Comments to neighborhood vigilantes on a NextDoor thread

Nutshell: At a historic museum that has gardens, three youths (who were white) vandalized a beehive. Hive-boxes were destroyed and the queen bee went missing. (The proprietors of the facility eventually recovered the queen. Before that, a generous neighbor offered to donate the $150 to replace the queen.)


They look to be youths. One good community service, restorative justice action might be to have them make amends by learning about bees and giving a presentation for the community. That would even satisfy their “make a video” impulse — they could make a video about the importance of bees!

They could additionally be asked to do a bit of work on the property (maybe picking up litter?). Lilian Place (as well as bees) might end up getting three new advocates!


<name of person I was responding to> why are you mentioning race here? It seems irrelevant.

<name of same person I was responding to> The picture i saw here shows three young people, all WHITE.

Added a few days later: Very soon after I posted this comment (like a few minutes), it clicked in my mind that he wasn’t talking about the picture. But by the time I went to delete this comment, several people had responded to it, so I left it up in order to keep the conversation-thread intact. And, to avoid giving the impression that I was retracting my earlier comment.

My earlier comment, questioning the manner in which the commenter chose to describe the kids in the park, still stands. This is a nuanced conversation that I’m happy to have with anyone, but in a respectful manner and face-to-face rather than behind a keyboard.

Additionally added the day after my previous addition:

Context is key. Neighborhood vigilantism and mob mentality are well-documented phenomena. As is racial bias in identifying culprits of crimes. It was in that context that I asked my question.

By the way, at the time I asked my question, I was assuming that —-‘s comment about youth in Lenox Park was somehow connected to the bee incident at Lilian Place. I had to read and reread his comment over and over, before realizing he was talking about a completely unrelated incident that didn’t involve ANY of the same kids mentioned by <the person reporting the bee incident> in the original post!

This kind of linkage, lumping things together, gets people’s emotions and imaginations running amok, and before you know it we have mobs with pitchforks.

We need to be particularly careful when it comes to protecting young people and other vulnerable groups from this.

But wait, there’s more! As I texted my neighbor (and then went ahead and posted publicly): I was so grateful for your posting Gary’s DM to you. For many reasons.

1) How deferential and respectful his tone suddenly became, when responding to a man (you) respectfully challenging him, as opposed to a woman (me) respectfully challenging him. (This is a pattern in society; he just happened to be the one illustrating it today.)

2) It gives evidence that even a grown, white, male, homeowner is leery of encounters with the police. And yet he doesn’t see why anyone would be trying to protect 1) young people and 2) Black people from unnecessary police encounters. VERY telling.

Further Reading:

Google: racial bias; wrongful conviction; cross-racial identification errors. I googled “studies show white people misidentify black people in crimes” and found a lot. Also google vigilantism; mob mentality.