Join 3,418 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Right place, right time
October 4, 2009 6:53 PM   Subscribe

Photographer captures citizens' arrest of alleged purse-snatcher (video, slight graphic violence)
posted by desjardins (174 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thank you, Chicago Tribune, for allowing me this opportunity to gaze upon real crime and bloody street combat from the safety of my suburban home. Were it not for you and your cellphone wielding citizen-journalists, I would only have my inchoate prejudices and fictional representations on which to base my fear of young black men. But now, through the magic of technology, I can base my prejudice on actual, photographic fact which I have absorbed without ever experiencing danger myself.

These are amazing days, my friends. Amazing days.
posted by felix betachat at 7:03 PM on October 4, 2009 [13 favorites]


Wow, I never thought I'd pine for the days of simple, quick and easy-to-use Flash interfaces to photography sets...
posted by DU at 7:06 PM on October 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


Placing a forearm across my neck typically makes me calm down. I'd probably have let the guy run for fear of blood born disease and legal liability.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:09 PM on October 4, 2009


Somewhere in Chicago, there's a plaintiff's attorney just trembling with excitement at the prospect of representing that guy as he sues the snot out of the people who were holding him.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:18 PM on October 4, 2009


Nice pants, dude.
posted by adipocere at 7:20 PM on October 4, 2009


I like how the guy in the red sweater seems really uninterested in the whole situation.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:21 PM on October 4, 2009


Yeah, I..um...don't want to touch a bloody shirtless dude in the street.

Nice action shot where the shoe is flying after the kick, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:25 PM on October 4, 2009


That kid just isn't putting up with the bite attempt and boots the guy in the stomach so hard his shoe flies off. I feel a meme brewing...
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:25 PM on October 4, 2009


No offence ment desjardins, but this doesn't seem like a very good post for the front page. I'm sure that nothing good can come from it.
posted by nola at 7:26 PM on October 4, 2009


Forget it, Jake.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:26 PM on October 4, 2009 [15 favorites]


Police Brutality℠--It's not just for police anymore!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:27 PM on October 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Forget it, Jake.

It's low-hanging fruit town?
posted by felix betachat at 7:34 PM on October 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Minor: "some gal?"
posted by Morrigan at 7:47 PM on October 4, 2009


Were it not for you and your cellphone wielding citizen-journalists, I would only have my inchoate prejudices and fictional representations on which to base my fear of young black men. But now, through the magic of technology, I can base my prejudice on actual, photographic fact which I have absorbed without ever experiencing danger myself.

the incident is what it is - what prejudices YOU take out of it are YOUR responsibility
posted by pyramid termite at 7:54 PM on October 4, 2009 [35 favorites]


Clearly the best part is when he says "nobody slammed his head on the car" accompanied by a picture of his head being held down on the hood of a car with streams of blood running over the headlight.
posted by dead cousin ted at 7:54 PM on October 4, 2009 [11 favorites]


According to Bill Cosby, shouldn't the suspect have some pound cake in his hand?
posted by fleetmouse at 8:05 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


felix betachat, I have been trying to parse your first comment, and I just can't get your meaning. Do you think that the Tribune published the essay BECAUSE the guy was black? Do you think they would not have published it if the races were reversed? The victim was not white, is that relevant or not? I understand that young black men are often portrayed as dangerous criminals, but this thing happened, and was photographed - do you think we should not view it/publish it because the alleged perpetrator was black?

your cellphone wielding citizen-journalists

This guy was a professional photojournalist who happened to be in the area.
posted by desjardins at 8:12 PM on October 4, 2009 [13 favorites]


The point is, he had it coming.
posted by ghastlyfop at 8:13 PM on October 4, 2009


Ugh, why did they have to make this a video. I'm so fucking annoyed at all the unnecessary videos online these days. Like why the fuck do I need to watch a 5 minute video to see some pictures. It would have taken me two minutes to read this.

Also, what kind of camera does this guy have that he can't take a video? They ended up making a video out of his pictures anyway.
posted by delmoi at 8:15 PM on October 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have a hard time mustering up outrage in this case.

(And the shot of his head on the car is not proof that they slammed his head on the car; the blood was coming from his nose, probably busted when the Asian guy hit him with his forearm.)
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:16 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Performing a citizen's arrest is a very legally dangerous thing to do, since (as pointed out above) not only does it open you up to civil lawsuits, but you can also be reasonably prosecuted for battery and kidnapping if you nab the wrong guy or if it's just a big misunderstanding.

It would be nice if we lived in a world where the Good Guys and Bad Guys are clearly delineated and that governmental immunity could be applied to all actions taken in good faith. Sadly, that's not the world we live in and I would personally recommend that MeFites think twice before wrestling some guy to the ground because somebody else was chasing him.
posted by Avenger at 8:17 PM on October 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


Also, what kind of camera does this guy have that he can't take a video? They ended up making a video out of his pictures anyway.

I don't know one way or another, but I suspect he was more interested in getting "the shot" than anything else so he didn't switch the dial over to video mode.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:19 PM on October 4, 2009


Do you think that the Tribune published the essay BECAUSE the guy was black?

I think felix actually missed the real bias underlying the publication of these pictures. They were published because the guy delivering swift street justice was Asian, and they're trying to perpetuate the stereotype of Asian dudes as high-kicking badasses.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:20 PM on October 4, 2009 [11 favorites]


I thought the real stereotype was the white guy in the DAD sweatshirt. I literally rolled my eyes when I saw it.
posted by desjardins at 8:24 PM on October 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


The good samaritans put themselves at a lot of risk trying to hold someone for so long. Response time could have been much worse, and the dude looked wiry. Imagine college wrestling, in street clothes, with someone who's not playing by the rules, for two or three times the length of a good match. I'm sweaty just thinking about it.

The only way I'd try a citizen's arrest (assuming the crime wasn't against someone I knew) would be with duct tape and zip ties on hand.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:26 PM on October 4, 2009


I thought the real stereotype was the white guy in the DAD sweatshirt. I literally rolled my eyes when I saw it.

If you look at the first frame of the slideshow, there's a Velcro (?) tag over it that says "Cletus" for whatever reason. I wish I were making this up.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:28 PM on October 4, 2009


I'm sweaty just thinking about it.

Let me rephrase that...
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:29 PM on October 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


Needs a FARK tag
posted by KokuRyu at 8:29 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


do you think we should not view it/publish it because the alleged perpetrator was black?

Frankly, and given what we've been seeing out of Chicago lately, yeah. I think we could do with one less photo essay of wild eyed, bloodied and half-naked black men being restrained by heroic white and asian dudes. What would we have lost if an editor had said, "wow, guys, this one is in poor taste. let's kill it and go get a beer."

I mean, for fuck's sake, this is a poor black kid snatching a purse. How is that news? The only news here is that a guy happened to snap some sensationalistic shots that will drive traffic to the Tribune's webpage in a down time for print journalism. There is no high principle at work here and only a naïf would think otherwise.

Do you think they would not have published it if the races were reversed?

Given that the Tribune is not falling all over itself to get photojournalists into the smoke filled rooms at the banks, brokerage houses and corporate boardrooms where white collar, white skinned criminals are, at this very moment, engaged in theft on a scale that makes a poor mockery of that kid's crime, then, yes, I don't think they would not have published the photos if the races were reversed.
posted by felix betachat at 8:31 PM on October 4, 2009 [16 favorites]


aaaugh, somebody please bruce lee the shit out of my double negative
posted by felix betachat at 8:32 PM on October 4, 2009


The point is, he had it coming.

We all got it coming, kid.

posted by KokuRyu at 8:33 PM on October 4, 2009


This confirms my previously unsubstantiated suspicion that Chicago is just generally a much nicer city than New York, a place where people steal your purses and then other people punch them in the neck for doing so.
posted by zoomorphic at 8:33 PM on October 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


The guy is pretty obviously Hispanic, not black. Important distinction in "if you're white you're all right, if you're brown stick around, if you're black go back to Africa" Chicago. In Chicago there's black and "other." Asians and Hispanics are honourary whites.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:37 PM on October 4, 2009


I witnessed a purse-snatching today, at a cafe. But it had already deteriorated into three women wrestling each other, and I was confused as to who had robbed who, so I just watched.
posted by mek at 8:39 PM on October 4, 2009


Given that the Tribune is not falling all over itself to get photojournalists into the smoke filled rooms at the banks, brokerage houses and corporate boardrooms where white collar, white skinned criminals are, at this very moment, engaged in theft on a scale that makes a poor mockery of that kid's crime

so what would they take a picture of, some guy talking on a telephone as he moved a mouse around?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:46 PM on October 4, 2009 [12 favorites]


Wow. I knew that if I clicked into this one, I'd find Mefi leftist, overly intellectualized smarm all over the place. And I was right!
posted by yazi at 8:49 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


So samaritans seem to kick more shit these days.
posted by schwa at 8:54 PM on October 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I witnessed a purse-snatching today, at a cafe. But it had already deteriorated into three women wrestling each other, and I was confused as to who had robbed who, so I just watched.

Did you consider punching some of them in the neck to calm them down?
posted by albrecht at 8:56 PM on October 4, 2009 [10 favorites]


felix betachat, are you saying that non-black criminals are non-violent white-collar thieves but the only thing to be found outdoors are minorities, or what?

That whole thing makes no sense to me and is making me feel pretty uncomfortable. You don't think white people steal purses?
posted by floam at 8:59 PM on October 4, 2009


My name's Cletus. Cletus motherfuckin' Spuckler.
posted by phaedon at 9:09 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


are you saying that non-black criminals are non-violent white-collar thieves but the only thing to be found outdoors are minorities...

You don't think white people steal purses?


Um, no. That isn't what I was saying at all. But thanks for sharing your discomfort with what you thought I said.

The Tribune is (again) publishing racially charged images of absolutely irrelevant petty street crime in order to drive traffic to their website. They serve up the imagery that suburban white republicans like to consume to convince themselves they've made the right decision by paying a metric fuckload of money to live in Lake Forest where things are safe. In the process, they are perpetuating damaging and inaccurate racial stereotypes that have the salient effect of diminishing the quality of life of black people who live in the city.

Doing this, the Tribune is neglecting its journalistic responsibility to report on actual and meaningful cases of large-scale corporate fraud and white-collar crime connected with the current meltdown in our economy. They do this because they, like most of their ilk, do not consider this newsworthy. In part this is because the perpitrators are wealthy. And in part it is because the perpitrators are white.

I hope that tedious explanation makes you less comfortable.

Oh, and yazi, I have no idea who the hell you are and I'm sorry that you seem to have stumbled here on your way to Fark or LGF or whatever smug den of auto-fellatio you typically frequent.
posted by felix betachat at 9:10 PM on October 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Passerbys"?

Where is Zombie William Safire when you need him?
posted by naoko at 9:10 PM on October 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Clearly the best part is when he says "nobody slammed his head on the car" accompanied by a picture of his head being held down on the hood of a car with streams of blood running over the headlight.

80% the interview was similar ass-covering.

"We want to publish these photos but we certainly don't want the good guys getting in trouble here". It's good that he kept on repeating it, but and the same time it made his story a little long winded and boring.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:13 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Give me one photo and a pithy description if it has to receive coverage at all.

This is Cops with a photostream.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:17 PM on October 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


The guy is pretty obviously Hispanic, not black. Important distinction in "if you're white you're all right, if you're brown stick around, if you're black go back to Africa" Chicago. In Chicago there's black and "other." Asians and Hispanics are honourary whites.

Sure, everyone knows if you want the low-down on ethnic dynamics in Chicago, ask someone from Calgary. Because it certainly isn't the case that you could be both Hispanic and black.
posted by delmoi at 9:22 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Doing this, the Tribune is neglecting its journalistic responsibility to report on actual and meaningful cases of large-scale corporate fraud and white-collar crime connected with the current meltdown in our economy.

