BATMAN IN REAL LIFE? Actual vigilanteism in Canada.

Men charged in Grand Manan fracas in court Friday (Monday, July 24, 2006 )

Five men from Grand Manan Island charged in connection with last month’s attack on a reputed crack house are due in court Friday for bail hearings.

Some of the men are facing weapons charges and two are charged with arson.

Police say a large group of people attacked a house, beat up some of its residents and burned it down on July 22. Neighbours say the house was a drug den.

The riot began when a fight broke out between a group of residents from Castalia and people from off the island.

At some point during the four-hour battle, RCMP say a house was torched twice and shots were fired at a car.

The three officers on Grand Manan, about 35 kilometres off New Brunswick in the Bay of Fundy, were at the scene, but were only able to make one arrest at the time.

The five men have been charged in the weeks since the riot.

Many people on Grand Manan say the men who’ve been charged are heroes for doing something about the island’s drug problem.

The men’s lawyer has asked supporters not to come to the bail hearing in St. Stephen, but the men’s mothers are expected to come to the courthouse.

The men have been kept in custody at undisclosed locations over concerns they could be at risk from inmates convicted of drug-related crimes.

Grand Manan Five burned house

Please write a response to this situation by answering the following question of in least 3 lines :

In your opinion, are there times when the actions of a vigilante are justified or even required?  Why or why not? 

Evaluation:      /10 (see below)

UPDATE: A jury just handed down their verdict to the Grand Manan Five yesterday (Saturday, November 18, 2006). If you would like to read more about this case, press on the link below and it should take you there. (Otherwise, simply go to www.cbc.ca and search for “Grand Manan”.)

Link: Grand Manan Five verdict

Thank you!

Mr. Cooke

COMMUNICATION

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~ by mistercooke on Sunday, November 19, 2006.

24 Responses to “BATMAN IN REAL LIFE? Actual vigilanteism in Canada.”

  1. In my opinion, i believe that the law should not be taken into our own hands. Something much worse could possibly happen if things get out of hand. You should call the police and give them all the information you have, so they can carry out an investigation. Police are trained for scenarios like this, we as everyday citizens, are not.

  2. Very true, K.R. I’m not sure if you read the CBC story or not, but the situation these people found themselves in was quite complicated in terms of morals. I think they believed their community was in danger so they desired change, yet the courts are saying that the five men went too far.

    Thanks for commenting,
    Mr. Cooke

  3. if i lived in a town, and a bunch of drug pushers came in and were basically pushing them onto the local kids, then id have something to say.Like if you think about it then you would probably not want your kids to do drugs and they’d be just that much easier to getin a smaller town. Overall what the 5 men did wasnt right in theory, but after reading that im all for what they did. Im sure thatthey said something to the resisdants of the house in order for it to get that far.
    Theres most likely alot of stuff that the reporter are leaving out to help justify for the 5 men, and make you think what they did was wrong.

  4. “Theres most likely alot of stuff that the reporter are leaving out to help justify for the 5 men, and make you think what they did was wrong.”

    That is a insightful comment, mf. There are many critics of what we call the “news” because, they say, it is not objective or purely factual because certain facts are left in or deleted depending on what the reporter wants to say…

    Thanks,
    Mr.C

  5. Situations like these are for the police and detectives to deal with. What they could’ve done was contact the police department about the situation and they will probably get right on it(hopefully). For something so serious, nobody should take it into their own hands because the innocent people, who are just trying to help, end up getting in trouble, and as a result more people get hurt.

    Sarah

  6. In my opinion, I don’t think that this case was completely justifiable, but I believe in some cases it could be. For example, say you had children and you were living in this neighbourhood with not enough money to move, and one of the people from this ‘drug house’ tried to sell some of their ‘merchandise’ to one of your children. Say the police in this city were corrupt and ‘in’ on these operations, and would therefore do nothing to stop them. In this case, I think it would be perfectly justifiable to take matters in to your own hands, but I believe that that idea should only be taken so far. Once it gets to the point of injuring or possibly even killing another, it should no longer be justifiable.
    —————————————————————-
    *What If?*

  7. Very true, Sarah. I’m certain that the police and prosecutors were trying to determine that very idea: did these people have no other choice than to take the law into their own hands? From the point of view of the law, Batman is a lawless vigilante; from the point of view of ordinary citizens, he may (like these Grand Manan Five) be a hero. It’s complicated, isn’t it?

