The Modern Lynch Mob

mobMention the word ‘lynch’ and you’ll invoke thoughts of historical events of days gone by, blacks being hung from trees by racist mobs, the Ku Klux Klan, or some western movie you saw with the local sheriff standing in front of the jail with a shotgun, holding off the murderous mob of citizens who are intent on stringing up a prisoner.  Lynching has not been confined to the United States, but it is certainly been more prevalent in our country than in others.  Lynching as most people think of it has all but disappeared, but it has been replaced with a new form of lynching that can be done with a keyboard.

Over the past couple of days I have seen numerous articles, columns, posts, editorials, tweets, etc about the shooting of Terance Crutcher by a Tulsa police officer.  If you’re not familiar with the shooting, this article by ABC News is fairly detailed and an unbiased description of the events.  There is a key sentence at the beginning of the article that is apparently irrelevant to a lot of people who have written about this shooting.

“Many of the details about the circumstances that led to the incident remain uncertain, but here’s what we know.”

Many of the details remain uncertain.

That has not stopped people from calling for officer who shot Crutcher to be charged with murder. Some have said the officer should be executed. Some have said she should also be shot.  As of this writing it’s been reported that the officer has been receiving numerous death threats and the Tulsa Police Department Twitter account has been temporarily deactivated “due to the overwhelming volume of violent and profane posts on the Tulsa Police Department’s twitter account.”

I was surprised to read a blog written by someone whose views I usually respect noting that no officer has been arrested, there is no grand jury (it’s only been 5 days!) and that the officer is getting a “paid vacation” for killing a “stranded motorist.”

What’s very troubling about all this is exactly what ABC News said at the beginning of their article.

Many of the details remain uncertain.

The internet jury has already tried, convicted and sentenced the officer to prison or to be executed based solely on some misinformation and the video.  Even now, there are articles being put out that have conflicting information. Some still use the phrase “stranded motorist.” Some say that citizens had called 911 because he left his still-running vehicle in the middle of the road and was telling people to get away from his vehicle because it was going to blow up. Which is it? If you’re going to sentence an officer to prison or to death via your keyboard, shouldn’t you have complete and correct information? Or does that even matter to you?

Yes, yes, I can hear you shouting at your monitor, “Watch the video!”  I have watched it. It’s not conclusive. It’s not a clear enough video and also does not contain complete information. What happened before the video starts? What interaction was there between Crutcher and the officers before the beginning of the video? What is being said by him, if anything, and to him? Can you tell from the video if he is a stranded motorist or is his vehicle still running? Does he appear to be high on drugs, as one officer stated? Can you tell that from the video?

I have also read conflicting comments on what the video does show. Some said his arms were raised when he was shot. Some said his right arm was at his waistband. Some said he was reaching into his vehicle. Some said the window on his vehicle was up. Some said the window on his vehicle was down. Some said he was shot and fell to the ground. Some said he was tased, fell to the ground and was then shot.

Which is it?

So many different opinions on what a video shows just prove that even the video is inconclusive as to what actually happened.  And it certainly does not give the entire account with all the necessary information to determine what exactly transpired on the road that evening.

Yesterday it was reported that the police found PCP in Crutcher’s vehicle. Today I read that he just completed a nine-year prison term for trafficking illegal drugs, has numerous convictions that include resisting arrest and that he had open warrants that would most assuredly have sent him back to prison had he been taken into custody. Hardly the peaceful family man that some are making him out to be. While these facts certainly don’t give justification to shooting him, it disproves the narrative that he was a wonderful man who was hunted down and executed by racist police.

The officer who shot Crutcher gave her statement to investigators two days ago. No doubt the other officers at the scene have also given statements. The toxicology report on Crutcher will take time.

How about waiting for all the facts to come in and the investigation to be completed before sentencing the officer to prison or execution?

It’s easy to sit behind a keyboard, watch a video on a monitor and decide that you know exactly what transpired. But you don’t. And neither do I.

The people demanding prosecution or execution for the officer before the investigation is even completed are nothing but a modern-day lynch mob. Facts don’t matter. Complete and correct information doesn’t matter. They demand their pound of flesh and they want it right now!

Lynch mobs in the days of old had no keyboards and had to actually go out and string someone up in order to assuage their anger. I suppose it should be considered a good thing that the internet mob can release their rage by typing death threats instead of looping a rope over a tree.

Lynch mobs are a repugnant bunch and the modern-day internet lynch mob has certainly earned that characterization.

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