So, until the last large-scale fraud that is ravaging our nation and world is wiped out by the crusading actions of journalists, not one iota of street robbery or burglary should be reported?

You know, they could report on both.
posted by lalochezia at 9:23 PM on October 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


Sorry, but that was terrible.

I saw the jokes here, and I thought it was going to be something silly or ridiculous, but it really looked like the tall guy just held the no shirt guy while two other guys and a woman just beat him up. And the photo of the woman, with a fist full of his hair, jerking him around, laughing, while blood streams down his face? WTF is that?

I'd like to citizen's arrest those four people, for beating the hell out of some guy who may or may not have taken a purse. It's cheap leather and a bunch of replaceable crap, it isn't worth all this, jesus.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:30 PM on October 4, 2009


Well, having just scanned the front page of the Tribune webpage, it looks like corporate fraud got edged out by "ESPN reporter's lawyer blames hotel," "Wanna be a cop?," "Did you see the (almost) kiss?," and "Fenger teen's fatal beating sends shock waves nationwide."

They've really got their hands full over there.

Look, I'm not saying petty crime shouldn't be reported. But what you just viewed was not reportage. It was irresponsible sensationalism.
posted by felix betachat at 9:31 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


And I mean a real citizen's arrest, not a savage group beating.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:31 PM on October 4, 2009


And the photo of the woman, with a fist full of his hair, jerking him around, laughing, while blood streams down his face?

She's not laughing.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:41 PM on October 4, 2009


That is right around the corner from my friend's apartment!!
posted by halonine at 9:42 PM on October 4, 2009


So Felix, do you mind giving some examples of how the Tribune is "publishing racially charged images of absolutely irrelevant petty street crime in order to drive traffic to their website?" There's a lot of us here that apparently don't have your level of investment in the editorial decisions of the Chicago Tribune, for one reason or another.

Also, does nobody else see this as a fascinating insight into the photojournalistic process? There's a pretty good number of compelling shots in that series. But, like they say - right place, right time.
posted by god hates math at 9:43 PM on October 4, 2009


And the photo of the woman, with a fist full of his hair, jerking him around, laughing, while blood streams down his face? WTF is that?

I thought she might be yelling something at the others; I didn't think she was laughing. They all looked pretty intensely focused.

I agree, though, that a citizen's arrest is a bad idea for something as minor as a purse-snatching, because the amount of force that is predictably necessary if you don't have handcuffs and training is very high, as is seen here.
posted by palliser at 9:44 PM on October 4, 2009


ethnomethodologist: "The guy is pretty obviously Hispanic, not black."

People can be both, or mixed, or light-skinned people who identify (or who are identified by others) as black.
posted by kathrineg at 9:49 PM on October 4, 2009


Not worth it for a purse--for anyone involved. The guy who got bitten--bitten by someone who was "mysteriously" streaming blood--could very well be fucked right now. Blood borne pathogens. HIV is just one of them.

The guy didn't even have her purse on him, did he?

This entire thing is tragic and sickening. Violence is not good.
posted by kathrineg at 9:54 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have no knowledge of what went on here or who may have been the victim but;
"this is a poor black kid snatching a purse. How is that news? "
"of absolutely irrelevant petty street crime"
"It's cheap leather and a bunch of replaceable crap, it isn't worth all this, jesus"

Purse snatching is not a newsworthy crime? It's irrelevant and petty? The contents of a purse is just a bunch of replaceable crap?

I hope people like you are not around when a person you love gets ripped off.

posted by arse_hat at 9:59 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


This thread is boggling my mind. Some asshole snatches an older woman's purse and is chased, caught, and restrained by people putting themselves in danger just trying to help, and suddenly we have evidence of institutional racism and suggestions that the victim is a worse criminal than the mugger.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:59 PM on October 4, 2009 [43 favorites]


Felix, you seem to be super hung up on the fact that the alleged purse snatcher is not white.
You appear to be pissed at the paper for daring to publish these photos because, again, the subject is not white, and that certain types of people might interpret these photos a certain way.

This was news (not GREAT news) because a photographer happened to be there to capture images of what happened. This would be news regardless of the skin colors or races of the participants.

I don't know how slightly interesting photos of a unique situation with the most tedious narration ever becomes "irresponsible sensationalism."

You are reading so far into this that I think somehow you have ended up on the other side of the photos.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:03 PM on October 4, 2009


This thread is boggling my mind. Some asshole snatches an older woman's purse and is chased, caught, and restrained by people putting themselves in danger just trying to help, and suddenly we have evidence of institutional racism and suggestions that the victim is a worse criminal than the mugger.

They knocked that guy around pretty bad. Vigilante justice is pretty brutal, and I'd hate it ift the world were run by people like that.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:03 PM on October 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't give a goddamn what color everyone was, and I don't know why this is such an issue here. If this had been a movie, people would have bitched up a storm that the race-representation was overplayed. Whatever.

I'd have kicked that guy squarely in the balls. I'm so fucking sick of the crime in the past few months in Chicago I was happy to see that story/video, frankly. A guy with a very similar habit shot a couple that lives in my building last weekend, right out front, when the woman wouldn't give up her purse. It's bullshit, and people are only going to put up with so much. What, if the cops aren't around you should just watch crime happen, even if you're confident you can stop it? I wish those guys lived closer to me.

In other news, I'd sort of love to see the rest of the photos that guy didn't include in his little video.
posted by heyho at 10:05 PM on October 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


They knocked that guy around pretty bad. Vigilante justice is pretty brutal, and I'd hate it ift the world were run by people like that.

Repeated for emphasis. The dude had already ditched the goods and was empty handed. This is kind of stupid all around.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:06 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is classic internet commentating. Here we have a shirtless maniac who has STOLEN A WOMAN'S PURSE. Three guys show an enormous amount of restraint in NOT kicking the shit out of him while he bites, kicks and claws at them and yet, somehow, the purse snatcher is a VICTIM OF THE SYSTEM and or STREET JUSTICE.

They guy barely got knocked around. He deserved a lot worse and the kind folks who stopped him risked their own safety in attempting to subdue him in a reasonable manner. Have I lost my mind or is a crime still a crime?
posted by GilloD at 10:07 PM on October 4, 2009 [14 favorites]


The punishment for purse snatching is arrest and jail, and/or probation. The punishment for purse snatching is not assault, it is not being hit on the neck or in the face.
posted by kathrineg at 10:10 PM on October 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


So Felix, do you mind giving some examples of how the Tribune is "publishing racially charged images of absolutely irrelevant petty street crime in order to drive traffic to their website?"

A little light reading for you.

Seriously, this essay could be the Cliffs Notes to the Tribune link. It's a comparative study from 1994 of print vs television representations of blacks and violent crime in Chicago. Money quote:
"Without context, the information conjured up by the different racial images implicitly endorses mistaken assumptions about the relative behavioral tendencies and values of the two racial groups. Even if the reason for any racial differences in news images is that Blacks tend to commit more violent crimes than Whites, it would remain true that the divergent images are conveyed without much explanation. Lacking context, the messages provide grist for unreasoned stereotyping and negative emotions toward Blacks.

Just as important, when we looked only at those accused of crimes associated with violence, the differences persisted, albeit in some instances at a lower level of statistical significance. And similar contrasts show up in the research on local news in other cities that we have cited. Blacks in the news tend to look different from and more dangerous than Whites even when they commit similar crimes."
Not surpisingly, the authors found that representations of black crime were more extreme on television than in print, as befits the sensationalistic nature of the medium. Compared to tv, Chicago's newspapers presented more context and less imagery. But at the same time, they reported more actual violent events and referred more often to governmental attempts to control violence than did the tv. And the newspapers buried local crime stories in the inside pages, which downplayed the significance of the crime.

But look, this was 1994. What you just saw was video representation of black crime on a newspaper website. In 2009, tabloid tv and tabloid journalism are converging media. I'm not going to troll through the back issues of the Tribune to serve up choice instances of the Tribune trafficking in charged racial imagery. I'm not a sociologist and I don't have infinite amounts of time to comment in this thread. I'll just point to the sensationalistic reporting on the Derrion Albert beating. There is a long and troubled history there. If you didn't watch this so-called photo essay and feel a little bit like you were being pandered to or programmed, then you need to take a step back and ask why you aren't more critical of the media you consume.

That was shit reporting. The editor knew that it was shit reporting. And they published it anyway because they knew the page would get linked to and emailed around. Photos of a bunch of white and asian guys beating up a black kid who snatched a purse are not news. They're an occasion to feel a whole bunch of complicated, racially charged emotions that a reputable news outlet in the 21st century has no business trafficking in.
posted by felix betachat at 10:16 PM on October 4, 2009 [12 favorites]


The punishment for purse snatching is arrest and jail, and/or probation

Well, you're one third right.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:16 PM on October 4, 2009


Care to explain what you mean by that?
posted by kathrineg at 10:18 PM on October 4, 2009


I think he means that technically, arrest isn't actually "punishment". This guy received a fair amount of punishment pre-arrest. And not to mention that he's presumed guilty already.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:20 PM on October 4, 2009


uncanny hengeman: She's not laughing.

palliser: I thought she might be yelling something at the others; I didn't think she was laughing. They all looked pretty intensely focused.

Even if she isn't smiling, she is pulling him around by his hair (notice his head in different places and her fingers down to his scalp) because she wants her purse back which he obviously doesn't have on his person, or in his hair.

When the little movie started and it was two guys holding a third guy, I didn't think it was a big deal. When they held him for her to berate him, and make ridiculous demands, and then be beaten by herself and some fourth guy who decided to come beat on him, no, they are all in the wrong, and purse-snatching was the least offensive crime to happen in this story.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:27 PM on October 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Heh, from what I've seen of arrest it is punishment (more or less harsh depending on the situation and the people involved). Not in the legal sense, but in the sense of an unpleasant stimulus applied to curb unwanted behavior.
posted by kathrineg at 10:28 PM on October 4, 2009


Sorry, I hope that didn't sound feisty and defensive. She may not have been laughing, or she may have been, but either way, the way the situation went it wass ridiculous and obscene.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:28 PM on October 4, 2009


Oh preview, what Burhanistan said, but anyhoo:

Arrest is technically not a punishment (Though a lot of police apprehensions are, unfortunately, violent, with the arrested on the receiving end), and compared to the punishment of incarceration, probation is no sort of punishment at all.

It's sort of annoying that many folks are dismissing the alleged theft as 'just a purse snatching', as though most of them are as simple as sliding the strap off the victim's shoulder and sauntering off - in many cases, that sort of crime involves assault, and at the very least, a serious amount of intimidation.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:37 PM on October 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obviously what we need based on the commentary here is legislation to protect muggers and purse snatchers. Say, make it a felony to do anything to resist street crime. I mean, won't ANYONE think of the poor, downtrodden street criminals?

