Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Philadelphia condones vigilante justice against presumptively innocent men accused of rape

An update of this story.

The hanging trees from the Old South have been figuratively replanted in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood. 

On a steamy day in June of 2009, an innocent man named Michael Zenquis was beaten by an angry mob after he was wrongly accused of raping an 11-year-old girl. A female onlooker yelled, "Rapist!"  He heard someone say he deserved to die while others shouted, "Kill him, kill him!"  Michael was beaten with sticks and a baseball bat. Michael was stomped. Michael was bleeding, but he kept yelling, "I'm innocent, I didn't do anything."  When the vicious attack finally ended, Michael had sustained injuries to his back, his eye, his shoulder, and his foot.

The police took Michael away but quickly discovered they had picked up the wrong guy.  So what do you think they did?  They dropped him right back in the neighborhood where the animals had beaten him. Getting out of Kensington alive became a terrifying ordeal for Michael.

In light of this despicable atrocity to an innocent man, what did the Mayor do?  What did the police commissioner do?

I'll tell you what they did: nothing.

Worse. The next day, a different mob caught up with the actual rapist, named Jose Carrasquillo. What do you think happened?  The mob gave him a brutal beating that lasted several minutes until the police got there.

So, did the mayor or the police condemn the vigilante justice? 

Exactly the opposite. The police gave two of the men who helped "apprehend" Carrasquillo $5,750 each. 

Further, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced he would not pursue criminal charges against the mob. Ramsey explained that the man's injuries were not life-threatening (the new test for assault in Philadelphia?), and, after all, emotions were running high. "From what I've seen so far," Ramsey smugly declared, "we have one victim and that's an 11-year-old girl.''

And the message this sends to people predisposed to vigilante justice is -- what, exactly?

I know, I know. It's pretty damn hard to feel sorry for a child rapist. But "feeling sorry" has nothing to do with it.  As ACLU attorney Mary Catherine Roper said: "It's shocking that the police are not going to do anything in response to what is essentially mob violence against [Carrasquillo]. This went beyond apprehending the guy.''

You see, we have no choice but to condemn the savage beating of Carrasquillo. It is impossible to accept the vigilante justice in the Carrasquillo case and condemn it in the Michael Zenquis case.

We condemn all vigilante justice precisely because of the Michael Zenquises of this world. 

Finally, word comes that Michael Zenquis is suing the city and the police. We applaud him for that, because it will put the entire ugly affair back in the spotlight. Zenquis' lawsuit claims that officers not only encouraged the "street justice" but that higher ups, including Mayor Nutter and Police Commissioner Ramsey, condoned it. The officers "specifically advised the civilians that they should use physical force against plaintiff," according to the complaint: "(T)he clear message from the officers [was] that they would be free to assault plaintiff with impunity."

Michael Zenquis has this silly notion that after he was beat up, police had a responsibility to warn the public not to take matters into their own hands. "Me being beat up like that, they should have done something about it, because I was on the ground, I was bleeding and I was hurt. I think the police should have done something about it cause they knew I was beat up," Zenquis said.

Why would the police try to stop the mobs, Michael?  After all, your beating was just unfortunate collateral damage in a "more important" war.

As we often point out, those of us who closely follow the false rape phenomenon find unmistakable patterns of gendered reactions to rape claims. Based on a fair review of the reported cases, it is reasonable to assert that men, as befitting their status since the beginning of time as women’s protectors, typically express greater outrage over rape claims than do women. The mobs in the Carrasquillo and Michael Zenquis cases were entirely or almost entirely male. Claims that women were raped often elicit a visceral reaction of outrage in men exceeding the actual harm inflicted by the crimes.

That there is no "rape culture" is aptly illustrated by the fact that the vigilantes who beat up two presumptively innocent men in the cases referenced above are far more representative of "masculinity" in our culture than is the man who actually raped the little girl.  That is not a ringing endorsement of masculinity.

Tossing political correctness aside, it is fair to remind our readers that Mayor Michael Nutter is black. The good mayor would do well to read up on America's long and painful history of overreacting to rape.  Such overreaction has had a devastating impact on the black community. His honor should read about the Duluth lynchings and a hundred others.

Maybe then he won't be so quick to condone vigilante justice.