Call it the 21st-century version of yelling “Fire!” in a movie theater. A 20-year-old woman, unhappy with the sentence the courts meted out to a man convicted of assaulting her roommate, shouted “Rape!” after spying him on a Baltimore sidewalk. He was immediately set upon and beaten to death by a makeshift mob.
The Balitmore Sun reports that the woman, 20-year-old Latiqwa Mayes, was walking with a friend on Sept. 2 when she spotted 52-year-old Donald Robinson.
Mayes started yelling, “He raped me. He’s a sex offender,” attracting the attention of others in the area, police wrote in charging documents. Her father, Willie Mayes, called for someone to stop Robinson, and a group of teens who were in the area playing basketball ran over and held Robinson. Strangers on the street then joined in and kicked and punched Robinson, police said at the time of the arrest, and Latiqwa Mayes pepper-sprayed him.
The incident was captured on city surveillance cameras, which show that Robinson was able to walk away from the scuffle. But he fell ill a short time later and was pronounced dead at a local hospital within 30 minutes….
Mayes and her father both pleaded guilty in to second-degree murder. At their sentencing hearing this week, they told the judge they never intended for Robinson to die. He responded by sentencing the father to ten years in prison, the daughter to six. One of the teens who took part in the beating, 18-year-old Kwan Blackburn, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was given a suspended sentence and four years’ probation.
One of the most disturbing aspects of this story of vigilante justice is the willingness with which a crowd of bystanders inflicted a deadly beating on a total stranger. And they did it based on a cue from another person they had never met.
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