Collective Violence – Examples – Part III

It’s been 16 days since my last Mob Violence post. The delay isn’t due to lack of material but instead to being overwhelmed with material. The news from the Patna area of India would be enough by itself to fill this entry.

(If you want to know why I’m doing this, read the first posting.)

On with the show …

1.  25 March, Port Harcourt, Nigeria:

The Advocate reports on the brutal beating of a chapter director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, a gay rights group, during a funeral service: “A man approached him while the congregation sang a hymn, asking him to speak with him outside. He said he was then attacked with slapping, punching, kicking, and spitting by a group of six men.

“‘While beating me they were shouting, “You notorious homosexual, you think can run away from us for your notorious group to cause more abomination in our land?” Those who attacked me were well-informed about us, so I suspect an insider or one of the leaders of our Anglican church have hands in this attack.’ …  The attackers “said they would not rest until gays are silenced from activism.”

“Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude England, said in the release that violence against LGBT people has been encouraged by the Church of Nigeria’s leaders, including notoriously antigay archbishop Peter Akinola, who is primate of the Church of Nigeria.”

Conformity: Homosexuals are likely scapegoating targets in a majority heterosexual society, particularly one that considers homosexuality ‘an abomination.’  The attackers seem to have found meaning in their violence, announcing that they would not rest until their mission was accomplished.

2.  9 April, Karachi, Pakistan: 7 die in Pakistani clashes

“Rival groups of lawyers fought Wednesday in Pakistan, triggering greater mob violence that left at least seven people dead in Karachi, police said.

Five of the victims, including a woman, were burned alive when rioters set fire to Tahir Plaza, the Press Trust of India reported. Fifteen more people were reported injured, and a bank and several vehicles were torched, PTI said.

“The confrontation between the lawyers started near the office of the Sindh High Court Bar Association over the alleged manhandling of former federal minister Sher Aftgan in Lahore the previous night. The violence then spread elsewhere in the city with armed men exchanging gunfire at several locations, PTA reported.”  Per UPI

Conformity: Not much info here. The spreading of the violence to other quarters speaks to the contagion aspect of violence and mob actions.

3.  15 April, Zweletemba township, Worcester, South Africa:

IOL reports:

“Thomas Chamiso, 32, an Ethiopian refugee, ran the Thembikosi Trading Store in Fulang Street in Zweletemba township, Worcester. A month ago, he was one of 50 foreigners chased out of the town by local residents.

“With his four cousins, Chamiso fled Zweletemba with only their wallets and cellphones. They lost their refugee permits, business papers, financial records, identity documents and driver’s licences. ‘Maybe we will sleep on the street. What will we eat? We have nothing. How can I start a business again? I have nothing left, nothing. Who will give us money? We have lost our humanity in Worcester.’

“As one drives from the bustling town of Worcester … it is hard to imagine that this place, where the shacks have neat gardens and children play in the streets, could have been the scene of violent all-night looting of 23 foreign-owned shops.

“Foreigners, about 20 from Somalia, 15 from Ethiopia and a handful from Zimbabwe, the Congo, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh, were driven away on the night of Friday, March 7.

“The violence is said to have erupted after two shooting incidents in which a teenager was killed and a woman injured. Two Somalis have been arrested, one on a charge of murder and one on a charge of attempted murder. Both were released on bail and are scheduled to appear in Worcester Magistrate’s Court again on April 25. …

“South African shopkeeper ‘Lani’ Rasi, whose parents own Vukuzenzele Spaza Shop, said it was as though the community ‘were just hungry for violence’.”

“[Worcester police spokesperson Captain Mzikayise] Moloi said the perception of many locals that Somalis were murderous and intent on ‘killing our children’ was an issue that needed to be addressed. ‘Locals don’t acknowledge how many people their children have killed,’ he said. …

“Duncan Breen of the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (Cormsa) said the Worcester attacks seemed to fall into the same pattern as other recent xenophobic attacks across the country.

‘There appears to have been tension building for a while, and it just took a trigger to ignite into mob violence. One of the common challenges we see is that many foreign nationals and South Africans have very little interaction, which allows negative stereotypes of foreign nationals to remain unchallenged.'”

Conformity: Pretty typical choice of scapegoats, people who aren’t (for the most part) an intrinsic part of the community, strangers and unknowns on whom the locals can project all manner of evil. All ‘foreigners’ could be tarred with the same brush. What surprised me most was the police spokesperson’s comment that while locals may perceive Somalis as child killers, the same locals don’t take into account how many people their children have killed!

4. 17 April, Bihar, Patna, India: Two men lynched in Bihar for theft

“In yet another case of ‘mob justice’, two people suspected of committing a theft were lynched by a mob in a Bihar village, the police said Thursday. The victims, identified as Mahant Nat and Butan Nat, were brutally beaten after they were caught allegedly while stealing a water pump set Wednesday night in Pokhra village of Siwan district, about 150 km from here. Both victims belonged to the economically weaker nomadic Nat community.

“‘An angry mob of villagers caught them and beat them to death with bricks, bamboo sticks and iron rods. One eye of Mahant Nat was gouged out by the mob,’ police sources said.”  Reported by ThaiIndian News.

Conformity: No sense of the size of the ‘angry mob’ or the unifying aspects of the violence. As I commented last time, with the regularity of these mob lynchings in Bihar, one can only assume that the feeling of unity and peace during and following the lynching, if there is any, is extremely short-lived. The victims’ status (or lack thereof) — poor and nomadic — conforms to Girardian predictions for typical scapegoats, those on the margins.

