if the cops hadn't shown within a few minutes, that guy'd be fertilizer right now. I remember wanting to go over there and clout the stupid f**ker with a two-by-four myself.
posted by mrmanley at 1:59 PM on August 1, 2002


Not that I condone lynching, but maybe people will think twice before pulling dumb stunts like that U-turn that caused it all.
posted by dr_dank at 2:01 PM on August 1, 2002


I can see it from the mob side a bit, at least I understand that most people would be angry beyond reason.

But I can't help but think that if 3 of my neighbors were pinned under a van, I'd be more concerned with helping them than beating the sh#t out of the jerks who hit them.
posted by catfood at 2:04 PM on August 1, 2002


its nothing short of a complete breakdown of civilization

what's so great about civilization? i think it's encouraging to see people reverting to being animals for a change.
posted by mokey at 2:08 PM on August 1, 2002


skallas: I wonder how many more hit and runs we're going to have on the south side (or anywhere) because of this?

I would think that if anything, there would be less.

I'm with crash davis et al on this. I'm much more disturbed by the fact that someone ran down a couple of pedestrians than that a group of witnesses killed the guy that did it. The passenger is another story...he may, for all we know, have been oblivious, or trying to keep the driver from doing it.

I think the lesson here is not to drive your car into innocent pedestrians.
posted by bingo at 2:18 PM on August 1, 2002


if i was the girl whose boyfriend was involved i'd be pissed. i get out of the hospital and he's in prison for murder. nice.
posted by witchstone at 2:21 PM on August 1, 2002


We'll see if a jury convicts him, witchstone.
posted by bingo at 2:25 PM on August 1, 2002


"Mob kills...."
When I read that I thought that the mafia had done the killing. I need to stop watching gangster movies.
posted by Apoch at 2:25 PM on August 1, 2002


what's left of the mafia's based in the burbs now. not the south side.
posted by patricking at 2:35 PM on August 1, 2002


Other witnesses said onlookers egged on the attackers, shouting, "Kill them!" and "Hit them in the head!"

What kind of combination of circumstances produces such vermin? Words suitable to describe the disgust I have for this story are beyond anything I can muster. If this is what Americans face at home, terrorists should be the least of their concerns.
posted by holycola at 2:45 PM on August 1, 2002


I'm much more disturbed by the fact that someone ran down a couple of pedestrians than that a group of witnesses killed the guy that did it.

Wow. You're actually more bothered by criminal stupidity with unintended consequences causing injury than by criminal thuggery with the intent to kill? How does that value system work?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:48 PM on August 1, 2002


I really like how a lot of people automatically are assuming that this was a purposeful act ... that the guy driving the van meant to do it. We don't have all the facts yet, and we may not ever get them since the people in the van now can't speak for themselves. Pedestrians get killed by cars everyday. Is it ok to assume that the drivers intentionally ran them down and kill them?

It seems that most of the people there knew who these guys were. They were from the neighborhood. Even if they had gotten out of the van and made a run for it (because I doubt the van was going to go anywhere), they could have been easily found, if nothing else from the rental van records. We know that the group of people that beat these men to death purposefully took two lives and are still out on the streets hiding or being hidden.

If you are strong enough to beat people to death, you are strong enough to detain them, even against their will, while you wait for the police to arrive.
posted by Orb at 2:49 PM on August 1, 2002


Would you have jumped into an angry bloodthirsty mob?

If I was armed, I might give it a try. Mobs generally are run by cowards who wouldn't act alone. If any one of them came at me with a brick, I'd shoot him. The sight of real force or opposition tends to make the cowards run with their tails between their legs (see Korean businessmen protecting their shops with guns in the L.A. riots as exhibit A).

I think what happened to these two men was terrible.
posted by insomnyuk at 2:54 PM on August 1, 2002


bingo: I think the lesson here is not to drive your car into innocent pedestrians.

The cause of the accident is still unknown, but its very telling to see you already placing blame and defending senseless murder.

What if it was a mechanical failure? It doesnt make a difference to me. The people at the scene are uniformed and angry. How's this for the lesson here: do not take the law into your own hands.

