Walter E. Williams

Police authorities often know who are the local criminals and drug lords and where crack houses are located; however, various legal technicalities hamper their ability to make arrests and raids. Law-abiding citizens are often afraid to assist police or testify against criminals for fear of retaliation that can include murder. The level of criminal activity not only puts residents in physical jeopardy but represents a heavy tax on people least able to bear it. That heavy tax includes higher prices for goods and services and fewer shopping opportunities because supermarkets and other large retailers are reluctant to bear the costs of doing business in high-crime areas.

So here's the question: Should black people accept government's dereliction of its first basic function, that of providing protection? My answer is no. One of our basic rights is the right to defend oneself against predators. If the government can't or won't protect people, people have a right to protect themselves.

You say, "Hey, Williams, you're not talking about vigilantism, are you?" Yes, I am. Webster's Dictionary defines vigilantism as: a volunteer committee organized to suppress and punish crime summarily as when the processes of law are viewed as inadequate.

Example: A number of years ago, Black Muslims began to patrol Mayfair, a drug-infested, gang-ridden Washington, D.C., housing project. The gangs and drug lords left, probably because the Black Muslims didn't feel obliged to issue Miranda warnings. Black men should set up neighborhood patrols, armed if necessary, and if politicians and police don't like it, they should do their jobs. No one should have to live in daily fear for their lives and safety.

Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
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