Two Shomrim members in Baltimore are presently being tried for assaulting a black teen, and the trial is getting a fair amount of press:
CH info » Jewish neighborhood watch groups in New York City have faced accusations of unnecessary force against blacks, creating tensions between the Jewish and black communities. That hasn't yet happened in Baltimore, according to the Rev. Alvin Gwynn Sr., president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. The organization of predominantly black clergy met with leaders of the area's Jewish community to keep relationships between the two communities strong.
“We were already working with them when this came up,” Gwynn said. “It hasn't done much damage yet.”
Baltimore is a city that's 64 percent black, and the jury will likely have eight or nine black members. So race will be a factor, said University of Baltimore School of Law professor and practicing attorney Byron Warnken.
more press here and here.
While legal outcome of the case should be interesting, I fear cases like this will make "good people" hesitant to participate in neighborhood watches:
a. They don't want the negative actions of some other member(s) of the group to reflect on them.
b. They fear that if accused of something, they would be on their own to defend themselves.
Establishing a neighborhood watch usually stems from a balance between competing forces. For example, the public may realize that the police can not be everywhere at once, yet might not want "more police" because they do not feel the solution involves the courts.
On the other hand, some members of the public want more police attention, yet can't get it.
The police walk a similar line: They would love for crime to go down, but are weary of being seen coaching neighborhood volunteers who may engage in actions that make their jobs even more difficult.
If my fear comes true, we will have less thinking, cautious people willing to participate in neighborhood watches and more people looking for excitement and revenge.