Vigilante

For other uses, see Vigilante (disambiguation).
The Bald Knobbers, an 1880s vigilante group from Missouri, wearing crude " blackface" masks typical of the post-Reconstruction era in the United States – as portrayed in the 1919 film, The Shepherd of the Hills.

A vigilante ( /ˌvɪɪˈlænti/, /ˌvɪɪˈlænt/; Spanish:  [bixiˈlante]; Portuguese:  [viʒiˈlɐ̃t(ɨ)], [viʒiˈlɐ̃tʃi]) is a civilian or organization acting in a law enforcement capacity (or in the pursuit of self-perceived justice) without legal authority.

Vigilante conduct

"Vigilante justice" is often rationalized by the concept that proper legal forms of criminal punishment are either nonexistent, insufficient, or inefficient. Vigilantes normally see the government as ineffective in enforcing the law; such individuals often claim to justify their actions as a fulfillment of the wishes of the community.

Persons alleged to be escaping the law or above the law are sometimes the victims of vigilantism. [1]

Vigilante conduct involves certain degrees of violence. Vigilantes could assault targets verbally and/or physically, damage and/or vandalize property, or even kill individuals.

In a number of cases, vigilantism has involved targets with mistaken identities.

  • In Britain in the early 2000s, there were reports of vandalism, assaults, and verbal abuse towards people wrongly accused of being pedophiles, following the murder of Sarah Payne. [2]
  • In Guyana in 2008, Hardel Haynes was beaten to death by a mob who mistook him for a thief. [3]
  • In South Africa from the period 2002 to the present there has been an increase in vigilantism against the mining sector in response to perceived failures in the mitigation of acid mine drainage in the Witwatersrand Goldfields [4] and Mpumalanga Coalfields. [5]