I can't see how you can defend crimes of passion because they neatly fit into you stereotypical 'gangbanger' or 'asshole driver.' Looks like you guys are just defending your preconceptions and ignoring the fact that a mob of Americans murdered two men simply for causing an accident. Granted it happens and understandable, but certainly not excusable and the talk of 'I'd do it too' is so much BS machismo its not even funny. Hope you don't skid on some ice this winter and hit anyone! Machismo is a two-way street.

A a few years ago a drunk driver rear ended my car, totaled my car, and injured my girlfriend who just had serious back surgery. As she was going onto the ambulance I was concerned about safety and working with the police and not about beating down the drunk. And this was on the south side with lots of witnesses.

I also live in an urban neighborhood and I've seen gangbangers crash into parked cars at least twice, one time barely missing mine. People out here drive like shit, but I don't consider murdering them and then justfying it later with some lame argument based on stereotypes.

As a human being you're suppose to be in control of yourself and responsible for your actions. That's a two way street. Beat down the drunk, asshole driver, or whoever your hobgoblin is, but expect to spend some time in prison with little sympathy from anyone else. If we can identify with this crime of passion can be identify with others, like the guy who killed the gay man who hit on him?

Regardless, I'm not advocating throwing the book at the mob participants, that's why we have degrees of murder, but to excuse their actions is ridiculous to me.

holycola: Chicago's south side is mostly black and relatively poor. The racial tensions are as bad here as anywhere. I expect a lot of this to quickly degenerate into a big social/racial problem in the media.
posted by skallas at 2:55 PM on August 1, 2002


If I was armed, I might give it a try. Mobs generally are run by cowards who wouldn't act alone. If any one of them came at me with a brick, I'd shoot him.

::shakes head::

End the violence with more violence, eh?
posted by BlueTrain at 3:01 PM on August 1, 2002


Apoch, I'm with you. I had to read the article twice to lose the notion that this was mafia inspired.

Re: the mob killing. The thought just gives me chills. Don't underestimate any human's potential (including one's own) to do something like this, given just the right circumstances. It's gut reaction and animal instinct, fight or flight, right? Panic or rage. That's what gets me most about this article-- wondering would I have been a part of it, had the victims been my daughter, or my mother.

I think anyone who wasn't swept up in the rage that drove these people to bludgeon two men to death with bricks were probably experiencing panic.

The ones who murdered the two men will be prosecuted on general premise, but it's going to be beyond easy to successfully plead temporary insanity (at least, for some of them). Seriously. That was some mass mental snapping going on there.

As for the others-- it's insane to expect someone to get in the middle of a mob driven by blood lust, especially if you're panicking. That "blame the neighborhood" bit is illogical.
posted by precocious at 3:08 PM on August 1, 2002


i don't think i would use force to stop them...but i would try to remind people that Dead people can't be sued for damages.

as far as the racial aspects of the case...in my head i pictured this as a mixed race incident...with the mob being of a different race that the drivers...whether white or black or whatever. Somehow...in some horrible way, that would have made more sense to me. That is terrible in an of itself i think.
posted by th3ph17 at 3:10 PM on August 1, 2002


That this could have happened is scary, that some people can cooly condone it is very scary. If the "mob" had an excuse, (which it didn't) it could have been said to have been acting out of passion in the heat of the moment, having witnessed something shocking. To be able to sit at a keyboard and calmly defend such actions astonishes me.
Where does it end with the vigilante justice? Are legal systems not designed to defend us from ourselves as much as criminals? We have laws so that we do not have to administer instant "justice"; the state does it for us, or is supposed to. It is the difference between justice and revenge.
For what it's worth many years ago I was left, broken and bleeding, in the gutter by a hit and run driver. When I came to I was grateful that I was ok, thoughts of revenge did not enter my head.
posted by Fat Buddha at 3:10 PM on August 1, 2002


"But I can't help but think that if 3 of my neighbors were pinned under a van, I'd be more concerned with helping them than beating the sh#t out of the jerks who hit them."

I'm with you on that one, catfood; that was my first thought. I would hope that my significant other --especially-- would be concerned first and foremost with my well-being, with anything else paling beside that. According to the article, "One of the attackers was a boyfriend of one of the injured women..." I find it insanely fucked up that he was worried more about retribution for injury before he even knew the extent of the injury.