Or maybe we could start up a donation campaign for street criminals. Have a picture of a sad, big-eyed purse snatcher or mugger, and text allowing you, for just dollars a day, to support your own petty criminal. "Jack hasn't been able to successfully mug a middle-aged woman for weeks. But your tax-deductible donation will buy him enough food and meth that he'll be able to resume his native way of life."
posted by happyroach at 10:40 PM on October 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think people are getting too hung up over the fact that it was ordinary citizens who popped him in the mouth. The guy is biting and kicking and doing everything he can to escape... if you substituted those three bystanders with a couple of cops does anyone think the perp emerges unscathed? That's not an argument for police brutality but merely an acknowledgment that using violence to attempt to escape confinement usually results in reciprocal violence. Duh.
posted by squeakyfromme at 10:40 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you don't think probation is punishment enough, feel free to lobby your lawmakers, but that's the punishment that we generally agree upon as a society. Again, being hit in the neck and probably the nose, pulled by the hair, none of these things are the sanctioned punishment for purse snatching. Self-defense is one thing, this was not self-defense.
posted by kathrineg at 10:41 PM on October 4, 2009


in many cases, that sort of crime involves assault, and at the very least, a serious amount of intimidation

Well, thank God it turned out all right in the end, then, huh? That crazy black guy got the living shit beaten out of him by the asian lady and her good samaritans. I mean, fuck man, did you see the blood running down the front of the car? That'll show his seriously intimidating ass for engaging in a minor property crime.

I just wish we could have seen video of the black guy getting his ass tased. That would have been so fucking cool.

Oh, and proportional. It would also have been so fucking proportional.
posted by felix betachat at 10:42 PM on October 4, 2009


happyroach: "Obviously what we need based on the commentary here is legislation to protect muggers and purse snatchers. Say, make it a felony to do anything to resist street crime. I mean, won't ANYONE think of the poor, downtrodden street criminals?"

Nice strawman.
posted by kathrineg at 10:44 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


happyroach: "But your tax-deductible donation will buy him enough food and meth that he'll be able to resume his native way of life.""

Please, like anyone needs meth AND food.
posted by kathrineg at 10:45 PM on October 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


When they held him for her to berate him and make ridiculous demands

This thread keeps on getting funnier.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:50 PM on October 4, 2009


What this thread needs is a hug -- or, similarly, a little timeout to review the eel slap thread.
posted by heyho at 10:52 PM on October 4, 2009


Really having a hard time dealing with this thread. This is a community that gets the collective vapors when mildly ironic language is used to represent women or gays. But serve up some violent imagery with a black & white narrative frame (literally and ethically) and everyone is suddenly red meat, law & order and lock the fuckers up.

I'll say it again. If you didn't see that imagery of a black kid getting the shit beaten out of him and feel even a twinge of sympathy, then there is something broken in you. We don't bless vigilante justice in this country and we don't inflict violent punishments on people for property crimes. And that we love to represent this kind of racial violence in our media is to our collective shame.

Gonna go to bed now. Hopefully by the time I've checked in in the morning, a few more people with a functioning moral sense will have dropped by. You folks need a reality check.
posted by felix betachat at 10:52 PM on October 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


The nerve of that asian lady, getting upset for being allegedly robbed*. Too bad you weren't there to tell the asian lady that it was just a minor property crime, it probably would have made the rest of her day swell.

*No one's been convicted here felix, so you may want to watch your wording. Also - and this is totally quibbling, and certainly doesn't mitigate the actions of the vigilantes/samaritans - but if that looks like someone getting the shit kicked out of them, then you probably haven't seen someone get the shit kicked out of them. You're getting kind of sloppy in your effort to get your point across.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:56 PM on October 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


"but if that looks like someone getting the shit kicked out of them, then you probably haven't seen someone get the shit kicked out of them"

Hear hear. The guy got a bloody lip, big whoop. He wouldn't even have that if he wasn't fighting back violently. I really think some of you are greatly oversimplifying the sequence of events as well as the motives of individual actions to make some arch-liberal point. A few points of my own:

1) Two bystanders see a man fleeing down the street, presumably with the Asian woman running after him. The beginning is where the story is a bit fuzzy but I can't really imagine another scenario where the bystanders felt the need to intercept him, unless we're seriously painting this as some sort of premeditated lynching (figuratively many of you already have).

2) The detainee is struggling to break the grip of the bystanders, so a third guy steps in to help. In the course of it all the detainee bites the shit out of the third bystander, who probably does give him a little tomahawk as much out of anger as a desire to incapacitate; same with the Asian lady pulling the guy's hair, but even if the latter duo's actions were somewhat unnecessary, it hardly qualifies as a brutal, mafia style beat down. I mean, last I checked there were a couple retaliatory blows and some hair pulling, and yes, the blows did cause some blood flow, but for crissake does anyone realize how little it takes to bloody a lip or nose? Also even if you want to rake the two Asians over the coals for their actions I don't think the original two bystanders were out of line at all.

The bottom line is he was going to violently resist detainment whether it was two average joes that grabbed him or two cops. If it were cops instead of plain clothes citizens he probably would have been pepper sprayed, choked with a nightstick and if that didn't work tased to the floor. So again I ask: under what circumstances given the information at hand do any of you expect the guy to walk away without so much as a scuff mark on his sneakers? Seriously, I'm willing to listen to alternate scenarios where the guy is allowed to behave as he did and not get roughed up a bit but personally I can't think of any.
posted by squeakyfromme at 11:31 PM on October 4, 2009 [11 favorites]


I agree, though, that a citizen's arrest is a bad idea for something as minor as a purse-snatching, because the amount of force that is predictably necessary if you don't have handcuffs and training is very high, as is seen here.

I disagree. Especially since the woman offered him money first, but he decided to take the purse and cellphone. I think if someone was going to steal my wallet, with all my shit and my cellphone I would be pretty angry, and probably want to beat the crap out of them. I'm not saying that beating the crap out of people is good, just that I'm sure I would want to do it if it happened to me. On the other hand if I were the "bystander" who grabbed the guy I would probably not want the victim kicking and pulling his hair.

I certainly wouldn't want cops beating him up unnecessarily, but the people involved don't have any training. Plus it's more of a fair fight, I mean, people making citizens arrests can't make up bullshit "resisting arrest" charges or whatever if the people try to get away.

Also, anyone else think that the kid doing the kicking was the woman's son? Seemed like about the right ages.
posted by delmoi at 11:50 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Obviously what we need based on the commentary here is legislation to protect muggers and purse snatchers. Say, make it a felony to do anything to resist street crime. I mean, won't ANYONE think of the poor, downtrodden street criminals?

Just because someone doesn't advocate vigilante justice doesn't automatically mean that person doesn't advocate any justice.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:03 AM on October 5, 2009


I certainly wouldn't want cops beating him up unnecessarily, but the people involved don't have any training. Plus it's more of a fair fight, I mean, people making citizens arrests can't make up bullshit "resisting arrest" charges or whatever if the people try to get away.

It's not a good idea for people to get involved in this. I know it's tempting. As you said, they don't have any training, which is the best reason not to do this.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:05 AM on October 5, 2009


The bottom line is he was going to violently resist detainment whether it was two average joes that grabbed him or two cops.

That's just speculation. I can say that, while I'm no purse snatcher, if two civilians were trying to detain me I would probably put up a hell of a lot more fight than if it were two cops. You don't know that this guy would've immediately acquiesced had the cops been there first.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:13 AM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Logically, people ought to stay the hell away from violence over relatively minor stuff such as purse snatching. Call the cops, do the paperwork, get pictures of the crime in progress if it isn't going to get you killed, but otherwise don't play cop.

Realistically, if I saw this situation, I might have tried to help and might have been injured or caused injury (and ended up in jail myself) or both. This is the way we are built.
posted by pracowity at 12:17 AM on October 5, 2009


felix betachat, I hear and understand what you're saying here. And I don't think anyone here is willfully disagreeing with you, it's just all so much red meat, and it's hard to step back and see the bigger picture when there's blood (in this case both figuratively and literally) on the ground.

I was watching CNN coverage of the Derreon Albert story earlier today, and the reporting and commentary was such pure and unadulterated shit, that i was literally wondering aloud if it was somehow 1992 again.

And while it may feel satisfying in some way to vicariously place yourself into the situation, rejoicing in the justice of it all, in the end, what we have here is a series of photos and an unsubstantiated and poorly reported account from the photographer.

I'm not saying anyone is right or wrong in their assessment of the situation. Just that this is a discussion forum that exists in a completely separate context from the actual event and it's repurcussions, so I would think that intelligent people could question the various big-picture aspects of this without needing to draw absolute moral lines in the sand. Yes, street crime is wrong, muggers are vile, we all hate them. But if that's all we can see in this, what's the point of even talking about it?

What I see in felix betachat's initial statement is an acknowledgement that "news" is always the result of editorial decisions. We don't don't see every frame of film, we don't hear every second of tape. What they choose not to show us shapes our perceptions as much as what we end up seeing. Is the story here the crime, and resultant citizen's arrest? Or the photographer happening to be there and catching it? Thanks to the world we live in, more and more the reporting of crimes involve actual footage of the crime being committed. How does this inform our sense of justice? How does it affect our levels of fear? How does this open the viewing public up to manipulation from the media?

These are valid questions even if the guy is a purse-snatching asshole who deserved a bloody nose and maybe worse.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:22 AM on October 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was once involved in a similar incident, when I was one of a few people who chased down a purse snatcher at a train station in east London. He'd timed his robbery just as the the train we were getting off was about to leave so the doors shut behind him on his victim, but there was big hue and cry and we caught him on the pedestrian bridge going towards the exit (his bad luck which platform we disembarked on I suppose). Any road, it wasn't much of a struggle to get him pinned down, what with the poor sod being outnumbered three-to-one, but it took me a fair bit of persuading the others (including an assembling crowd) not to kick the shit out of him and throw him off the bridge before the law arrived.
They must have stopped the train because his victim appeared and got her stuff back, and the police did arrive before mob justice ensued. I felt like a right hand-wringing liberal but he was helpless and pleading pathetically by this point, much as I have little sympathy for thieving bastards (he was twice the size of the woman he robbed).
No photographers were passing at the time to the best of my knowledge.
posted by Abiezer at 1:27 AM on October 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


These are valid questions even if the guy is a purse-snatching asshole who deserved a bloody nose and maybe worse.

Fair enough, I personally don't have any problem with the decision to run this piece as a news item being characterized as cheap and inflammatory. But by the same token it's identically cheap editorializing to paint this guy as some kind of symbol of mob justice and start drawing up analogies and slippery slope arguments on the evidence of this individual, extremely minor skirmish.

There was a vast range of possible outcomes here from no one doing anything at all to, yes, some atavistic lynch mob fantasy. On the basis of what we have to go on it looks to me like the guy doesn't have a lot to bitch about. If no one saw him ditch the purse he probably walks anyway, so if I was Shirtless Guy I'd probably be grateful to not be doing hard time and just the whole thing to blow over as quickly as possible. But sure, with the photographic evidence he could potentially press charges against the male Asian, and then the male Asian could turn right around and file charges against him for the initial bite. Looks like a push.

What it doesn't look like is "vigilante justice". Anyone who can't tell the difference between a non-cooperative citizens arrest and a lynch mob is the one that needs a reality check.
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:30 AM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


felix betachat: Were it not for you and your cellphone wielding citizen-journalists
you, sir are a jackass. those clearly are not cellphone images but crisp 50mm shots.

this is a poor black kid snatching a purse. How is that news? (...) sensationalistic shots
you, sir are a jackass. you don't know he's poor and that doesn't make it any less wrong. these are also hardly sensationalist shots nor did they get a sensationalist treatment. that's everyday documentary work. the only difference is that it was in chicago, not an afghan village. but yeah, the fifty or so hits the trib got because of them reeeeeeaally made a difference in their bankruptcy case. they probably earned a cool fifty million with this.

The Tribune is (again) publishing racially charged images
you, sir are a jackass. you are blaming the trib for choosing the color of his skin. that's class a clamchowder.

Doing this, the Tribune is neglecting its journalistic responsibility to report on actual and meaningful cases of large-scale corporate fraud and white-collar crime
you, sir are a jackass. a newspaper isn't supposed to selectively report but to report on anything it happens to come across in a city. it's supposed to give you a picture of everything that is going on, not just the case a certain jackass (that would be you) would like to see get repeated day after day.

