30 November, 2010 Vigilantism Means Vigilance It is highly unlikely that many of us in the twenty-first century have to worry about cattle rustlers, horse thieves, or claim jumpers. We are probably safe from train robbers, bushwhackers, and Comanche raiding parties as well. Sure we live in the best nation on the planet, but we can not assume our lawmakers and representatives are always going to do what is right or just. Even with the modern conveniences, technology, and public services we enjoy today, there will be circumstances when ordinary citizens have to take an active role in order to keep our streets and neighborhoods safe.Also, we can not take for granted our under-staffed and under-funded law enforcement agencies will always respond quickly enough to protect us in time from all emergencies.
Police departments, fire departments, and emergency services do not a safe community make. To ensure safety and freedom in our communities citizens must remain forever vigilant. We can not forget that the root word of vigilante is ‘vigilant’. According to Webster’s Dictionary vigilant means “alertly watchful, attentive”. Without proper attentiveness our society could slip into anarchy and lawlessness.
It is our responsibility as patriotic Americans to be diligent.We owe it to ourselves, our children, and future generations. It is only through diligence, persistence, and perseverance can we keep our children, grandchildren, families, friends, and communities safe from drug dealers, drunk drivers, criminals, and random acts of violence. Over the years some extremists have used excessive force and violence to enforce their cause or beliefs. These people, and their organizations, have given vigilant citizens a bad name. As long as we use restraint and possess the moral rectitude to do what is right in times of crisis, vigilantism can provide a valuable service to our communities and neighborhoods,One of the things that make this country so great is there are so many people willing to step out of their comfort zones, sometimes at great personal risk, to take whatever actions considered necessary to guarantee the safety and freedom of future generations.
If it were not for vigilantism and hard work, and in some cases outrage, we would not have some of the worthwhile causes and organizations that have made positive strides toward improving public safety and improved quality of life such as, Neighborhood Watch and MADD (Mother‘s Against Drunk Driving).The founder MADD, Candice Lightner, was spurred into action in 1980 after her thirteen year old daughter, Cari, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run drunk driver as she walked down a suburban street in California. According to Otto Friedrich of Time Magazine, “ police arrested 46 year old Clarence Busch and found that he had a long record of DUII arrests. ” Friedrich also states, “ less than a week earlier, he had been bailed out on a hit-and-run drunk driving charge. ” A policeman told Lightner that it was unlikely Busch would spend any time behind bars for killing her daughter.Lightner was justifiably outraged and decided to take matters into her own hands and formed MADD. Because Lightner, an ordinary citizen, took drastic action after the senseless, tragic, and preventable death of her daughter, many people would consider her a vigilante.
However, because of her vigilance, persistence, and selflessness she was determined that no other parent should experience the type of catastrophic loss she had suffered. As a result of her vigilantism we now have tougher laws and stiffer penalties for drunk driving offenders.Even more importantly, public awareness has been raised exponentially and attitudes toward drunk driving have changed drastically over the last twenty years. Her actions have undoubtedly saved thousands of lives over the last two decades. Another example of ordinary citizens going above and beyond the call of duty, risking their own lives, to protect their families and neighborhood took place in Southern California. In 1984 and 1985 Southern California was being terrorized by Richard Ramirez, alias the Night Stalker. Ramirez had been linked to over thirty murders, numerous rapes, sexual assaults, burglaries, assaults, and attempted murders.
According to Charles Montaldo of About. com Crime/Punishment, “on August 30, 1985 Ramirez got off a Greyhound bus and walked into a liquor store. The woman working inside recognized him and began yelling that he was the Night Stalker. ” Once she began screaming and yelling out his identity, he quickly fled the store and headed toward the heavily Hispanic populated area of East Los Angeles. Almost immediately , a small mob had formed and were following closely behind him.
After an unsuccessful attempt to steal a car, the mob in pursuit of Ramirez now armed with steel rods, caught up with him.Even as Ramirez made threats to shoot, the mob refused to back down. Charles Montaldo of About. com Crime/Punishment states,“ he was subdued, while some of the mob beat him, until police arrived. ” Reportedly, “Ramirez raised his hands, begging for police protection, and identified himself as the Night Stalker. ” If these ordinary citizens had not taken the law into their own hands, there is no telling how many more innocent people could have been victimized by this psychotic, satanic worshiping lunatic.
Fortunately, we have people right here in our own community who are not afraid to get involved when the need arises.Take Aaron Craig, a Bend man, for example. In July, 2007 Aaron was driving near the corner of Nashville Avenue and Harmon Boulevard, near Drake Park, when he saw Jeff Weinman punching Meredith Graham And shoving her to the ground. Once Graham fell to the ground, Weinman kicked her multiple times and then kneeled down and continued punching her in the face and abdomen. Aaron Craig jumped out of his car, putting his own safety at risk to help a stranger. According to Christopher Stoller of the Bend Bulletin, “ Craig approached Weinman from behind and grabbed his neck.He pulled Weinman away from Ms Graham and hung onto him until a passerby ran up to help.
” The two restrained him for about five minutes until the Bend Police arrived. Stoller of the Bulletin also stated, “ when police tried to take Weinman into custody, he resisted arrest until a Taser was fired. ” Bend Police Officer Sgt. Paul Kansky said, “ if nobody had intervened, she could have been injured much, much worse, or even killed. ” There is no doubt Weinman would not have stopped beating Meredith Graham without Craig’s intervention. Craig’s vigilantism prevented Graham from becoming another senseless murder statistic.
Because of Craig’s actions Graham was able to return home, albeit after a few days in the hospital, to her family and friends. In conclusion, these are just a few examples the kind of difference ordinary citizens can make when they choose to get involved. There will always be extraordinary circumstances that require citizens to take action in order to keep our streets and neighborhoods safe. We may no longer have to worry about range wars or being ambushed while riding the fence line along the back forty, but we can not afford to be any less vigilant than our ancestors were 150 years ago in the lawless west.
If we want to create a better, safer, future for our kid and grandkids we can not be sitting idly by waiting for someone else to make our streets, parks, and playgrounds safe. If we are not willing to do it for our kids, who will? Freedom is not free.Works Cited Friedrich, Otto, et. al. “Man of the Year” Time.
com. Time Magazine, 9 August, 2009. Web. 12 November, 2010 Montaldo, Charles. “Richard Ramirez – The Night Stalker” About. com:Crime/Punishment About. com n. d.
Web. 12 November, 2010 Stollar, Christopher. “Man Arrested After Attack in Bend Park”, bend bulletin. com. Bend Bulletin, 12 July, 2007. Web.
13 November, 2010