As a matter of fact, I was surprised to see that the discussion has not yet taken this tack.
posted by JettSuperior at 3:18 PM on August 1, 2002


drunk winos with van killed by drunk wino pedestrians. film at eleven.
posted by quonsar at 3:20 PM on August 1, 2002


Chicago South Sider here.
What bothers me most is that there were so *many* people who didn't bother to stop it. By all accounts I've heard, it was 5 guys beating on the two men in the car--and a whole block full of people standing around watching. And not just standing around watching these two men get clobbered--but standing around not even helping the three women. Only 20 calls to 911? That seems to be too few.

Do NOT mess with the South Side.
My thoughts as well. Had this happened at, say, Lincoln & Armitage on the North Side, there would be lawsuits today, not funerals. Not because they're less brutal on the North Side; they just prefer to eviscerate you in other ways.
posted by macadamiaranch at 3:45 PM on August 1, 2002


That this could have happened is scary, that some people can cooly condone it is very scary. If the "mob" had an excuse, (which it didn't)

Hello?

A van slams into people that you know and love. Huge van, little easily broken people-- it's logical and possible that the first thought was that they were already dead. "Stopping to check out whether or not they were okay," is what a person with full reasoning ability would do. You can't expect a person either panicking or enraged to do what a person with full reasoning ability would even find it difficult to do.

Did the mob have an excuse? That depends. How well did the mob know the people trapped by the van? Had to be pretty well and/or intimately, to inspire the kind of emotion it takes to kill. So you've got a mob of people who all cared greatly for three people whom it's very easy to assume was killed on impact . . . and you can't understand how something like this could happen?

I'm not condoning this. But do I understand? Why yes, yes, I do. I also understand how easy it is to chalk this up to the mob being peopled by depraved monsters, instead of contemplating that these people could have been anyone, just like you and me, caught in a situation where that inherently animalistic creature present in all humans was unleashed (as corny as that might sound).

Think "Lord of the Flies," on this one. Given the right situation, under the right stressing factors, we're capable of doing things that we would otherwise never, ever do. And I believe in those moments the mobbing was occurring, the participants must have 1) honestly believed there was no saving the three victims, and 2) been temporarily insane.
posted by precocious at 4:01 PM on August 1, 2002


Do NOT mess with the South Side.

My thoughts as well. Had this happened at, say, Lincoln & Armitage on the North Side, there would be lawsuits today, not funerals. Not because they're less brutal on the North Side; they just prefer to eviscerate you in other ways.


My ex-girlfriend lives (precisely) at Lincoln and Armitage and I can assure you that...if she is representative of that general neighborhood...then yes, they are quite skilled in the arts of torture.
posted by mathis23 at 4:05 PM on August 1, 2002


I disagree on your last point precocious. Our assumptions about what these people "felt" or "honestly believed" are irrelevant. Read the story again. I suggest you read the sidebar for previous incidents like this as well. In those cases, I'm sure the perpetrators honestly believed that they were justified but that doesn't make it ok. Yes we are all capable of doing evil things but the fact that I don't, is what allows you and me to walk the streets.

As much as I try, I cannot understand why this type of thing happens. Maybe on some intellectual level I can but that's it.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 4:13 PM on August 1, 2002


Armitage Shanks: You're actually more bothered by criminal stupidity with unintended consequences causing injury than by criminal thuggery with the intent to kill? How does that value system work?

You and I are making different assumptions about what was really going on here. I'm not so willing to write off the driver's motivations as "criminal stupidity," nor the crowd's actions as "criminal thuggery."

Evidence seems to suggest that the crowd was made up of people who knew both the people in the car and the people who were hit by the car. We the readers have no basis on which to gauge the motivations or intentions of the men in the car, but maybe the witnesses do.

I can't see how you can defend crimes of passion because they neatly fit into you stereotypical 'gangbanger' or 'asshole driver.' Looks like you guys are just defending your preconceptions and ignoring the fact that a mob of Americans murdered two men simply for causing an accident...I also live in an urban neighborhood and I've seen gangbangers crash into parked cars at least twice, one time barely missing mine. People out here drive like shit, but I don't consider murdering them and then justfying it later with some lame argument based on stereotypes.