And in part it is because the perpitrators are white.
you, sir are a racist jackass.

he sues the snot out of the people who were holding him.
the police couldn't identify them. this is why.

Also, what kind of camera does this guy have that he can't take a video? They ended up making a video out of his pictures anyway.
most of the trib guys I know use the 1ds MKIII or II.

seven to eight minutes are a pretty crummy response time, btw.
posted by krautland at 1:31 AM on October 5, 2009 [12 favorites]


oh, btw.: the chicago tribune won a pulitzer last lear for investigative reporting but hey, do keep your racist jackassery up. it must be satisfying.
posted by krautland at 1:35 AM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some good photos - kudos to the photographer.

The perp is lucky he didnt get a real beating.
posted by the cuban at 3:11 AM on October 5, 2009


The former may be a reason for the latter.
posted by pracowity at 3:44 AM on October 5, 2009


What a weird photoset and a weird thread.

It was weird to hear the photographer describe the scene but come across as if he was giving testimony in court on behalf of the arresters. Weird to hear a guy who is kicking someone - regardless of whether he has good reason to - as a "samaritan". More proof that cameras can lie - or at least can strip something of enough context that what looks like such a template goodie/baddie situation that it's a staple of most superhero movies can be repainted as ZOMG BRUTALITY.

Weird to see so many comments deploring this and that. Forget the color for a moment - the photographer hasn't chosen this guy to be non-white and the story would be just as interesting if he was white.

Somewhere between "fire up the lynch mob" vigilantism and standing back as muggers get to do what they want we seem to have lost sight of the fact that stopping some fucker from stealing other people's stuff is a good thing.

So he copped a smack or two? Tough shit. The solution's quite easy, pal. Don't nick other people's stuff. I've met enough people who've had real downers - paranoia and confidence issues after someone mugged them.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:57 AM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but this "stuff in a purse is replaceable, this is an overreaction" thing is kind of ridiculous. A not-insignificant amount of people get their checks cashed instead of having a bank account. How do we know this woman wasn't carrying this week's pay with her? Monthly transportation pass?

And there are certainly other things people carry around that aren't replaceable -- photos of loved ones, books signed by the author, things that have sentimental value. This guy could've dumped her purse when/if she lost sight of him for a bit.

It's not a race thing. It's an "I've been violated" thing.
posted by giraffe at 4:01 AM on October 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


How do we know this woman wasn't carrying this week's pay with her? Monthly transportation pass?

And there are certainly other things people carry around that aren't replaceable -- photos of loved ones, books signed by the author, things that have sentimental value.


Sure, but it's still just stuff. Like everyone else, she always carries her irreplaceable self around in her body, and she risked it all over the contents of her purse. If she'd been seriously injured -- maybe cut up or shot, maybe killed -- do you think she or her survivors would have thought it was worth the fight? "I lost an eye and the thief is dead, but I kept my bus pass and that signed copy of The Da Vinci Code and the picture of Joe on a bike, damn it."

I understand the reflex to fight for your shit, but anyone looking at it rationally will see that it's not a smart or good thing to do.
posted by pracowity at 4:16 AM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think this story is appropriate for metafilter, but kudos to both the photographer and the good samaritans
posted by jeffburdges at 4:28 AM on October 5, 2009


"and she risked it all over the contents of her purse"

I don't think she did - according to the photographer she said to the mugger that he could take her money and cards, and he seems to have nicked the whole lot.

Which is why she turns up on the scene demanding her purse.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:30 AM on October 5, 2009


If we had more of this, there'd be less crime and less police brutality. They both feed on a docile populace.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 5:39 AM on October 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Krautland: a newspaper isn't supposed to selectively report but to report on anything it happens to come across

Certainly that's what the Tribune believes they're doing -- reporting just the facts as they happen across them.

But that's a myth, I'm afraid. Editorial choices are never neutral -- they're informed by ideology at the deepest level. Crime reporting is heavily skewed towards interpersonal, violent crime; white-collar crime or the many thousands killed through "corporate homicide" (negligent industrial accidents and diseases) rarely ever rate a mention. News is skewed towards certain kinds of victims; when's the last time a prison rape made the papers? Also, fundamentally, news is skewed towards events rather than issues: happy to report the poor 17-year-old Hispanic kid that steals a purse; not so happy to report the 17 years of poverty, lack of educational opportunities and institutional racism that might have led that kid to steal the purse in the first place. That's leaving aside the whole issue of media reporting behind informed by race considerations, which felix betachat was discussing above.

It doesn't really cut it to say "hey, it really happened, and newspapers always report what happened". No, they don't.

MuffinMan: The solution's quite easy, pal. Don't nick other people's stuff.

Way to understand the social causes of crime. The self-righteous, middle-class outrage in this thread is pretty distasteful. Metafilter is great at analysing racism/classism/homophobia in throwaway gags or joke websites. Not so great at seeing how issues like race and class drive events like this purse-snatching to happen in the first place. White, middle-class college-educated people celebrating some poor kid probably with a pretty shitty future ahead of him getting his head beaten in for stealing $50? Yuck.
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:48 AM on October 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


To be fair, he didnt get much of a beating.
posted by the cuban at 5:55 AM on October 5, 2009


don'tjumplarry:

Social causes or not, this guy has basically decided that he wants someone else's stuff and he's going to take it by force. He has a choice. He's picked a weak target, and he's been caught.

You don't need to discuss in-depth the social causes of crime to know that what this guy has done is wrong. It's also incredibly patronising to poor [non-white] people to write off crimes by members of their community, given that they are the most likely victims of this kind of crime.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:57 AM on October 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


The self-righteous, middle-class outrage in this thread is pretty distasteful. Metafilter is great at analysing racism/classism/homophobia in throwaway gags or joke websites. Not so great at seeing how issues like race and class drive events like this purse-snatching to happen in the first place. White, middle-class college-educated people celebrating some poor kid probably with a pretty shitty future ahead of him getting his head beaten in for stealing $50? Yuck.
I find it completely the other way round - working class people, who make up a disproportionate number of the victims of crime, especially petty anti-social crime of this sort tend not to have much time for it, largely because they've been through similar shit as the perpetrator themselves but haven't turned to robbing their own. Which is not to deny the whole social context, but nor is it some patronising removal of agency.
My anecdote above was an incident that took place in a working class part of the East End; we were all working class people (going by accent, not saying I did a quick social survey after the event) except perhaps the slightly better spoken junkie we nabbed (I know he was a junkie because that's the reason he kept repeating why we shouldn't batter him).
posted by Abiezer at 6:10 AM on October 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


The amount of assumptions in this thread are staggering. We don't know that the two white guys initially knew it was a purse snatching - what if shirtless guy had assaulted the woman and was running away? Would it be OK for them to detain him then?

Why do we assume that shirtless guy is poor and disadvantaged? People steal stuff for all kinds of reasons - he looks young enough to do it on a dare, or just for the hell of it. If he'd just needed money, that's exactly what she offered him.

We don't know what would have happened if he'd been arrested by cops and not citizens. We don't know if the Tribune would have published this if the races were reversed, or if everyone in the pictures was the same race. There are a lot of things we don't know, and we all bring our own prejudices to the situation.
posted by desjardins at 6:14 AM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is pretty ugly all around. It's definitely not good journalism.

I'm surprised that so many people are okay with this. If you can't make a citizen's arrest without beating on the person you should probably let him go and hope the police are able to arrest them. It's not like they had a mandate to secure him at any cost. It also pretty clearly went beyond restraining him to getting revenge.

I just don't understand the logic of justifying these actions.
posted by snofoam at 6:21 AM on October 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I mean, for fuck's sake, this is a poor black kid snatching a purse. How is that news? The only news here is that a guy happened to snap some sensationalistic shots that will drive traffic to the Tribune's webpage in a down time for print journalism. There is no high principle at work here and only a naïf would think otherwise.

It is an adult thug who threatened a woman and stole her property. Why are you defending him? You are suggesting that people should remain passive while they are assaulted, robbed, or murdered, that it is racist to stop any "ethnic" person from committing a crime, that it is racist to merely photograph it. You demand that every person relinquish their fundamental right and duty to thwart those who harm innocents for your precious racial sensitivity. Naif doesn't even begin to describe you. Servile seems more appropriate.

And is it not newsworthy to show something most people have only experienced through Gomer Pyle? These photographs are empowering and educational.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 6:21 AM on October 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Forearms to the neck always calm me down, for sure. "The forearm comes into the neck" is great, because the guy's wounds were caused by some random unapprehended forearm that was running down the street, who just wanted to calm the guy down. Thank goodness for this good samaritan forearm.
posted by cashman at 6:30 AM on October 5, 2009


The photographer being there saved this guy from worse, most likely.

And once the Tribune has the images and the story of Good Samaritans snaring a purse snatcher, it's good journalism to share it with online readers.

The newspaper should have suppressed it? Please. Every day, a big part of the media's role the job is to tell people what happened. Little stories and big stories, every day. Regardless of race. If this incident had an all-white cast the publishing and play decisions would be exactly the same, I submit.

That's cause it's a decent little story. Whether you end up feeling sorry for the snatcher or happy for the lady who got her stuff back - every reader is free to react in any way they see fit, including declaiming its publication, of course.
posted by sacre_bleu at 6:31 AM on October 5, 2009


I love this story. Particularly this image. Hell yeah, kick that that guy with your nikes for trying to steal a purse that's somewhere on the ground up the street. Grab that guys arm, lady whose purse was taken, and reach around on his jeans to see if he stashed some of your gear. Hold him on that car, dude, with his arm behind his back and your hand on his shoulder and throat. You, biggest dude - uh, just hold his arm. Give him an 'indian burn' or two, cause that shit suuuucks. We also need a fifth party. Can we get a leg and foot in the shot? Just to show that purse stealing bastard that there are more shoes where that came from. Lets beat him like he committed a misdemeanor.
posted by cashman at 6:41 AM on October 5, 2009


The photographer being there saved this guy from worse, most likely.

Another assumption.
posted by desjardins at 6:41 AM on October 5, 2009


Lets beat him like he committed a misdemeanor.

Or beat him like he hurt your mother.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 6:51 AM on October 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Or beat him like he hurt your mother.

If my mom had her purse snatched and I caught the guy, I would hold him til the police got there. I actually wouldn't give five fucks about her purse, and would be too busy checking her out to make absolutely sure she was okay, to be putting forearms on people's necks. If he got away before the police got there, I would give an accurate description and tell police all I knew, and go back to checking to make sure my mom wasn't injured. So while you may relish a chance to show your MMA skills, I don't.
posted by cashman at 6:55 AM on October 5, 2009


So, here's some interesting information from a Police Blog (second city cop) about what happened with this case afterward. Take it with a grain of salt since it is the internet, but it looks like it is worth of possibly being legit. Sorry for the language - it's theirs. Emphasis is mine:
While "Freelance Photographer Mike Anzaldi" stood by and DID ABSOLUTLY NOTHING! Way to go bitch, just keep on clicking away! What if it happens to you or yours Mikey, you want us to just stand around?

