You're Gonna Get Yours

On September 16 in Eureka, California an alleged (at the time -- don't know the status now) robber got a little taste of what happens when people take the "law" into their own hands. The alleged robber, whom I shall call Dumb Ass simply because I don't want to use his real name without knowing his current criminal status, is 29. After pissing, shitting or doing God knows what in the bathroom of the Shell station on Fifth Strreet, Dumb Ass decided it would be a good idea to get some Camels. Who knows? Maybe it's the brand his old lady likes or something.

Now, most Camel smokers, probably the most honest of all cigarette smokers despite the brand's blatant phallic worship, pay for their smokes with hard-earned cash or government hand-outs. Not Dumb Ass. He decided to grab them from behind the counter and make a run for it.

Sean Grimes of Eureka was at the counter at the time. He was purchasing his drink of choice for that moment: Rockstar. Go figure. He heard the Shell cashier yell and looked up to see Dumb Ass coming straight at him.

Grimes, acting more like a lineback instead of a rockstar, "kind of slammed into him." With the aid of other customers they kept the capitalism safe and the alleged robber on the ground until the po-po came.

The police searched Dumb Ass, which I'm sure is their favorite part of any takedown. On him they found a homemade black jack, which he did not apparently use in the robbery. Dumb Ass was cuffed and put in the back of the car, but not before hurdling an accusation that one of the guys that held him until the police arrived hit him in the head a couple of times (probably not the first head injury he has endured) and that others threatened him.

Dumb Ass' quote that appeared in the Times-Standard was, "They told me they wanted to do street justice. They told me they wanted to put me in a six foot hole. I want that [surveillance] video as evidence."

I guess he thought if he had the video the police would not be able to view it. Regardless, the police weren't giving him the video at that point. They needed it for their own case. (Ironically, the picture that ran in the paper shows Dumb Ass in a Homeland Security t-shirt. You know the one -- it has Native Americans on it. Beautiful.)

Besides burglary, Dumb Ass was also booked on possession of a deadly weapon, possession of a hypodermic needle (I'm sure it's for insulin) and violating probation (shock). To add further insult to the indignities of near-street justice, he was also booked on 37 outstanding warrants (surely a personal best). These warrants including probation violations, failures to appear and possession of controlled substances.

This is a typical case, but what struck me as interesting was his quote about "street justice." Where I'm from, street justice wasn't holding someone down until the cops got there. Street justice was leaving them injured or dead. I know one "vigilante" supposedly said he wanted to put him in a six foot hole (and I'm sure that's not the first time Dumb Ass has heard that), but so what? The newspaper didn't report injuries. The guy was obviously still alive. There was no "street justice," and it's doubtful there would've been ... no matter how deserved it may have been.

The other thing that struck me strange was the fact that these customers were willing to step in and catch this guy. They had nothing to gain. (And could've actually been poked by a needle for their efforts. Would Shell have paid for those medical tests?) All they ended up doing was protecting a store that overcharges for food and gas. Dumb Ass didn't pull his weapon out. He didn't hurt anyone. He grabbed smokes and ran. He wanted to be gone. He didn't want to pay $45 for a carton of Camels. These "heroes," to my knowledge, don't own the store and have no personal stake in it other than being happy that Rockstar drinks can be bought there. Why the need to act? Has the protection of a corporate entity become so ingrained that you will risk life and limb in order to stop a petty theft? What happens if Dumb Ass gets out and wants to get a few friends together to do some "street justice" of their own? Was it worth it then?

I'm not saying people shouldn't act out when they see crimes being committed. In fact, I wish more people would do it, but I also wish they would be smart about it, too. Protecting capital is far different than protecting lives. Shell, a company with a spotty corporate record to say the least, is a far bigger criminal than Dumb Ass. Just ask the people of Nigeria. Shell likes purchasing weapons for the police and military there. Those weapons are then used on people who live in villages impacted by Shell. It's a good way to keep people quiet, and Shell's problems extend far beyond stealing cigarettes. If anything, these would-be heroes should be turning their alleged talk of "street justice" onto Shell. After all, $45 of lost profit is nothing compared to 200 dead bodies connected to the security forces that do work for Shell.

Really now, which is more important? Yeah, Dumb Ass deserved to finally be caught for one of his many crimes against humanity, but what about Shell and its crimes. Those police weren't doing squat about that. Doubtful they even know of it. What happens in Ogoniland stays in Ogoniland, right?

What's criminal?

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