Seems like you're awfully sure of yourself when it comes to other people's stereotypes. I live in a high-crime urban area myself. and it wouldn't surprise me much to see an incident like this take place on my street. Since I moved here four years ago, at least four people that I know of have been murdered within three blocks of my apartment building. What's more, drivers in this area show little regard for human life, and the police, often found literally at the donut shop nearby, are slow to respond to emergencies. If this kind of vigilantism took place more frequently in my own neighborhood, I would feel better about living here. And I hope to god that if a car ever drives up a flight of stairs and pins me against a building, that onlookers will band together and kill the person driving the car. Slowly.
posted by bingo at 4:17 PM on August 1, 2002


By all accounts I've heard, it was 5 guys beating on the two men in the car--and a whole block full of people standing around watching.

There's really no way to predict how people will react in horrifying, sickening situations like this one. Not everyone has the presence of mind it takes to shake out of the state that watching something as violent as a bricking can induce. This is definitely one of those situations where everything's in shades of gray, and trying to reduce it to black and white (or trying to interpret anything without keeping in mind human emotions) is more than a bit narrow-minded.

Power to anyone who believes that they'd have either tried to stop it or would have been able to make it to a phone. Twenty phone calls to 911, under those circumstances, is damned good . . . and I'm willing to bet that the majority (if not all) of those calls were placed by people who didn't directly see what happened.

More power to anyone who can admit that they might have just stood there. Horrified. Trying to scream "stop" or "help" and barely being able to breathe . These are human circumstances.

In those cases, I'm sure the perpetrators honestly believed that they were justified but that doesn't make it ok.

Kevin - never did say that it was okay. I don't think it was okay, as specified by the part about not condoning it. Everything that I posit is for the people who claim that they can't understand how this could have happened, or feel any measure of empathy for everyone involved in something so damn tragic. I say if you can't understand, then you don't understand the human nature very well.

Ugh. The whole situation's just more sad than I care to contemplate any more.
posted by precocious at 4:23 PM on August 1, 2002


Precocious, hello yourself, love.
Aside from the fact that you are making some pretty large assumptions about how well the cold blooded murderers knew the people who had been hit, you pretty much make my point for me. Even if you allow they had an excuse, which they didn't, how can seemingly rational people sit at a computer having had no link to the event and say they would do the same. That, my friend is barbarism.
Even if they believed the people to be dead, does that condone murder, no one knows why that van went onto the pavement, you say you don't condone it but with your every utterance you do. Whether or not a person has full reasoning ability, beating people until they die, is a mite excessive. There is no excuse for what those guys did and to say otherwise is chuffin warped, old bean.
posted by Fat Buddha at 5:00 PM on August 1, 2002


First off, lots of folks called 911 from the neighborhood. This isn't a Kitty Genovese situation here. And the owner of the house where the 3 women were congregating described the killers like this: "They had to be under the influence of drugs...Something had to be wrong with them to do something like this." Another local described the attackers as "hot people. They've got attitudes."

More info from a local columnist who worked the neighborhood for comments:

From what I can see, it's not as if the entire block swept into the streets to take revenge on the reckless drivers. What seems to have happened is that the killers were part of the crowd already congregated near the accident scene and that one of them flew into a rage and was joined by others.

The large "mob" that quickly gathered at the scene was mostly curiosity-seekers who didn't seem to take a rooting interest in the outcome, most of them watching quietly as the two men in the van were pulled from it and stoned with bricks and other debris broken loose by the collision. Only a few of the onlookers egged them on. It was over so fast that it was scary, one lady told me.


Looks to me like some unemployed crackheads reacted in violent fury to a horrible drunken accident, and that the neighbors -- already probably scared of the killers -- did whatever they could to get the cops there quickly. That's a provisional take, of course, but it beats most of the ones I've read in this thread so far.


posted by mediareport at 5:17 PM on August 1, 2002


Aside from the fact that you are making some pretty large assumptions about how well the cold blooded murderers knew the people who had been hit, you pretty much make my point for me.