He was RWOC'd by the way! The "Great Victim” was adamant about NOT SIGNING COMPALINTS! She wanted her stuff back, and wanted to go home. She could have cared less about the bad guy, or the fact that the offender fit the description of a strong-armed robber who his that area twice before. She, the VICTIM, was on the phone with HER lawyer, crying that the Police wouldn’t return her belongings fast enough. The Officers and bosses involved DID try, and attempted to do the RIGHT THING, alas, it was all for naught. I will actually feel sorry for this shitheads NEXT victim, because that time, its going to be this bitches fault!
he's a habitual offender in the loop and metra ,cta property. he challenged me to a fight in the subway while in uniform and lost. of course i didnt have all that help but one flex of my MUSCLES he was down for the count, and yes this was prior to J-FED. today i would have just ran away. no call- back and no law suit, no feds. if you do encounter him he is as strong as the photos show him to be.
I work in 021 and was there when the victim came into the station. She bitched and moaned the wole time that she did not want to stick around for the dicks and S/A to arrvie. The P/Os who handled this were trying to to charge him with strongarm robbery. But in typical 021 victim fashion, all the victim ated was to get her shit back and go. The P/Os and the W/C tried to explain to her tha if he wasn't charged with robbery he would be back to do this again to someone else. She would have none of it. Called her "attorney" and was telling him that the polic would not give her her property back. Then pulled the "Ihave a headache. I have to go" bullshit. She was offered medical assistance but refused. Then thry were going to try to put a hold on him but couldn't even get that without the dicks talking to her so they had o other option but to charge him with theft and battery then hope for an upgrade at his court date, which we all no won't happen because the offender and vicim, either both or at least one of them won't show. This is why I'm all for holding their proerty until charges are approved or their court day. You know damn well all she wanted was her stuff back and screw the hard work these officers did to try to get robbery approved. And they did try hard. One of them, E.J was a tact officer for years and knows his shit. But they exhausted every option they had and finally had to go with the misdemeanor charges. F@*&king victims are worse than offenders when it comes to dealing with them. Don't want to be put out for a minute.
posted by cashman at 7:01 AM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Those are 3 different comments.
posted by cashman at 7:04 AM on October 5, 2009


Sure are a lot of mefites willfully or otherwise taking a lot of stuff out of context here.
posted by notreally at 7:19 AM on October 5, 2009


I'm confused as to what the police blog commenter thought the photographer should be doing. Did they really need an additional person holding the guy down?

It's unfortunate that the victim was not more cooperative with the police, especially if it's true that this person is a habitual offender.
posted by desjardins at 7:21 AM on October 5, 2009


Why do we assume that shirtless guy is poor and disadvantaged?

Because social disadvantage, exclusion and deprivation are key predictors of crimes like these. Yes, it's entirely possible that his dad is a millionaire and he had the best education money could afford. But the profile of typical offenders tells us he is much more likely to be poor.

You are suggesting that people should remain passive while they are assaulted, robbed, or murdered, that it is racist to stop any "ethnic" person from committing a crime

This isn't the point at all; I don't want to get mugged, and I'm going to fight back if it happens to me. But just because I don't want my wallet snatched doesn't stop me from trying to understand and empathize with those whose background predisposes them to take up a life of street crime. It also doesn't stop me trying to get some perspective on purse snatching as a crime; yeah, it's a shitty thing, but in comparison with the massive, hidden institutional violence that underprivileged offenders often suffer (lack of good schooling and opportunity to attend college, lack of healthcare, lower life expectancy, imprisonment rates, racism, etc) it's a crime that needs to be kept in perspective.

(It's kind of like if newspapers started filling their pages with stories of people trying to defraud their health insurers on claims. Yeah, it happens, and it's wrong; but to be constantly talking about evil customers cheating poor insurance companies would be kind of distorting the health insurance issue a bit, don't you think?).

What intrigues me about some of the thinking in this thread is how much it is informed by that (quintessentially American) narrative of individual responsibility. This idea that we're all sovereign individuals with total power to determine our moral destiny; if we end up stealing a lady's purse, it's entirely because of our individual violent/thuggish/evil/immoral nature and choices. The huge role of social class, unemployment, drugs, racism -- among other environmental factors -- in guiding the moral choices that we make rarely enters the discussion.
posted by dontjumplarry at 7:29 AM on October 5, 2009


When they held him for her to berate him and make ridiculous demands...

And the photo of the woman, with a fist full of his hair, jerking him around, laughing...


Metafilter: Can make even you feel like a Republican!
posted by applemeat at 7:31 AM on October 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


The amount of assumptions in this thread are staggering.

All operating under the same level of intel that the cops are likely to have once they get there. Regardless, of all possible assumptions the one saying this guy is innocent and was running down the street with someone chasing after him for no reason is easily the most ludicrous.


Also it's worth pointing out that it's possible to like the fact that uninvolved citizens stepped in to help out but not the fact that the guy got smacked around. Applauding the concept of citizen's arrest doesn't require getting a secret thrill out of the more sanguinary cases of its execution. Not that this was the straight up beatdown that many of you are claiming but sure, a little restraint might have been exercised.
posted by squeakyfromme at 7:47 AM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


@felix betachat

Did you ever think that it was the purse snatcher being racist, by living up to unhealthy racist stereotypes? You think a photographer on the scene isn't going to snap photos of that? You think a paper with those photos isn't going to run them? You'd do the same damn things if you were in the paper business. But would you snatch purses if you were that guy?

This is a community that gets the collective vapors when mildly ironic language is used to represent women or gays.

Yeah, metafilter is too politically correct, but you're not helping.

But serve up some violent imagery with a black & white narrative frame (literally and ethically) and everyone is suddenly red meat, law & order and lock the fuckers up

And that had everything to do with the perpetrator's color of skin. Here's a question: if you're so anti-racist, how are you able to have so much insight into the racist motives of others? It must be quite a stretch.

I'll say it again. If you didn't see that imagery of a black kid getting the shit beaten out of him and feel even a twinge of sympathy, then there is something broken in you.

Actually, I agree with this, but again, it has nothing to do with race. And my twinge of sympathy isn't enough to say that this guy DESERVES pity.

And that we love to represent this kind of racial violence in our media is to our collective shame.

Yes, people here just love it because they love to see a black man beat up by non-black people. That's it, you got it. You really understand the people that you disagree with.

Hopefully by the time I've checked in in the morning, a few more people with a functioning moral sense will have dropped by.

If not, you can always lecture them about their unspoken racist motivations.
posted by Edgewise at 7:54 AM on October 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Did you ever think that it was the purse snatcher being racist, by living up to unhealthy racist stereotypes?

There is a fault in reality. Do not adjust your mind.
posted by cashman at 7:58 AM on October 5, 2009


MetaFilter: you, sir, are a jackass
posted by bwg at 8:01 AM on October 5, 2009


I looked at the piece hoping to see people taking down a guy with the wronged lady recovering her purse.

Didn't care about the colours; did think that the two holding the guy should have dropped him to the ground if they wanted to have better control over him. Then maybe the Asian guy wouldn't have been bitten and resorted to kicking.

My question is: where was the purse?
posted by bwg at 8:06 AM on October 5, 2009


Was this necessary to capture on camera? The last crime in Chicago that was captured on camera included the beating death of a 14 year old. I don't need to see crime happen on camera in the name of photojournalism or the thrill of YouTube. As a Chicagoan, I'm getting disgusted of seeing all of this crime. It's bad enough we read about it in the Trib or hear it on the 10 pm news.

That's it. I'm going to Fiji and live in a grass hut.
posted by stormpooper at 8:15 AM on October 5, 2009


oh man so sweet yeah hurt that guy its too bad no one had a sword to cut his hand off cuz that shit is cool yeah bad guys get whats comin to them and what is comin to them is awesome death
posted by shakespeherian at 8:34 AM on October 5, 2009


Was this necessary to capture on camera?

It's the guy's job to capture stuff on camera.
posted by desjardins at 9:14 AM on October 5, 2009


It's the guy's job to capture stuff on camera.

I don't know, he was just a freelancer who was there. It wasn't his "job" to do anything in this context. He makes money by selling pictures. No one asked him to take them. And as mentioned upthread a few times, if he was earnestly trying to document this for clarity, he would've used the video capture feature on his camera (assuming he had a digital camera made in the past 7 years). Snapping a bunch of photos seems like he was trying to get a nice newspaper article worthy shot rather than a proper record of what really transpired.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:21 AM on October 5, 2009


I'll say it again. If you didn't see that imagery of a black kid getting the shit beaten out of him and feel even a twinge of sympathy, then there is something broken in you.

I can't help but notice you say, "imagery of a black kid getting the shit beaten out of him"... why not just say "kid"? Oh, and am I the only one who sees someone closer to a young adult than a kid here? He's probably a teenager but he's hardly some helpless child.

However, I am a bad pacifist. I don't tend to like wars, bad treatment in prisons, or the death penalty. And yet, there is a part of me, a very bad but very real part, that approves of the idea of vendettas. I'd definitely oppose the US government using caning as a punishment, but if I saw a victim overpower her attacker and start beating him senseless, I wouldn't try to stop it (unless, you know, it looked like she was going to actually kill him). Here's the thing: in my opinion, as soon as you decide to use violence as a tool, you have forfeited your own right to be safe from physical harm.

I got punched in the face once, for no reason, by a couple of thugs who liked inflicting pain for fun. They didn't even take my wallet, although they had asked me if I had any money. My inner gums were roughed up for a week or so, so I couldn't eat anything hard for a week without it causing discomfort or pain. My attackers happened to be black. I can't be sure about it, but I'm pretty sure that I would have been just upset about it if they had been white, except that if they were white I probably wouldn't have had any "white privilege" guilt surrounding it.

oh, and for those of you who might think it happened because I had the audacity to walk through a neighborhood where I "didn't belong" -- no, it was a mixed, relatively middle-to-upper class neighborhood, and was just a block from my friend's apartment, so we weren't guilty of "trespassing"

I have a strong irrational hatred of the two jerkwads who punched me (and a close friend, right in front of his girlfriend) hard enough to make us both fall to the ground. There is still a part of me that wants to see horrible things happen to them. Like, both of them get their legs shot out (or better, smashed by a sledgehammer), and then they have to get around in old, rusty used wheelchairs, and I see them one day and I kick their rusty-wheeled asses into oncoming traffic.

I would never act on these feelings. In truth, I still find the idea of actually inflicting violence on another person to be utterly foreign and bizarre. But even after nearly two years, I still haven't forgiven the two attackers, and I still take disproportionate enjoyment from watching a bad guy getting the crap beat out of him on a TV show. I didn't enjoy this photoshoot really, since I knew it was real and that's a bit upsetting. But no, I didn't feel a twinge of sympathy for the guy.

So, yeah I guess there is something broken in me. But I didn't break it; thugs like this guy did.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:10 AM on October 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think people have missed the point of this story entirely. This is not a story about a man who stole a purse. This is a story about people who came to the aid of a stranger. Am I the only one who interpreted the story in this way?

I think people have overanalyzed to the point of total derail here.
posted by worpet at 10:16 AM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


“It also doesn't stop me trying to get some perspective on purse snatching as a crime… it's a crime that needs to be kept in perspective.”

Yeah getting involved has its own difficulties beyond the legal (as pointed out above) as well. Happened to me a few times (I’m not a ‘bystander’ type). Had a Wyatt Earp moment.
There seems to be that kind of dynamic in these sorts of things. I think these guys did the 100% right thing in stopping the guy, getting involved, etc. On the other hand, it can’t just be point of contact involvement in a crime, you have to have a neighborhood watch, folks covering each other, all that, to stop random street crime as well as gang violence.

Lots of folks who are victims, friends of victims, etc. are pretty fed up with the justice system that they see dragging its feet.

But that mindset causes this self-reciprocating loop where there’s too much social chaos so you have to do street justice because you’re not plugged in to social services. But you’re not plugged in to social services because there’s too much social chaos.
Doesn’t look like these two guys have been in a fight in their lives past the 8th grade. And they look local. They’d be better off in a community group.

And there’s no percentage for the purse snatcher in not resisting (biting was a pretty bad idea). So, tough call for them, do violence or let him run.
Well, he has done violence to that woman, her coat (and general appearance) isn’t exactly indicative of great wealth.

