Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Deadly mob beating unnerves Cleveland neighborhood

This story on the AP gives me pause.

CLEVELAND (AP) — Even by tough, urban-crime standards it was a grisly attack: Up to 15 people chased a man, then kicked and beat him to death on the street. Before police arrived, one attacker urinated on the victim's head.

When the crime-hardened neighborhood awoke later that morning, two people reported a man lying on the pavement, his clothes being dragged off by his assailants.

"You got a male being assaulted by 15 other guys. He's laying on the street," one 911 caller said.

The April 27 attack on Charles Gooden Jr. happened in the most murder-ridden neighborhood in one of the nation's poorest cities. But it was also within a 10-minute drive of the city's skyscrapers, sports venues and tourist attractions.

The motivation for the attack seems so childish as to be laughable. The sort of thing that if a writer put it in their story most people wouldn't find it credible.

Conwell said the motive was based on an argument involving a woman and a threat by her cousin against Gooden, 41.

"He went to defend his malehood honor. He hit the cousin in the mouth. When that happened, the other gang members jumped on him," said Conwell, relying on information from police and neighbors.

Charged in the slaying were Latangia Anderson, 23, Johnny Brown, 20, and Paris Moore, 19, all of Cleveland. They were each jailed on $1 million bond.

So that's it. One guy feels offended, so he hits a guy. Then the crowd beats him to death and pisses on his corpse.

I'll note, in an attempt to salvage something from this sad story, is that apparently none of the parties involved were armed.

Sad proof, if some was needed, that people's actions aren't defined by their tools. The absence of firearms does not equate to the absence of violence.

In fact, that the witnesses were unarmed and no police were around seems a likely contributing factor to the man's death. There was no one there to stop the mob. Just people left to call 911:

"They're stomping somebody and ripping their clothes off. You need to come," another caller said. "Like 15 of them beating the hell out of him."

The emergency dispatcher asked if an ambulance should be sent. "You better bring a stretcher, too," the caller replied. "Please hurry."

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