It's an even larger assumption that this murder was "cold blooded" (which implies deliberation on the act before it was committed), as opposed to "hot blooded" (in other words, an act of passion and/or temporary insanity). The mob didn't trail the two drivers back home after they'd hit the girls. They didn't scheme on how best to kill them outside the courthouse on trial day.

It's obvious there was no plan to kill these men. If you'd rather believe that that entire neighborhood of people is filled with heartless murderers, well, there's nothing anyone can do to change that. I pose a much more likely scenario that, while in no way condoning the act, doesn't neatly explain away what happened.

That two men who were (quite possibly) innocent and undeserving of this kind of crime are dead seems to bring out the immediate tendency to 1) look for blame to place, and 2) discount other factors which--while not justifying the act--would break it down into more than black and white.

It's not the popular view, but I feel it deserves contemplation.
posted by precocious at 5:25 PM on August 1, 2002


Jeeze, what a schizoid society!
The land that gave the world 'rights' & 'constitutions' reverting to the law of the jungle.
Due process, anyone?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:57 PM on August 1, 2002


This entire story and thread can be summed up quite easily.

A great number of people are violent hormone driven morons.

That's not news to me.
posted by wackybrit at 6:00 PM on August 1, 2002


It's interesting how few people would allow for the possibility that the driver had a stroke or heart attack, or lost control while trying not to hit someone in the street...
posted by troybob at 6:08 PM on August 1, 2002


A great number of people are violent hormone driven morons.

Huh. I'm reading it as "A small minority of violent people is all it takes to do great harm."
posted by mediareport at 6:33 PM on August 1, 2002


bad part of Denver (Capitol Hill, Poet's Row

Ive been there. If thats bad Denver, youve got it good.
posted by stbalbach at 6:58 PM on August 1, 2002


I think precocious is right on the money.

One of the most horrifying things about murder and brutality is not that it's so difficult to do, but that it's so *easy*, given the right circumstances.

Anger flashes hot, you want to hit something, break something, and once you start, it's very, very hard to stop.

Think of who and what we evolved from. The lizard brain we all carry around in our heads is a lot more powerful than we give it credit for, and it will lead us to kill when provoked by the right flush of hormones.

And for the people who aren't picking up on the clue that some of us are analyzing and explaining without justifying: it's not *right* what they did, clearly, but it makes *sense* if you consider that humans are not entirely rational beings.

We are wired to kill to survive, and when circumstances arise that arouse our killing instincts, we kill. With bare hands and rocks if that's all we have at hand.

Also consider the interesting things that happen when you're talking about a crowd of attackers, with eggers-on included. Does the name Reginald Denny ring a bell? Mob mentality is an ugly thing that we don't fully understand yet.

I believe that understanding how it works is the only hope for figuring out how best to counteract it (and hopefully prevent it). Blanket condemnation and punishment of the perpetrators only goes so far - it doesn't really stop this kind of thing from happening in the future, since it doesn't analyze the true cause, which is beyond rationality and consideration of consequences.
posted by beth at 6:59 PM on August 1, 2002


once you start, it's very, very hard to stop.

Yes. For people who have no sense of right and wrong, this is true.

Think of who and what we evolved from. The lizard brain we all carry around in our heads is a lot more powerful than we give it credit for, and it will lead us to kill when provoked by the right flush of hormones.

Really now? How so? I've been alive for 38 years and been in some tragically volitile situations and wanted to kill but never did. What separates them from me?

...but it makes *sense* if you consider that humans are not entirely rational beings.

Ah but we are. At the risk of going all Psych 101, that's what separates us from other animals. The fact that these murderers couldn't string a pair of synapses together, stop and reconsider the consequences, tells me that they didn't make the cut.

I really want to understand people who would kill on a whim but I also want them to suffer the consequences of their actions.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:19 PM on August 1, 2002


I've been alive for 38 years and been in some tragically volitile situations and wanted to kill but never did. What separates them from me?

You're on the high end of the self-control bell curve, basically. They are on the other side.

The hell of it is, you don't know how you'll react until you're in a situation where it might become necessary to do something.
posted by kindall at 7:57 PM on August 1, 2002


Enough of the what is civilization coming to & what separates them from us?stuff

See Bertolt Becht's What Keeps Mankind ALive?

--Bestial Acts

An isolated unique event does not the portend anything. Be surprised that it doesn't happen more often, given human nature. It's a hand wringing made for TV news pundit editorializing soap opera--if it happens 2 or 3 times, then it's a trend. Otherwise, it's a singular unique Tch! Tch! Making Our Civilized Selves Right By Making Them Wrong mass back patting event.
posted by y2karl at 8:23 PM on August 1, 2002


B'oh! Ok, Bertolt Brecht's & Kurt Weill's What Keeps Mankind Alive?

blew the link as well as the name...

What keeps mankind alive, the fact that millions
Are daily tortured, stifled, punished, silenced, oppressed
Mankind can keep alive, thanks to its brilliance
At keeping its humanity repressed
For once, you must not try to shirk the facts:
Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts.

posted by y2karl at 8:27 PM on August 1, 2002


kindall has it exactly. People are calibrated differently - some of us are more predisposed to losing control, to being more aggressive, to being taller, to being more coordinated, whatever.

Some of this is genetic, some of it is laid down through experience and practice. (The proportion of how much of one or the other is under debate in all sorts of circles, and probably ever will be).

Another angle I thought of is this: for every thousand times people are confronted with situations in which they might fly off the handle and start a fight, in a significant number of these cases their friends, or their conscience, or another person (cop, bouncer, etc) stops them from continuing to the point of murder. Sometimes the only punches thrown hit air, even. Sometimes it's only harsh words, or just fantasies of violence in the aggressor's head.

We hear a *lot* more about the cases where serious injuries and death occur. It would be a good thing to learn what went right (or at least better) in the cases where all-out homicide was forestalled.
posted by beth at 9:10 PM on August 1, 2002


Despite all that is written above, I can't help thinking "why didn't someone jump in to stop this?" What is it with people that they will stand and watch someone beaten to death without lifting a finger?

Having been taken to task here once before for suggesting similar, I am somewhat reluctant to expose myself again, but I feel that those who stood and watched (or worse) are almost as much to blame as those who did the deed. As for the driver, there is no evidence yet that he is anything other than a tragic victim himself, perhaps of circumstances, perhaps of faulty steering (how many of you have driven a rental van?). How are those who killed in hot blood going to feel if it turns out that a broken tie-rod was to blame, not the driver? In slightly different circumstances, this link could describe a hero who battled a runaway van to try and save the life of three women.
posted by dg at 9:28 PM on August 1, 2002



People are calibrated differently - some of us are more predisposed to losing control, to being more aggressive, to being taller, to being more coordinated, whatever.

Either you hold people responsible for their actions, despite their predispositions, or you preemptively lock them up so they can't harm others. I would prefer the former.
posted by electro at 9:48 PM on August 1, 2002


The article stated that the van made a "drastic and improper U-turn" just before hitting the building, perhaps giving more credence to the tragic accident scenario - why would the driver be deliberately doing a u-turn on a one-way street?
posted by dg at 9:49 PM on August 1, 2002


To quote Principal Skinner, there's no justice like angry-mob justice.
posted by sillygwailo at 11:35 PM on August 1, 2002


why would the driver be deliberately doing a u-turn on a one-way street?

It turns out that both driver and passanger were somewhat drunk. The driver just over the legal limit, the passenger just under. That could be why.
posted by thirteen at 12:03 AM on August 2, 2002


I saw an accident on Stoney Island on the far south side. The guy who caused it jumped out with a bat and beat the guy he hit presumably to death. 3 swings. That was something I was not going to have anything to do with. Fucker was huge and mean, and I was a young teen looking to grow older.
posted by thirteen at 12:07 AM on August 2, 2002