A lot of victimization goes on in Chinatown, muggers (et.al) come in on the Red line, walk around looking for “submissive” Asian women. There were a number of rapes in that area specifically targeting Asian women. So lets recognize that they’re both victims of a larger system and, understanding that, let’s not cut the aggressor too much slack.

The bystanders, dunno, doesn’t seem to me yuppies drive around in their range rovers looking to do the Punisher thing. They look fairly local and not exactly upscale either.

“Sure, but it's still just stuff. Like everyone else, she always carries her irreplaceable self around in her body, and she risked it all over the contents of her purse”

Er, no. She did 100% the right thing in giving the mugger her money. It was only later when he was stopped that she asked where her purse was.
Replaceable?
There are people in that neighborhood who are dirt poor. Like, no food in the fridge poor. Like – no fridge in the first place poor. If she’s got her Link card (Illinois public aid card – food stamps, etc) and HFS documents (health insurance, etc. etc) and other stuff her in the purse, not having them means she’s not eating, getting her kids medical aid, etc. etc. for a while. On top of that, to get those cards replaced she needs her driver’s license, and other documents which might well be in the purse. That’s bad, yeah.

One can abhor violence, but let’s recognize violence comes in many forms. Yes they’re both under a system, and yes there’s racism, but I’ve been poor. If it’s a choice between getting some lumps that won’t put me out of work or losing my paycheck and having to take time off to replace all my documentation I’d rather take a beating.

That said, yeah, I’d rather not suffer either and the form this takes lends itself to that dichotomy. I’d rather see folks show up at community block and police beat meetings than involve themselves in something like this.

I’ve gotten into it with some hard folks and one thing I remember was running with my cousins against some guys who were looking to bust one of our heads. Big, big dude with forearms the size of my thigh was ready to crack my skull when his mom came down the street yelling at him for fighting. All 5’4’ of her just slapping the snot out of this guy who could have eaten her car for lunch.
Plenty of sociological reasoning behind all that. But I learned it close up – you want to really stop someone permanently, all the weapons, training, tactics and craft don’t equal having someone’s mom grabbing them by the ear and straightening them out.

Newswise – I’d argue this is news, but yeah, it was poorly handled. Like most news today. Apparently because you have 1 reporter doing the work of 6 and there’s no way to go into any story beyond “this happened just now.” No “why” to it. Or “how.” Just the Who, What, Where.

“The last crime in Chicago that was captured on camera included the beating death of a 14 year old.”

I think we need to see it. Maybe packaged differently. I’ve been listening to NPR. They’ve been doing some decent work highlighting some of the real problems, doing actual “go and talk to folks” type journalism. But it’s too easy to ignore. And the social fabric needs to be addressed. People need to know why this is going on and that there’s real pain with real human beings involved as a result of some decisions made or the continuation of decisions made in the past.

Still a lot of segregation in Chicago. Now, that’s certainly not my fault. Nor most other folks either. But blame has nothing to do with fixing a problem. Often quite the opposite. And refusing to take responsibility isn’t much of an option. We can let it lay as it is, but then we shouldn’t complain that we have to hear about people in real pain. Something can be done about it. Folks who can do something about it, should. For no other reason than it’s going to make everything much better, safer, more stable, etc.

It’s not like this guy wants to make a living snatching purses. And it’s not like some woman needs to have her purse snatched. And it’s not like people love that having to happen. But maybe they need some motivation to get off the couch and maybe plug in to their neighbors. See what’s up. Maybe talk to some kids mom about him running the streets snatching purses.

I heard the other day some guy say, regarding health care: “why should I pay for someone else to go to the doctor?” And I just laughed and thought of the depth of ignorance in that statement. Like there had never been a Black Plague.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:18 AM on October 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


I don't know if I agree with your logic there, Burhanistan. Just because no one asked him to shoot it doesn't mean it's not his job. Freelance photogs absolutely go out and shoot stuff on their own in the hopes that someone thinks it's worth purchasing and publishing. Like you said, "he makes money by selling pictures." that is a reason FOR him to shoot, and shoot still shots. not against. and when you say this,

http://mefi.us/images/mefi/italic.gifSnapping a bunch of photos seems like he was trying to get a nice newspaper article worthy shot rather than a proper record of what really transpired.

my immediate reaction is "yes, that is what he was doing, because trying to get a nice newspaper article worthy shot is what he does for a living, like desjardins said."
posted by shmegegge at 10:28 AM on October 5, 2009


I am not a photographer, but I can imagine that if that's what I did for a living or for a hobby, my first instinct upon coming across such a scene would be to take pictures, because that's what I do. Someone (*cough* upthread *cough*) who is ex-military or law enforcement would likely have a different instinctive reaction. My personal instinctive reaction would be to stay the hell back, but I'm 95 lbs and regularly get my ass kicked by a cat.
posted by desjardins at 10:39 AM on October 5, 2009


White, middle-class college-educated people celebrating some poor kid probably with a pretty shitty future ahead of him getting his head beaten in for stealing $50? Yuck.

Which photos were some of you looking at? And why wasn't this tiny child hospitalized for head trauma if he got his head beaten in? Jesus. Your drama coach is awesome and deserves a raise.
posted by heyho at 10:41 AM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


"It's the guy's job to capture stuff on camera."

I don't know, he was just a freelancer who was there. It wasn't his "job" to do anything in this context. He makes money by selling pictures. No one asked him to take them.


I don't think you entirely understand how this whole freelancing thing works.

And as mentioned upthread a few times, if he was earnestly trying to document this for clarity, he would've used the video capture feature on his camera (assuming he had a digital camera made in the past 7 years).

What? First off, he's a photographer. He takes photos. You run photos in the newspaper--you don't run video in the newspaper.

Second, the first digital SLR to be able to record video was the Nikon D90, which came out in 2008, so I don't know what you mean with this "past 7 years," bit. Unless you think he uses a point and shoot?

It's very, VERY possible this photographer does not have an SLR capable of recording video. I don't.

Snapping a bunch of photos seems like he was trying to get a nice newspaper article worthy shot rather than a proper record of what really transpired.

What the hell? The two aren't mutually exclusive, and yeah I'd assume he was trying to get a shot worthy of being run in a newspaper because that's his job.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:49 AM on October 5, 2009


also, to chime in a bit on the current debate:

I don't know how I feel about this article, or what happened. I think it's more complex than either the simple "mugger gets caught by good dudes. go good dudes." OR the simple "black kid gets beat up by white guys" angles. would those guys have behaved precisely the same if it had been a white kid running down the street? I don't know. maybe, maybe not. should they have been as violent as they were with him? I don't know. ideally, I'd say no, but the kid was kicking and biting and I don't know how you deal with that in real life if restraining him isn't working out that well.

but here's what bugs me a little bit: the photog's use of the word "samaritan." I know, quibbling little thing to get annoyed by, right? but let me put it this way: technically, the original good samaritan story was a guy from an antagonistic culture who nonetheless treated an injured man well, as he might himself hope to be treated. who loved his neighbor as himself, even if neighbor is stretched to mean "man from a hated other culture." he was specifically NOT someone who exerted force and violence to restrain a suspected criminal. I know, I know, language is mutable and the way we use a phrase changes through time, fair enough. but the large point I'm trying to make is that the more accurate word for what these guys did is vigilantism, and before we get more people acting like "vigilante" is synonymous with "civilian brutality" let me be clear that I'm not accusing these guys of being ultra-violent brutalizers or anything. but let me also be clear that this is not good samaritanism. and I think his insistence on the term is evidence of clear bias, if not an outright agenda.

and what bothers me is the photog's clear bias in his interview, where he insists that the guy just got an elbow to the neck and he "doesn't recall anyone hitting his face." as though the blood streaming from his nose were a mystery and the face against the hood had simply been gently lowered down there. I can't tell what the editorial staff was trying to do with the editing of the piece, where everything he says seems to be revealed for a fiction by the very pictures he took. were they trying to undermine his whitewashed revision of the story? were they merely providing the photograph in question when he talked about it? I don't know. but there's a lot of shoddy journalism going on in that piece, whether it's JUST the photog's work or the collusion between him and the editors at the paper. that there is no testimony from anyone else involved at the scene is mind boggling, but hey. shitty photogs can forget to take down personal information, I guess. either way, what we have here is one journalist taking a clear side in the subject he photographed and that should never, ever be the only thing presented in an article. I'm not arguing for some kind of FoxNews style "fair and balanced" reporting or anything, but something more professional than "look, that guy got kicked because he deserved it and nobody punched him in the face, I don't know where that blood came from" is necessary in a story like this.
posted by shmegegge at 10:56 AM on October 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think there's something broken in me too.

Some of the same kind of people (i.e. people who in some way profit or believe they profit from doing horrible, awful things to decent people just trying to live their lives) just beat the elderly owner of a local bar to death here in Chicago. Being told that we should try to understand where the criminal is coming from gets a little tiresome after a while.

For every conscience-less criminal parasite who got a bum deal in childhood, there are countless others whose lives have been just as hard but somehow manage not to live off the misery of others. So yeah, I think thuggishness, evilness and immorality do often play a major role. I have sympathy for a lot of people, creatures, causes and situations but I'm afraid the well runs dry when it comes to shit like this.
posted by Jess the Mess at 11:27 AM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


What the hell? The two aren't mutually exclusive, and yeah I'd assume he was trying to get a shot worthy of being run in a newspaper because that's his job.

Overreactions aside, an actual video would tell the story much better than a series of photos strong along by his obviously biased narrative.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:30 AM on October 5, 2009


That SOB purse snatcher deserved a good ass-kicking and the press to go with it.
posted by I love You at 11:41 AM on October 5, 2009


That SOB purse snatcher deserved a good ass-kicking and the press to go with it.

Yeah! He must be guilty! Screw due process!

Look, he probably is, but that comment is stupid. There are a thousand things we're not seeing here. For all we know, that woman was trying to buy crack from the guy. Who knows? This whole thread seems far more about people venting their own issues than the actual issue at hand.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:44 AM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


That SOB purse snatcher deserved a good ass-kicking and the press to go with it.
posted by I love You at 1:41 PM on October 5 [+] [!]


eponystericality at its best.
posted by desjardins at 11:52 AM on October 5, 2009


I think the photographer was doing something. Bearing witness is a powerful thing. I don’t think I made clear – just ‘cos *I * myself get involved, doesn’t mean everyone else can or should or shouldn’t. Indeed, I think being involved beyond the point of contact is far more effective no matter how skilled one is in interpersonal violence (the whole straw/oar thing)

So again, a community group, or even bringing something like this to the public attention is, while maybe not in the immediate moment, is more effective overall. Violence is one of those things everyone thinks they can do well. But they get off into a tangent and let the adrenals and gonads make the game plan.

I mean the robber here was looking to do what by biting one of the guys? He wasn’t going to get away really. He’d already been photographed.
For the most part it seems like he was trying to save face and not be a punk and salvaging some respect by making it hard to hold him and making someone bleed. Save Face.

Getting away was a tertiary goal. So too - the guys who stopped him, why keep him on his feet? Why not bring him down and just let the bigger guy just sit on him? Face.

Violence is as often as bound up with face and other social considerations as sex.
He’d look stupid just sitting on the guy. Indeed, in the photos it’s pretty clear he doesn’t really know what to do. That’s less a function of lacking any sort of training and more a function of the internal conflict between the messages we get about violence and doing something effective in service of a goal.
It takes no training for three guys to figure out how to immobilize one guy by sitting on him. These guys did it like ersatz cops (slam him on a hood) because that’s what they’ve seen on t.v. Again - not 'wrong' per se. At least not any more wrong than the purse snatcher who's playing the role he's locked into.

