Monday, December 1, 2008

Vigilante 601

A vigilante is a self appointed watchman. He/she keeps watch over a community to see that all is as it should be according to how he/she interprets the law.

Back in the early days of the West there weren’t enough peace officers to go around. So vigilante committees like the 601 were formed by law abiding citizens to enforce the law. The problem was, these vigilantes weren’t above breaking the law in order to enforce it. They were justified because after all, they were the good guys.

Many a person was lynched because the vigilantes determined the law against murder had been broken. Why waste time with a judge, jury and a trial? The 601 were only good guys wanting to keep their community safe and peaceful. If they stepped over the line, they only did so in the name of goodness and decency…Tell it to the poor bastards they left swinging on the end of a rope.

Those loud mouthed hooligans who disturbed the community’s tranquility might not have been hanged, but they received warnings to leave town or else. Or else meant the hooligan had lost the freedom to come and go as he/she saw fit. Not by any judgment in a court of law, not even because he/she was cooling his/her heels in the local jail. The vigilantes limited the hooligan’s constitutionally guaranteed right to liberty in order to maintain law and order and peace and decency. Why not? They'd already denied the man swinging in the tree his.

Historians can surmise some names of the vigilante groups, but not all…Not really so proud of their own lawlessness, the vigilante 601 hid behind anonymity and masks.

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