    Thanks for writing,
    Mr. C

    Joe~
    At their trial, the Grand Manan Five attempted to say that they felt their lives were in danger. And there does exist in the law books a section about “justifiable violence or homocide”. I do think that there are some situations where the police are virtually powerless until a line is crossed by the perpetrator or the victim. A victim may not want to wait until said line is crossed and may decide to act pre-emptively. Would they be wrong for doing so? It’s hard to say…

    Thanks for writing,
    Mr. C

  8. I think that what they did was good to a certain extent but then it was also bad. They helped the community out by stopping the drug problem, but also made a big scene by shooting at people and blowing the house up. I think they went a little too far with that, but who knows they if they didn’t do that maybe a lot more people would have gotten hurt from it in the long run. The court can’t say you had weapons and did harmful things to our community but that is okay because you have stopped our drug problem.

    I would imagine that the jury have (had) a very tricky situation on their hands because the law says one thing but the lessons of real life often teach us quite different things, such as protecting one’s community in the face of drugs.
    Thanks for sharing ~
    Mr. C.

  9. the think the mens actions done with good intentions but the fact of the matter is that what they did was a crime no matter what the public says. the situation could have been handled in a more controlled way where no was hurt. the men probaly hurt matters more by torching the house as that would destroy evidence against the drug dealers and would get them off any charges and they would be able to do it again. overall they were wrong in their doings and wiil now have to face their punishments.

    Whenever a case like this is presented on a television crime-drama, the prosecutors often have no sympathy whatsoever for vigilantes for reasons that you expressed: they could have found a better way. Still, I’m not sure what I would have done…
    Thanks for writing,
    Mr. C.

  10. i am a 23 year-old female resident of grand manan. i have lived here my whole life, in fact in the very village of castalia where the riots occurred. i want every one who reads this to know that in spite of recent events, grand manan is a beautiful and generally tranquil place to live. i know all five of the “vigilantes” and their families, in fact i am even related to one of them. although i have mixed feelings about the whole incident back in july, i truly believe that these men whom i have always know to be hard-working and friendly people, acted out of in their minds what was desperation. my heart goes out to them and their families during this difficult time. i want every one out there to know that grand manan is not some back-woods town run by a bunch of gun-slinging hicks and bumpkins. we are as a community a hard-working, generous, strong, and friendly bunch. i love this island. this community is my home, and it always will be.

    Thank you very much, manangirl, for adding to our discussion. We are a Grade 12 English class who read a graphic novel about Batman, who is a famous yet fictional vigilante. After we talked about whether Batman was or wasn’t a hero based on his actions, I wanted the students to express an opinion about the topic when it occured in real life. So, I happened upon this case and here we are. No disrespect was intended to you or your family members.

    Sincerely,
    Mr. Niall Cooke
    mistercooke@inbox.com

  11. I believe that what these men did is not worthy of a serious punishment, if any. The police didn’t do anything about the situation and it kept progressing until the matter got out of hand. These men did what needed to be done in order to protect their community. Obviously it could have been handled in a better way, i mean torching a house isnt really the best way to settle a dispute, but the article doesn’t state how the situation evolved. Maybe the men believed that if something didnt happen to the drug house soon then something would happen to their community. Hopefully the judge goes easy on them.

    You bring up what I imagine would be a very critical part of the men’s defence: what led up to these events? Perhaps it is easy for us to judge them one way or the other simply based on the events of that day, yet the larger context often forces people to change their perspective, even slightly.
    Thanks for writing,
    Mr. C.
    P.S. The men were sentenced recently. If you want to know what their punishment was, go to: http://www.cbc.ca

  12. in my opinion the 5 men did do something bad but in a positive way, if the house was a “drug den”. I think that people should be able to do something about a problem that is being over looked by a higher power. Since these men said that they were doing it to benefit the comunity I don’t think they should be prosicuted like a murder of a person for personal reasons. to conclude this I give them a hand shake for their courage to stick up for their town, knowing they could be prosicuted.

    The fact that these men did decide to take action is very interesting to me. Now that I am aware of this case, I often wonder what I would do if a “drug den” opened just down the street… It’s a tough question.

    Thanks for writing,
    Mr. C.