And most folks feel like Deathalicious. When they get hit, they want to hit back. Nothing broken about it. It’s just the adrenals, the primitive brain, all that.
Nothing ‘broken’ about that primitive brain. It can provide motivation. That passionate response without focus is irrational, yea. But focus without passion is impotence.
So I greatly respect the folks who feel the urge to do violence but don’t do it as much as I respect the folks who feel fear but go on anyway. Anyone can be a pacifist or a hero between conflicts.
I suppose the question is moot for me, since the goal comes before the consideration of the use of force. Takes a while to develop that detachment tho. But in large part that comes from recognizing, as many pacifists do, the enemy is not the man but the act. Direct force is usually a response, not a solution and one has to differentiate the urge to do violence (and perhaps the rationalization of it) from the more rational responses and not allow those feelings to overcome the achievement of a real and tangible goal.

Indeed, unless one is prepared to simply meet force with force, that is the only real advantage one has over irrational violence. On any scale.

So speaking of what this guy ‘deserves’ – he’s acting out of desperation and hopelessness. Responding in an equally arbitrary forceful manner – seeking to mete out judgment - is just going to perpetuate the cycle because he’s never going to recognize legitimate force (authority) otherwise.

Doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be stopped on the scene, but the battle should have been waged well before this.

As it is now, we’re not really working to change the social situation. Well, some folks are. Ceasefire is working on this sort of thing. And Governor Quinn just re-funded the dough Blago took out of their budget (hey, they wouldn’t kiss his ass, y’know, you can’t just fund an organization that is looking to keep people from being shot without taking your cut, amirite?).
Long process.
But the politicos seem to play to the bread and circuses more. Which again, sucks. Because snatching a purse is short term thinking. And busting the guy without addressing the social conditions that cause that is short term thinking.
So the woman with the purse (and others) are victimized in a number of ways. Far from being broken - I'm surprised there isn't more irrational anger floating around.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:04 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, yeah I guess there is something broken in me. But I didn't break it; thugs like this guy did.

You can't control other people.

You can control yourself. It's within your capacity to forgive those guys, but it's only you who can do it, not them. People have lost family members and parts of their bodies and still forgiven the attacker. It's about you healing, that's all, so do it for yourself, because your only cheating yourself by holding on to that anger for those people, who are not anywhere near you and have no control over you.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:16 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Being told that we should try to understand where the criminal is coming from gets a little tiresome after a while.

For every conscience-less criminal parasite who got a bum deal in childhood, there are countless others whose lives have been just as hard but somehow manage not to live off the misery of others. So yeah, I think thuggishness, evilness and immorality do often play a major role.


yes, it does get tiresome. Imagine how tiresome it is for those who have no choice but to understand where the criminal is coming from. Nobody's asking you to change your perspective, but it seems like the very existence of a different perspective is threatening to some.

It's not that theses parasites deserve our sympathy. Of course, most people make it out of those situations without resorting to crime. But it's a lot harder and usually that struggle comes at the cost of higher aspirations. Our society has deemed the existence of a permanent hopeless criminal class as a necessary write-off. Hate the criminal all you want, but this is also a crime.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:16 PM on October 5, 2009


...why wasn't this tiny child hospitalized for head trauma if he got his head beaten in? Jesus. Your drama coach is awesome and deserves a raise.

Fair point. Amend to "kicked and struck in the head".

By a nice, friendly bunch of good samaritans.
posted by dontjumplarry at 12:18 PM on October 5, 2009


Some of the same kind of people (i.e. people who in some way profit or believe they profit from doing horrible, awful things to decent people just trying to live their lives) just beat the elderly owner of a local bar to death here in Chicago. Being told that we should try to understand where the criminal is coming from gets a little tiresome after a while.

It's not that. It's that it's better as a human being if you don't react violently, without thinking, even in the face of temptation. If you have to defend yourself, sure. But the anger that spills over in these situations and that you hold onto later ends up becoming the chip on your shoulder. If your anger is towards "the criminal," faceless, nameless, I can understand, but are you letting the criminal victimize you beyond the crime itself? The criminal has a problem. You have a choice. You can also choose to ignore the causes of crime and focus entirely on your anger, but that's not necessarily going to be productive or illuminating.

And in the end the thing that makes the difference is how you react. Did you react from your lizard brain, that told you to KILL KILL KILL! Or did you understand that you have the capacity to keep your instincts in check and choose to react using your higher nature? Because it's really easy to follow your instincts, but is that really the way we should all act? Would we all be better off if we all took the law into our own hands?
posted by krinklyfig at 12:25 PM on October 5, 2009


It's possible to be compassionate about the criminal's circumstances while simultaneously abhorring his behavior. It's also possible to seek to change those circumstances (as Smedleyman suggests) without tolerating the criminal's behavior. The photo essay may have lacked nuance, but it doesn't mean we have to.
posted by desjardins at 12:26 PM on October 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't have loads of sympathy for petty criminals, but celebrating vigilante justice is vile. Funny how willing people are to toss due process out the window. Where do I get my pitchfork and torch for the Wall Street execs that fleeced this country for nearly all its worth? Oh, shit, they're white, that would be uncouth.

Yuck.
posted by cj_ at 12:30 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's possible to be compassionate about the criminal's circumstances while simultaneously abhorring his behavior.

That's true, but I think what often is forgotten in these conversations is that we're all assuming we're talking to each other as victims or potential victims. It's possible here to talk with potential victims, but not so much the muggers. So, the advice to victims is, don't try to be a hero, and that is good advice. The only reason there hasn't been more advice for muggers is the lack of any admitted muggers here.

We can talk to ourselves as a group, but the other party, the attacker, can only be referenced outside the conversation. On that level, we can only talk about policy and moral reaction, the latter of which has been the entire subject here. So, we can express outrage here at the criminals, and it's satisfying I guess, but that doesn't do anything, and it just reinforces the sense of helplessness, and that the only possible course is to attack the attacker with all your latent rage, for him, for the bar owner, and for little Billy, too. But in doing so you have lost the ability to make a decision, because all you did was react, poorly.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:38 PM on October 5, 2009


So too - the guys who stopped him, why keep him on his feet? Why not bring him down and just let the bigger guy just sit on him?

I disagree, to a certain extent. These guys likely haven't had to deal with a situation like this before and were probably just trying to get through it the best way they knew how. So they stuck with their first instinct, which was to grab the guy by the arms so he couldn't punch them. Similarly, the pursesnatcher was probably doing whatever he could to make those guys let him go. It's definitely the exception, rather than the rule, to keep your head when confronted with violence.
posted by electroboy at 2:09 PM on October 5, 2009


"It's definitely the exception, rather than the rule, to keep your head when confronted with violence."
I agree with your point. To clarify mine a bit more - I think they know the 'best' way to deal with the guy by what input they've gotten socially. There are a lot of behaviors that are ultimately self-defeating to the apparent goal.
So, for example, vigilante justice. You don't tell the cops what you know because you want to go get the guys who did it yourself because you know the cops "won't do anything."
But ultimately, the cops "won't do anything" because no one's talking to them, so they can't prosecute them and get them off the streets.

The goal - not having thugs snatch purses, mug people, etc. is at odds with the means because there are social modifiers at play.

So too - they lost their heads, yeah, but the way they lost their heads is indicative of certain rote behaviors. Most people who really completely lose it fight like spastic naked apes. That is, there's zero thinking involved. It's all lizard.

F'rinstnce - being they're American males, if they thought they were "in a fight" they would have thrown overhand rights like 90% of untrained American males involved in fights.
They instead responded as though they were "arresting" someone.
An excellent example - ask a bouncer or police officer, etc. about women in fights. They have no preconceptions and no male vanity so they're willing to scratch, bite, pull hair, poke eyes, etc. and most males have no experience with that because they would never think to do it. Even though biting is tremendously dangerous (human bite wounds get infected very quickly) and can be effective in close quarters (Tyson did it).

The mugger has a different kind of image to uphold and a different, more simplified goal.
So, what I'm driving at is, it's important to understand what it is you're trying to accomplish and define a conflict that way instead of get into a kind of rote "I'm subduing him. I'm the good guy. He's a bad guy." etc sort of thing and letting that dictate action.
Cops do this all the time. Other LEA too. An excellent example is the FBI going a bit back. They were getting shot all the time because they would, in training, focus on shooting. They rarely took cover because A. they wanted to shoot and B. hey, we're the 'good guys' we don't take cover.
So, just thinking about it, what's the objective here? Stop the mugger, hold him for the police? Ok, how. Immobilize him. Ok, best way to do that? Take his feet away. So, put him on the ground. How do you stop him from getting up? Put something heavy on him. Like two guys.

I'm not saying it's the best possible way to do it. Just an example of one possible derivation from a coherent goal instead of allowing role expectation to determine your actions.
These guys looked to convince the bad guy that he was 'caught' and he, understandably, didn't play along and so they had to resort to further violence that would have been unnecessary had they focused on the goal.

I'm not blaming them or anything. Just saying this thinking is fairly ubiquitous in both the immediate and concrete as well as the abstract.
Part of the reason non-violent/non-cooperative resistance works (when it's part of a plan) is because it's goal centered on concrete actions.
Violent responses tend to be locked into rigid patterns.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:50 PM on October 5, 2009


I don't think that I would be thinking, "I better not hurt this guy, I might lose the moral high ground..."

I would be trying my best to incapacitate the guy, whatever it took. I wouldn't even think twice, knock the guy out or whatever.
posted by schyler523 at 6:28 PM on October 5, 2009


I would be trying my best to incapacitate the guy, whatever it took. I wouldn't even think twice, knock the guy out or whatever.

Really, I would hope that I didn't get locked down into some reptilian brain subroutine and have a sense of freakin' relativity about a goddamned purse.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:16 PM on October 5, 2009


yeesh. Metafilter doesn't do race well at all. Felix cites relevant material and points out some fairly basic stuff about the U.S. print media (stuff I though most of learned about in college) and y'all call him a racist. boggles my mind.

And btw all of you who are claiming that he didn't get much of a beating have really convinced me that you're super badass and that you know a good beating when you see one ayup.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:48 PM on October 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


There seem to me to be a bunch of reasons "citizen's arrest" is likely to go badly, as opposed to police arrest.

First, the detainee doesn't know what you're going to do with him. Drag him to an alley, call your friends on your cell phone, and go to town? He's going to fight much harder given the fear of serious injury -- a feeling that he's got nothing to lose.

And then there's the fact that his case won't change from a misdemeanor into a felony on the basis of resistance to a citizen's arrest. Plus police have overwhelming force, which makes resistance less likely to be successful.

So a citizen's arrest is likely to involve stiff resistance, and a bloody street fight, instead of the quick subduing and arrest that characterize most police arrests (as opposed to the notable ones that end up on TV).

I'm not saying purse snatching isn't an assault, I just think it's probably not worth what happened here, and it's certainly not worth what could have happened here.
posted by palliser at 7:49 PM on October 5, 2009


palliser: There seem to me to be a bunch of reasons "citizen's arrest" is likely to go badly, as opposed to police arrest.