5.  19 April, El Alto (“La Paz’s destitute and neglected satellite city”), Bolivia, S.A.:

The BBC reports on mob violence in January against two innocent bystanders mistaken for perpetrators:

“Tony and his friend arrived at a birthday party in the Bolivian city of El Alto and realised they had come empty handed. After greeting the host, they went to find a shop. But as they came out of the house a girl who had just been the victim of an attempted robbery saw them, and alerted the neighbours.

“‘People started to point at us, they started to bang the doors yelling we were robbers,’ Tony told the BBC as he walked down the streets where he was attacked, his face still swollen from the beatings.

“‘All the other people around there woke up and were coming out of their homes with whatever they had at hand, like sticks. They started to beat me insanely, with their hands, with rocks.’

“‘They were out of control, not listening at all … we were yelling: “you are confused, we are innocent, we are innocent, please”, we begged a lot, even crying’, Tony added.

(The article continues with a discussion of Bolivia’s increase in mob violence and of the distinction between community justice and mob justice.)

Conformity: The mob was not interested in the guilt or innocence of the people it was beating; they came out of their homes ready to attack whoever was there. Tony even recounts the accusatory gesture: “People started to point at us.”

6.  24 April, Bihar, Patna, India: Two [more] beaten to death in Bihar

Headline looks the same, but it’s a different case a week later, as ThaiIndian News reports:

“In two incidents of ‘mob justice’, a man was lynched for allegedly attempting to rape a girl while another man was beaten to death for opposing extramarital relations of his wife in Bihar. Mithilesh Singh was lynched for allegedly attempting to rape a girl at Kelbanni-Dahiyar village under Rosra police station in Samastipur district, about 100 km from here, police said Thursday.

“Singh entered the house of Manju Devi, a ward member in the village, and allegedly tried to rape her twelve-year-old daughter. But the family members caught him and beat him to death, a police official said.

“In another case, Nasib Paswan was beaten to death by the family members of his wife for opposing her extramarital relations in Betadi village in Bhojpur district, about 70 km from here.”

Conformity:  The first case doesn’t sound as much like mob justice as protection of a child by her family. The second case is perplexing — the man was killed by his wife’s family because he didn’t like her having an affair? Probably more to this than the short article can convey.

7.  24 April, Bihar, Patna, India: Man lynched for delay in serving tea:

“In yet another case of mob violence, a tea shop owner was beaten to death by a group of youths for delay in serving tea in Bihar’s Araria district, the police said on Thursday.  Abdul Qayum, in his 40s, was the victim of the violent act. …
The police said some youths were angered by the delay in serving tea. They first beat up Qayum’s son Bittu. When Qayum intervened to rescue his son, they severely beat him with bamboo stick and bricks, they said. He died on the way to hospital and his son was admitted to the hospital for treatment, the police said.

“According to the police, the victim was busy serving tea to people at his shop and requested others to wait for some time. But the youths took the request as an act of humiliation.”  Reported at Rediff.

Conformity: The lynching was seen as justified because the youths felt humiliated.

8.  25 April, Gotkharik village in Bhagalpur, Patna, India: Mentally challenged man lynched

From India enews: “A mentally challenged man was beaten to death by a mob in a Bihar village on charges of trying to give injections to children. … According to the police, some girl students informed the villagers that a man was trying to lure them so that he could administer injections.

“A group of people attacked him with bamboo sticks, bricks and stones. He was seriously injured and fell unconscious. Some people took him to the house of a village council member. But before the police could intervene, he was dragged out and beaten to death.

“Deputy Inspector General (eastern range) Raghunath Prasad Singh said the police were yet to identify the victim. ‘No injection needle was found (on him),’ said Singh.”

Conformity:  ‘Mentally challenged’ is almost shorthand for ‘likely scapegoat.’ (Bamboo sticks and bricks certainly seem the brutal weapons of choice in Patna.)

9.  26 April, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia:

(This is a follow-up to the actual attack, reported by GoldCoast.com.)

“Some of the teenagers responsible for a sickening attack on an off-duty Gold Coast police officer and his girlfriend have walked free from court, smiling and laughing. Meanwhile, their victims, Constable Rawson Armitage and Michelle Dodge, who have been left physically and psychologically devastated by the attack, made a secret exit from the court yesterday, away from the spotlight.

Constable Armitage “told the court he was questioning his career as a police officer, had lost his confidence and desire to have children because of the violence inflicted on him by ‘the pack of animals’.

“Of the nine teenagers sentenced in Southport District Court yesterday, six — including ringleader Tiani Slockee, 18 — walked free with either probation and community service or a suspended detention sentence.

“Two other teenagers, who assaulted Constable Armitage while he was unconscious, were sentenced to 15 months in juvenile detention.

“Many of the teenagers allowed to go free yesterday were happy to pose for the cameras, safe in the knowledge the media cannot identify them. Queensland’s Juvenile Justices Act prevents the media from doing so.

“Described as inflicting ‘mindless, gutless, mob violence’ by Crown prosecutor Stuart Shearer, the gang worked together to render the couple completely defenceless as they walked home from a night out in Coolangatta.

“Constable Armitage was beaten unconscious and his head then stomped on.

“Ms Dodge was repeatedly punched and large chunks of her hair and scalp were ripped out as she tried to call for help.

Alcohol abuse, peer pressure and a lack of parental supervision were raised as explanations for the attack.

Conformity:  The article doesn’t talk about what led the children (in their minds) to attack the couple, so it’s hard to draw conclusions. Obviously, lots of communities have alcohol abuse, lack of parental supervision, and peer pressure without mob violence resulting, though those conditions certainly increase the chances. The article does imply that the teens are perhaps not unhappy with their identity as savage attackers.

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