  13. I believe these men where completely right to do what they did. I feel that they did this to protect their town and that is the way it should be if th cops weren’t so useless the men would of never have had to do this.

    Perhaps the law has too many parts to it and should be simplified for situations such as this… I do feel that these situations are often much more complicated than we realize…

    Thanks for writing,
    Mr. C.

  14. After reading this story I stopped and thought about what I would do if I was put in that situation. Obviously these men are somewhat leaders of their community and they felt a need to protect their town and the people in it. Drugs are a serious problem in some places and especially in a small community such as Grand Manan. If you are in carge of the safety and well being of your community, it is expected that you are to do what you need to do to secure that safety and in this case they did what they needed to do. It is apparent that what they did is against the law but in my opinion it is important to stand up for what you believe in and take action when it is necessary. Kudos to the five men for their bravery and inspirational move for their community.

    I would imagine that for these community leader people, situations like this are very frustrating and must make them feel very anxious because they do have a responsibility to community safety but also to upholding the law… I don’t envy them their positions.

    Thanks for writing,
    Mr. C.

  15. I don’t think they should have did this. I don’t think people should be able to take crime in there own hands. They should have called the cops and told them about the drug house.


    I wonder if the police are obliged to investigate a community complaint if it is made…

    Thanks for writing,
    Mr. C.

  16. The people had done something that they felt they needed to do because no authority would help them. I think they did what they thought was right. They could have come about what they did in a different way.


    I do agree that people who take a stand about an important community issue should be applauded for getting involved but I too am unsure about their methods…

    Thanks for writing,
    Mr. C.

  17. I think that acts of vigilantism will never be justified by the police. They are respsonsible for the citizens protection. Who says taht the five men did this to protect others. Perhaps they had a grudge against the residents of the house. i do not think that the actions of the vigilante are even required. The police are there for a reason. When somebody takes the law into their own hands it is causing danger to everybody else.

  18. I think that when these men decided to get rid of the problem they didn’t think that it mattered that they were breaking the law. In terms of doing the right thing according to society they did not. However they did do their town of Grand Manon a favor by getting rid of the drug house. If they were to wait for the police to take care of it, they would probably take too long before the police acctually did something about it and then it could have been to late. i think that in this case the actions of these mens were justified eventhought they broke laws and could have avoided taking matters that far.

  19. I think that when these men decided to get rid of the problem they didn’t think that it mattered that they were breaking the law. In terms of doing the right thing according to society they did not. However they did do their town of Grand Manon a favor by getting rid of the drug house. If they were to wait for the police to take care of it, they would probably take too long before the police acctually did something about it and then it could have been to late. I think that in this case the actions of these men were justified eventhought they broke laws and could have avoided taking matters that far.

  20. In my opinion, they were only trying to help the community by getting rid of the crack house so the community would be a better place. I don’t think they should have burnt it down but called the police instead.

  21. Because they DID burn it down, there might have been a reason why….maybe because the police weren’t doing anything about the crack house, and they took it into their own hands.

  22. I graduated from GMHS…..let’s just say quite a while ago. While I no longer live on the Island, I have great love and respect for it and the people who live and work there.

    I am absolutly convinced that Islanders felt they were out of options to protect their children and community from the grave dangers that drugs can wreak.

    The five men stepped up and made a stand, and I applaud them for that. I also believe that every one of them understood what repercussions they might face, and they were and are willing to face them head on. Again I applaud them for that.

    My opinion on this changed a few years ago, when my daughter’s friend was attecked by young thugs with weapons and serverely injured, in her presence. As angry as I was, I had taught my children to follow the law, and we worked with the police and crown prosecuter for about a year on this case. In the end, a plea bargain was allowed and only one of the thugs was sentenced…to 4 months. We found out through CBC news.

    I submit that when it comes to protecting those you love, if there is no trust in the system, one steps up and accepts the consequences of thier actons. Hiding our heads in the sand or losing the life or health of our loved ones doesn’t appear to change the system.

    Actions do.

  23. I Think that it was good and they shouldn’t get charged

  24. In this case the men were wright in doing what they did, but in spite of thet they should all be charged because the whole law system would crash if the cops just let people do what they see is fit to fix a problem. Those people could have been killed and I do not think that the penalty for selling drugs should be burning to death.

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