Well, if the police arrest was an option, nobody would ever try the citizen's arrest. The only reason you'd ever do it is to stop a crime in progress, or maybe to stop a criminal from getting away if the cops weren't there and you didn't think he was identified sufficiently well to be picked up later.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:54 PM on October 5, 2009


Not one of you vigilante wannabes fuckers have said what exactly the point of publishing this in a major daily newspaper is. Thank you Felix, for providing a reasoned analysis of this disgusting crap. Please, tell me why this was reiterated on the front page, with no analysis? Titilation? Stupid.
posted by RajahKing at 9:04 PM on October 5, 2009


I don't have loads of sympathy for petty criminals, but celebrating vigilante justice is vile.

this wasn't vigilante justice - they saw what they believed to be a criminal fleeing a victim, they attempted to detain the suspect for the police, he got violent with them and they defended themselves against his violence

i'm not sure it was a good idea, but it wasn't vigilante justice - that's just hysteria trying to score cheap rhetorical points

the guy could have had a knife or a gun - and the people detaining him needed to either act as if he did and disable him - or follow at a safe distance

i think i'd have followed and not gotten physical
posted by pyramid termite at 9:14 PM on October 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


i'm not sure it was a good idea, but it wasn't vigilante justice - that's just hysteria trying to score cheap rhetorical points

Oh, come on. You're just being nasty. They hit and kicked the guy, grabbed him by the hair, slammed him into a car, throttled him. If that's not being a vigilante, could you please explain the difference?
posted by KokuRyu at 9:40 PM on October 5, 2009


you're skipping the part where he started biting people - or is there some kind of new way of biting people that isn't considered to be nasty?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:49 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu: Oh, come on. You're just being nasty. They hit and kicked the guy, grabbed him by the hair, slammed him into a car, throttled him. If that's not being a vigilante, could you please explain the difference?

Vigilante violence is generally either committed significantly after the fact, to a completely subdued opponent, or greatly out of proportion to the threat they present. I'm not seeing any of these here.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:00 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


It does look from the pictures like it went beyond what was necessary to just restrain him (like Smedleyman said, partly because they didn't get him down on the ground) which is regrettable but still not in the league of an actual beating if we must take a position on degrees of violence. FWIW the two young men who apparently arrive a bit after the fact and get involved in the more violent bit of the altercation seem at fault, but it's all guesswork from these images (and I think shmegegge made a good point about the special pleading in the narration).
I do think people should get involved in preventing crime or capturing the perpetrators after the fact where safe and possible because it speaks to the quality of society we live in. I do think there was less predatory crime of this sort in the stronger working class communities of my youth - without over-romanticising an era when there were some rotten bastards, you really were less likely to get young men robbing the elderly, weak and infirm and a large part of that was the social atmosphere of disapproval, no tolerance for such behaviour and a willingness to intervene.
posted by Abiezer at 10:01 PM on October 5, 2009


Abiezer: It does look from the pictures like it went beyond what was necessary to just restrain him...

Actually, I'm really surprised they succeeded with so little violence. That guy looks stronger than either one of the people restraining him, and it can be immensely difficult to hold someone who is struggling desperately (which he almost certainly was, if he was biting.) All I can think of is that the guy must not be as strong as he looks, and the people restraining him are probably stronger than they look and likely have some kind of training.

Really, I wouldn't expect two unarmed cops to capture someone with so little damage. I would at least expect a couple of good stunning blows and a tackle. These guys did a really good job.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:15 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


And btw all of you who are claiming that he didn't get much of a beating have really convinced me that you're super badass and that you know a good beating when you see one ayup.

Oh, you're so rad*, Baby_Balrog, you see right through our macho posturing because you are so much more enlightened than us internet toughguys, and your implication that we're trying to impress you because you are the arbiter of realdeal badassery has totally put me in my sniveling place!

Now that we've both had the chance to present the most asinine and uncharitable interpretations of one another's comments, what I was trying to get across was the apparent double-standard of those who dismissed the violation of the woman while at the same time exaggerating the violation of the shirtless guy.

Getting bopped in the nose and kicked in the ribs sucks. Getting mugged sucks. They both suck, but unlike some of the people in this thread, I'm not supercomfortable doing the algebra of suckitude and calculating the degrees of suckage that will allow me to let one act of violence slide and not the other.

*You actually do seem like a pretty cool fellow, which is probably why your rebuke, however wrongheaded I feel it to be, stung a titch. Apologies if I went too far with the assiness.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:28 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


As I went on to say, I suspect there is something up with the way the two younger men who arrive later interact with the lad being held, but obviously all guesswork.
posted by Abiezer at 10:30 PM on October 5, 2009


dontjumplarry: you're right, it's a myth but faulting them for reporting on a wide array of stories as opposed to just one that a certain other commenter here was keen to see highlighted time and again was doing a disservice to people like himself because it gives license to ignore stories.

white-collar crime or the many thousands killed through "corporate homicide" (negligent industrial accidents and diseases) rarely ever rate a mention
uhm, hello? this is the paper that employed mike royko for decades, they reported on ryan, blago and the machine? are you ignoring all this work or did you just not read it because it lacked a flashy visual? this reporting is there (though the trib is no nyt, which has andrew ross sorkin, who rocks that beat), it's just that people like you constantly seem to ignore it. I suggest reading finance pages too, not just sports.

happy to report the poor 17-year-old Hispanic kid that steals a purse; not so happy to report the 17 years of poverty, lack of educational opportunities and institutional racism that might have led that kid to steal the purse in the first place.
I call bullshit on that whole paragraph. royko especially was all about that. read "boss" and tell me he wasn't griping about exactly that kind of stuff for ages. besides: you are comparing apples to oranges as one is a current event fit for a headline ("this happened today") and the other an investigative piece that even if you wanted you couldn't just throw out within the twenty or so minutes you have until filing.

the piece linked above is news. it's local news, meaning it has no real larger meaning if you don't live in the area, but it's news. the conclusions are for you to take, if you want to buy a gun or start volunteering at a middle school or do nothing at all, but it's news, it's worth reporting and it's not something one should ignore because it makes one uncomfortable. if that were a valid argument then there shouldn't be a single article on house values diminishing and credit freezing up because holy cow does that rob my sleep.

stood by and DID ABSOLUTLY NOTHING!
actually he did exactly what he was supposed to: his job. he also wasn't supposed to engage this guy, which is technically legally problematic, remember? you, officer, were supposed to do that but you took what again, eight minutes? to finally show up.

They hit and kicked the guy, grabbed him by the hair, slammed him into a car, throttled him. If that's not being a vigilante, could you please explain the difference?
I think reasonable force is the key point here. was the force applied necessary to keep him from taking off or was it applied to punish him? I don't see this guy being gratuitously hit all over, I see a bunch of people trying their best to hold on to him and keep him restraint until cops get there. they are not very good at it but who could blame them? this is not a situation most of us find ourselves in every day.

for the record: I think if these guys had done nothing certain jackasses would be all over this thread bemoaning how cruel and indifferent people had become. "how could they not help that poor woman" would the cry be and someone would chime in saying "because the kid wasn't white and they were afraid of being called racists" and nobody would take it seriously.
posted by krautland at 3:28 AM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, if the police arrest was an option, nobody would ever try the citizen's arrest. The only reason you'd ever do it is to stop a crime in progress, or maybe to stop a criminal from getting away if the cops weren't there and you didn't think he was identified sufficiently well to be picked up later.

My point is that you shouldn't get started with the citizen's arrest unless the crime is really worth the risk of a bloody street fight, because that's what you're probably going to get.

But Abiezer makes a good point about the deterrence effect of communities that are generally willing to take actions like this.
posted by palliser at 5:46 AM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


That'll show his seriously intimidating ass for engaging in a minor property crime.

Robbery is not considered a property crime by jurists and criminal justice experts, compare FBI, Crime in the United States: Violent Crime (2008) with FBI, Crime in the United States: Property Crime (2008), and is considered a crime against the person in many if not most jurisdictions. It is also not a minor crime. The reasons for this are obvious to anyone who has witnessed or experienced a robbery.

Illinois is one of the states the do list it as a property crime. However, that is the only way in which Illinois downplays the personal and violent aspects of the crime.

"A person commits robbery when he or she takes property ... from the person or presence of another by the use of force or by threatening the imminent use of force.... Robbery is a Class 2 felony. However, if the victim is [particularly vulnerable], robbery is a Class 1 felony." 720 ILCS 5/18‑1 (emphasis added) available at http://law.justia.com/illinois/codes/chapter53/60730.html
posted by jock@law at 5:54 AM on October 6, 2009


And btw all of you who are claiming that he didn't get much of a beating have really convinced me that you're super badass and that you know a good beating when you see one ayup.

I live in a college town. I see epic bar fights and bloody faces and broken noses on a somewhat regular basis. So, yes, I don't think this guy really got beat up that bad. Sure he was bleeding a bit, but I bleed more than that every morning in the winter because my nose gets too dry...
posted by schyler523 at 7:16 AM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mitrovarr: "Vigilante violence is generally either committed significantly after the fact, to a completely subdued opponent, or greatly out of proportion to the threat they present."

this is a peculiarly narrow definition of vigilante justice with which I am not familiar, and for which I can find no matching definition online.
posted by shmegegge at 7:53 AM on October 6, 2009


The comments at that police blog ballooned up. Some really choice commentary in there. The victim gets attacked, the perpetrator & anybody who looks like him is a savage or a ninja (the n word), liberals are the devil, and they even drag the photog's past history into it.
posted by cashman at 8:39 AM on October 6, 2009


“I would be trying my best to incapacitate the guy, whatever it took.”
Why? Is incapacitating him the objective? Does ‘whatever it took’ include killing him? Pretty sure I could break this guy in half. I probably wouldn’t break a sweat doing it, but I might get hurt, or bit, yeah.
Doesn’t look to me these guys did their best though. Looks like they were acting on preconceived patterns as to ‘how.’
Why risk that? If I have to confront him physically, once I’ve established some control, why not assure him I’m not going to hurt him. Put him on the ground, make sure the woman is kept away from him, psychological control is at least as important as physical control short of an all out situation. Even then – you want your opponent thinking surrender is better than going on. Why encourage him to fight to the death? Why rely solely on your physical limits or skill? Why give your opponent a fair fight? Or even a chance at all?
I’ve defeated more physically able and better skilled opponents – did I ‘cheat’? Well, so? I’m here, they’re not. End of story.

Plenty of other reasonable methods to achieve the goal short of physical incapacitation by any means, to wit:
“the guy could have had a knife or a gun - and the people detaining him needed to either act as if he did and disable him - or follow at a safe distance
i think i'd have followed and not gotten physical”

Nothing at all wrong with this. Maybe make sure some cover is handy if he did have a pistol, but given the baggy pants, no shirt, etc – looks doubtful. And the police still capture him and this woman (eventually) gets her stuff back.
Which, again, I’m pretty sure is what the idea was.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:43 AM on October 7, 2009


and in happier news: today, two snitches were beaten to death.
posted by krautland at 1:10 PM on October 7, 2009


Well, if the police arrest was an option, nobody would ever try the citizen's arrest.

I think that's really key here. If these bystanders hadn't stepped in than almost certainly the guy would've gotten off scott free and the lady never gets her purse back. That CSI shit just doesn't come into play for everyday crime. A friend of mine had her car broken into yesterday and her GPS stolen, which was only a $100 or so loss in and of itself, but now she has to have the window replaced, take a half day off work, etc. I don't know, it just doesn't seem to me a useful solution to create scenarios where there is no incentive not to burglarize/assault someone unless it just so happens a beat cop is strolling down the street at the time. Citizen's arrest isn't an ideal but an alternative when the only other option seems to be the guy gets away with it.

So basically you have people arguing that based on the 99% chance he did something wrong he was right to be detained vs. people who claim on the 1% chance a grown, violently inclined young man was fleeing from a diminutive Asian woman for some unknown, innocent reason he should have been left to go about his business.

Sorry, you have failed to engage my sympathy for the bloke, though based on your unconditional sense of compassion you might have bought your way into Heaven, if in fact it exists.
posted by squeakyfromme at 3:50 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


« Older Playgrounds from years gone by. Bonus. Previous ...  |  Mercedes Sosa, a beloved Argen... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments