That’s what two (black) witnesses to the Mobile mob beating of Matthew Owens said a lot of people on the scene were yelling when they came up, just in time to see Owens’ pursuers run into the yard behind him. The yard is bordered by high bushes, so it is difficult to see, especially at dark, what is going on behind the bushes if you are not already there or looking in via the driveway.
But the witnesses said, first, that about 20, maybe 25 people poured into the yard. And with that many people in a yard with very little egress opportunity, it is clear that the mere presence of all those people, unless they were there to stop the attackers, would have the effect of cornering Owens. They said, second, that there was so much yelling that it was difficult to tell what the predominant message of the yellers was, but that some bpeople were clearly yelling to call the police and to not go into the yard — remarks presumably aimed at the attackers as well.
In other words, at least some people on the scene were, by this telling, trying to act responsibly.
My witnesses said they don’t know how long the beating went on. They vamoosed back down the block to call the police — but the police came onto the scene very quickly, so somebody else probably already made the call.
Finally, let it be said that there does seem to be a bit of the equivalent of omerta going on here: No matter how many people were around that night, nobody seems to be able to identify a single other person who was on the scene. Everybody to whom I’ve spken who says they were on the scene says they weren’t part of the crowd in the yard, that they didn’t know who any of the pursuers were, that they can’t identify even those who tried to do the right thing, and that it was all a big jumble.
But there were about 20 people in the yard. Some of them apparently were trying to do the right thing. Those same people should do the right thing now by telling the police exactly who else was there and exactly what happened. And police should find ways to make them feel safe in doing so.
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