On a pleasant, partly sunny afternoon, an armed security guard stood watch over an apartment building in the Hubbard Farms neighborhood in southwest Detroit.
The guard wouldn’t say why he was there. But behind him last Tuesday, scrawled onto the ornate stone facade of the building, the word “rapist” could still be seen, even after efforts that morning to scrub it off. A faded blue arrow sprayed above the graffiti letters still pointed to an apartment window, still condemning whoever lived in that first-floor home.
But the 43-year-old occupant wasn’t there any longer. His family moved him, afraid he’d be killed.
Inside the homes on these tight-knit blocks and along the thriving businesses and vacant storefronts of Vernor Highway in Detroit’s Mexicantown, the former resident of that apartment is widely believed to be a rapist. His accuser is a 15-year-old girl who, as the streets have it, was cajoled into his apartment on July 17 and attacked. She’s from the neighborhood, too. She has Down syndrome. The neighborhood is furious.
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood are resorting to vigilante justice in Egypt’s power struggle. During clashes with opponents of President Mohammed Morsi last Wednesday night, the Islamists took prisoners and tortured them with beatings. Eyewitness reports suggest that the police tolerated the attacks.
The Islamists got hold of Mohammed Omar just as he was delivering bandages to a gas station where injured people were being treated. “You’re an enemy of God!” they yelled at him.
“There were five men. They beat me and dragged me away,” says Omar, a computer expert who lives in Cairo. His face is bruised and his eyes are swollen shut, and his wrists are cut from the plastic cuffs they put on him.
They took him to a sort of room consisting on one side of a gate to the presidential palace, with the other walls made up of steel barriers and police officers. Here members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups interrogated and mistreated their “prisoners.”
Mohammed Omar is one of many demonstrators who say they were held by Islamists last Wednesday, in some cases for more than 12 hours. Now, as witnesses are telling their stories of that night, a clear picture is emerging not just of the violence committed by members of the Brotherhood, but also their readiness to mete out arbitrary vigilante justice.
Mars Inc., the company that makes everything from Skittles to M&M’s to Uncle Ben’s, has joined McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and a half-dozen other companies in quitting the American Legislative Exchange Council.
ALEC, as it’s known, is a corporate-funded non-profit that writes pro-business and often anti-union draft legislation for state lawmakers to introduce in their legislatures. ALEC has come under fire recently from good-government and civil rights groups for pushing voter identification bills that critics say discriminate against blacks and Hispanics. ALEC foes have also blasted the organization for promoting so-called Stand Your Ground laws like the one at the center of the Trayvon Martin shooting.
Bob Edgar, the president of Common Cause, one of the groups in the anti-ALEC coalition, hailed Mars’ decision. “Its leaders understand that continued support for ALEC’s advocacy of vigilante justice and assaults on voting and employee rights, public schools, and reasonable environmental regulations is neither good business nor good corporate citizenship,” Edgar said in a statement.
Florida police are under mounting pressure to arrest a neighbourhood watch captain who shot dead an unarmed teenager following dramatic new evidence from the victim’s girlfriend.
The family of Trayvon Martin, 17, say the account from his girlfriend completely contradicts his killer’s self-defence claim.
In a dramatic press conference on Tuesday, the Martin family’s lawyer Benjamin Crump detailed how the unnamed girl - a minor who was so traumatised by Martin’s death she was taken to hospital at his wake - was talking to him on his cell phone in the minutes leading up to his death, and heard the altercation with his killer.
Martin, 17, was shot by Hispanic volunteer watch captain George Zimmerman, who spotted the teenager while patrolling the neighbourhood on a rainy evening in February. Zimmerman, 28, claims he shot the teenager with his licensed 9mm handgun in self-defence during a confrontation.
The failure of local police to arrest Zimmerman in the three weeks since the shooting - and the release of 911 tapes that reveal he followed Martin, despite a warning by a police dispatcher not to - has fuelled a fierce debate on race, vigilante justice and a “stand your ground” law in Florida that allows people to defend themselves using deadly force.