Fed-Up With Government, Hartford Residents Form 'Self-Defense Brigade'

P. Gardner Goldsmith | June 10, 2024
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In political philosophy class, my students and I make quick work of exposing the yarn that “the people” create the government, (i.e. the polis) to protect lives and property from attacks and threats of attack by other people. First, that implies that the imposition of the polis is voluntary, which is counter to the very difference between a polis and society. All political systems are imposed on people, while interpersonal agreements in society are voluntary. But, second, the idea that “people” create the polis in order to protest their lives and property is undercut by the fact that the government mandates that you cough up portions of your wealth in order to fund it. That’s called a protection racket, not real protection, and residents of Hartford, Connecticut are starting to expose just how fallacious and unworkable that philosophical mythology actually is.

Bryan Llenas reports for Fox News that numerous residents of crime-ridden Hartford, Connecticut have taken up arms to defend their neighborhood, after seeing the utter incompetence and waste of the government-based police force that eats their tax cash like carpenter ants eat the timber-frames of one’s home.

“The so-called "Self-Defense Brigade" — made up of about 40 legally armed citizens — are voluntarily patrolling the streets of Hartford’s North End wearing body cameras mostly on nights and weekends, according to the group’s founder, Cornell Lewis.”

Hold on, now. How can people protect THEMSELVES? And with firearms, no less!

I thought protection required involuntary servitude to the government, that it required the government pointing its guns at us to make us cough up tax money to pay the police that are supposed to stop aggression and theft…

That’s sarcasm, of course, again utilized to highlight the tautological arguments that statists use to purportedly justify their claim of legalized plunder, but in this Hartford group we can see the canard of statism exposed, in real time.

These people actually ARE voluntarily joining to police their neighborhood. As opposed to the false narrative told to us by so many politicians that government is “by the people” when, by definition, government imposes, while society demands peaceful and voluntary association, these people ARE voluntarily, peacefully, uniting for their own protection.

No government force necessary.

Writes Llenas:

“When the armed volunteers are not on the streets, the group monitors video feeds from a dozen drones hovering over the neighborhood, and 75 home surveillance cameras in the neighborhood.”

Pretty creative, and, likely, a lot less expensive than the government-run, tax-mandated so-called “protection” of the political world.

And, in case you wondered, the city is run by Democrats, who, generally speaking, oft excoriate peacefully-minded people who want to exercise their right to keep and bear arms, and, instead, demand that those people shell out tax money, or else see police come to their door to arrest them for tax evasion.

Those would be…armed police.

Llenas’ conversation with Mr. Lewis reveals more:

"’The Democratic machine in Hartford is either unwilling or unable, incapable of doing it, and people are paying their tax dollars, and they're not really getting any kind of service,’ Lewis told Fox News. ‘So we want the people to understand, number one, self-defense is not a dirty word.’”

And, really, does anyone actually have a right to demand that one’s neighbor pay for one’s protection? I can’t tell my neighbor to hand over cash for my protection. That, in itself, is threatening act of aggression. I only have a right to provide for my own protection, to accept offers of it from others, and to join with others for voluntarily achieved protection agreements.

I have no right to impose this on anyone – which is the manner in which the so-called “justified” government always operates, even as the politicians routinely proclaim their own importance and deride anyone who wants to be left alone.

Hartford’s Democratic Mayor Arunan Arulampalam has denounced the group over concerns they will enact vigilante justice.”

Curiously, in philosophy class, the students and I also break down the fact that any government-based “justice” system isn’t actually providing justice, because the system exists through the forced expropriation of money from taxpayers in order to function.

Related: UK Police Admit: Electric Cop Cars Run Out of Charge While Responding to Calls

Regardless of which parties win in any court situation, they all lose overall to the government, which absorbs their money regardless of whether they win or lose a particular case, and regardless of whether the people it taxes ever use the system or are thrust into the courts.

In my TV writing career, I’ve been ripped-off twice. Despite seeing lines of dialogue I wrote actually spoken by actors on television shows for which I never got credit, I never sued the script-thieves, because I would be utilizing a government court to get “justice’ – and that meant some other people were paying for my day in court.

Some might say, “we all pay” and “with such tax payments, people reserve their spot in court in case they need it,” but that’s not for me to tell another person. That’s the fatuous language of a thief who imposes his or her own reasoning on others to “justify” the expropriation of that other person’s funds, contrary to what he might want.

And for those who still think the gangland operation of the government is morally acceptable, there are the practical problems of waste, and the fact that the government rarely allows for competition – so people who are dissatisfied cannot decline to pay.

It’s a different story for the vigilantes in Hartford. Everything is volunteer, and focused on local ties, on neighbors caring for neighbors.

“The group began patrolling the neighborhood at the behest of Archbishop Dexter Burke of the Walk in the Light Church of God. A shooting in February left two men dead near his church and he had enough.

‘I feel that we are really putting a dent on crime,’ Burke said. ‘I think that we've exceeded 100% in terms of success.’

Burke says having community members invested in the neighborhood patrol combats the anti-snitch culture in Black neighborhoods. As for concerns that this is nothing more than armed vigilantes, Burke points to the use of cameras.

The body worn cameras and drones, he says, are meant to provide evidence of crimes to be turned over to police, but the cameras also provide protection to the volunteer members of the group.”

Despite the modern tech, this is how many societies handled protection centuries ago.

Many contemporary Americans might not be aware of historical precedents of local policing and even non-governmental adjudication of disputes and crimes, but this example from Hartford harkens back to the 1,000-year-long, polycentric, voluntary, Brehon Law system of the Irish clans (roughly from the 7th Century to 1700, AD), and the Goddard justice system of the medieval Vikings in Iceland.

Local people, societal, voluntary associations – they reflect and utilize honest dealing and individual valuation.

Something that appears to be greatly needed in Hartford, Connecticut – and, possibly, many other places in America.