Lovely, we now have death by summary justice for drunk driving, when do we start stoning adulterers?
Precocious, do you keep missing my point deliberately in an effort to wind me up? At what point have I said that the entire neighbourhood is filled with heartless murderers. The actual murderers are murderers and behaved in a way that cannot be condoned in a civilised society. The justice of the mob is not justice, revenge is not justice. These killers used undue force because they are murderous bastards who probably believed at the time that they could act with impunity. I hope they are caught and I hope they get the severe punishment they deserve.
< we are wired to kill to survive, and when circumstances arise that arouse our killing instincts, we kill. with bare hands and rocks if that's all we have at hand> I would hesitate before describing the circumstances that led to this in such stark terms. The cold blooded killers were hardly in peril.
posted by Fat Buddha at 12:46 AM on August 2, 2002


At what point have I said that the entire neighbourhood is filled with heartless murderers. The actual murderers are murderers ...

But you know, while I can probably forgive people for not doing anything at the moment, to not assist the police in finding the murderers does make them just as guilty in my eyes.
posted by Orb at 12:52 AM on August 2, 2002


... both driver and passenger were somewhat drunk. ... That could be why.

Yes, it could be (I won't ask for a source). I was trying to avoid assuming something along these lines. So the basic fault can be placed on the driver, but it is hardly a fitting punishment to die a brutal death at the hands of a mob.

... Fucker was huge and mean, and I was a young teen looking to grow older.

In that situation, you could not be expected to do much. That is very different, however, to a large group of people standing around watching a much smaller group beat two people to death.

... to not assist the police in finding the murderers does make them just as guilty in my eyes.

More guilty in my opinion - I can to some extent understand people being too scared to intervene at the time, but to block the police investigations is inexcusable. Sort of like the difference between killing in hot blood and premeditated murder.
posted by dg at 1:28 AM on August 2, 2002


Humans have the ability to transcend animal instict. By brutally killing someone in such a spontaenous, thoughtless way -- frankly, by acting on the instinct for revenge -- those who committed the crime all but rescinded their humanity. It's barbaric and foul, and the perpetrators have no excuse.
posted by Marquis at 6:41 AM on August 2, 2002


Yes, it could be (I won't ask for a source).
I only heard it on the news and local NPR. I assumed it would be easy to confirm.

That is very different, however, to a large group of people standing around watching a much smaller group beat two people to death.

There was a traffic jam caused by this accident, and there were many people standing around. Nobody was going to touch this guy. It probably was a very similar situation. I think the heat makes people crazy. Too damn hot.

More guilty in my opinion - I can to some extent understand people being too scared to intervene at the time, but to block the police investigations is inexcusable.
I imagine it could also be that the police are not very popular with many people in town. Something like this I would probably cooperate since I cannot see any reason why not, but I personally consider the police so useless that I will never call them again unless I figure I will be punished for not doing so (by my insurance company or unjust law). This is not even counting that there could be concequences for talking that we are unaware of. I can see plenty of reason why nobody is talking.
posted by thirteen at 7:53 AM on August 2, 2002


Huge van, little easily broken people-- it's logical and possible that the first thought was that they were already dead. "Stopping to check out whether or not they were okay," is what a person with full reasoning ability would do. You can't expect a person either panicking or enraged to do what a person with full reasoning ability would even find it difficult to do.

That's ridiculous. If you see a loved one crushed under a van, you might just *assume* they're dead? I don't think logic or reason have anything to do with it...I would think lots of people's initial reactions would be to see if the injured are ok and to try to un-pin them from under the van.
posted by catfood at 8:02 AM on August 2, 2002


i live in an up and coming gentrified area of chicago on the north side of the city (wicker park). people always seem quick to judge the south side as somehow more violent and less safe than the north side of the city. crimes that take place on the south side of the city are more likely to be reported in the local media than crimes that occur on the north side of the city. i'm sure there are many reasons for this.
after comparing my neighborhood with the area where this crime took place on Citizen Icam, a search tool on crime statistics in chicago neighborhoods, i've determined that the area of 3983 S. Lake Park Ave. had less crime (at least for the period between 07/13 to 07/26) than did my neighborhood (wicker park) during the same period of time. a 1/4th mile radius search of crimes that took place around 3983 S. Lake Park Ave shows 1 OFFENSE INVOLVING CHILDREN, 1 HOMICIDE , 2 THEFT, 1 MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT, 1 BURGLARY, 1 CRIMINAL DAMAGE, 1 ARSON, 1 BATTERY, and 1 ASSAULT. compared to my neighborhood which had 1 OTHER CRIMINAL OFFENSES, 2 BATTERY, 1 ROBBERY, 4 BURGLARY, 7 THEFT, 1 ARSON, 2 CRIMINAL DAMAGE, 1 MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT, 1 LIQUOR LAW VIOLATION , 1 TELEPHONE THREATS, and 1 CRIMINAL DAMAGE. the south side seems a little more safe than the local media would have you believe.

i'd be curious to know the crime statistics for other chicago me-fites locations compared to the south side. Citizen Icam is an invaluable tool for finding out about chicago neighborhoods.

*disclaimers: i realize that a comparison of crimes taking place in the span of 13 days does not yield enough information to judge one area as being more or less safe than any other area. sorry about all the caps - i copied and pasted the crimes instead of re-typing them.
posted by alicila at 10:32 AM on August 2, 2002


That is very different, however, to a large group of people standing around watching a much smaller group beat two people to death.

I agree with thirteen; simply not v. surprising no one tried to stop them. Would you want to be the one person who steps in? Y'might suppose that others will back you, but can't possibly be certain. And if the deal is one nasty big guy... or a melee of up to five violent-prone types... It's easier to choose inaction than action. Easier still to let it be someone else's responsibility, whether taken up by those duly appointed for that task, or by no one at all.

Also surprised that more haven't said their first thought would be for the injured; strongly suspect mine would. (Odd thought: Wonder if there's a m/f breakdown on that?) Unfortunately, I suspect there's not much that could effectively be done about such situations (necessary societal response will not necessarily solve the problem, or even the symptoms thereof), until we've grown as a people. Long process, that.
posted by e^2 at 8:42 PM on August 2, 2002


I am not surprised either that no-one jumped in to help - just dissapointed. I guess it is easy to say that I would be brave enough to do the right thing, but there is no way of really knowing until it happens. Still, a pretty sad commentary on society that, out of such a large crowd, there was not one person prepared to help. I am positive that, were this to happen here, the situation would be different.

This is not the first thread I have seen where those commenting seemed to consider it normal (and even the right thing to do) to stand by and do nothing about violence. Last time, I suggested this, but that is probably too drastic.

... I personally consider the police so useless that I will never call them again unless I figure I will be punished for not doing so...

Again, a sad commentary on society, at least in the US. Is this an attitude that is widespread, or limited to certain areas/cities?
posted by dg at 5:14 AM on August 3, 2002


"Is this an attitude that is widespread, or limited to certain areas/cities?"

I'm pretty sure it's limited to certain areas. I've never hesitated to call the police when I thought their presence was required (and I've usually been satisfied with their response), but I still live in the 1970's. (Utah)
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:26 AM on August 3, 2002


dg, I have to respectfully disagree with crash and say it's fairly widespread. The police are called and more or less trusted in wealthy and upper-income suburban areas. Police incompetence, corruption, and misuse of power is so prevalent, and has gotten so much media exposure in the past 15 years, that there are a lot of people, including myself, who tend to think that calling the police into many situations is likely to either be useless, or make the situation worse.
posted by bingo at 1:50 PM on August 3, 2002


Seven Charged with Murder in Chicago Mob Beatings - Reuters
posted by y2karl at 2:12 PM on August 3, 2002


y2karl: At the risk of nitpicking, that article says that in fact they have not been charged with anything at this point...the police are asking the DA to charge them.
posted by bingo at 2:24 PM on August 3, 2002


click on Reuters above.
posted by y2karl at 2:27 PM on August 3, 2002


ok...i guess you're right...though the link you posted that included the word "charged" was to an article that said they hadn't been charged yet. I thought you were saying that the article came from reuters...didn't even occur to me that there was another link there.
posted by bingo at 4:47 PM on August 3, 2002


It was Reuter's headline but then I looked around and found the Trib link, thought Reuter's headline was sexier and used the headline for the Trib's story, added the original Reuters link and, oh, you know, my bad.
posted by y2karl at 5:37 PM on August 3, 2002


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