Thursday, January 22, 2015

Crime and Punishment

Ignoring the police, pedestrians attack a supposed thief today on Calle 13 and Ave. Caracas.
When a criminal gets caught red handed on Bogotá's streets, he doesn't have only the police to fear: Passers-by also take the law - or, rather, street justice, into their own hands.

The guy WAS guilty. After a few more
kicks, he produced a gold-colored
chain he'd grabbed.
Without justifying lynching, one can still try to understand people's attitude. Reports of many crimes, including muggings and robberies and even homicide, rose last year, El Tiempo reported here and here. That's paradoxical with a growing economy, which presumably would have more people working legitimate jobs. The police suggest that crimes did not rise, but that reporting did. Or, the three-month judicial strike, which left many accused criminals on the street, may also have influenced things.

What is certain is a general anxiety about crime, and a common belief that even when criminals are arrested, they're freed the next day. So, some people try to apply punishment with their own hands. Literally.

This happened on Carrera Septima the other day. But the police's motives for grabbing the youth weren't clear. One observer thot he'd stolen a bike that was nearby. Others speculated that one or both of the young women present had accused him of attacking her, and then repented.

'Let my man go!'
'He's my man, too!'
But these cops had no intention of freeing the youth.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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