Popular Wired magazine says Ring cameras turn owners into vigilantes
Vigilantism occurs when mobs bypass the legal system to murder someone accused, but not convicted, of a crime. However, according to Wired, the venerable technology magazine, when homeowners work with law enforcement to turn over Ring footage of criminals on their (or their neighbors’) property, they are engaging in vigilantism…and are probably racists, too. Aside from being a witless perversion of language, it reveals the anti-black racism at work in leftist circles.
According to Dictionary.com, a core element of being a vigilante is to act outside of the law:
1. a member of a vigilance committee.
2. any person who takes the law into their own hands, such as by avenging a crime.
3. done violently and summarily, without recourse to lawful procedures: vigilante justice.
In America, we associate vigilantism with two historical times: The Wild West, when people would break a horse thief or train robber out of jail and “hang him high” before trial, or the Jim Crow South, when racist mobs would drag blacks or Jews out of jail before trial (or when the mob wanted, but didn’t get, a death sentence) and lynch them.
In the modern world, we associate vigilantism with the complete breakdown of an effective legal system. For example, in South Africa, as the system breaks down, there’s been a return of “necklacing,” which sees a mob summarily dispense justice by placing a tire soaked in gasoline around a person’s neck and setting the tire on fire. Likewise, in Mexico, another country with a broken system, vigilantism is on the rise as people frustrated by the legal system’s ineffectiveness summarily execute those they believe guilty of a crime. It would not surprise me to see this happen in American cities that have abandoned a functioning justice system, such as Chicago or Los Angeles.
Image: Ring footage of crime in process. YouTube screen grab.
What’s very clear, though, is that vigilantism does not define taking evidence of criminal activity to the police so that the legal process can be used to capture and try an alleged criminal. Nevertheless, Wired magazine claims that citizens working with police to keep their community crime free constitutes racially based vigilantism that should be discouraged. To that end, Wired says that people should not install Ring systems, which combine security cameras with doorbells:
When you set up a Ring camera, you are automatically enrolled in the Neighbors service. (You can go into the Ring app's settings and toggle off the Neighbors feed integration and notifications, but the onus is on you.) Neighbors, which is also a stand-alone app, shows you an activity feed from all nearby Ring camera owners, with posts about found dogs, stolen hoses, and a Safety Report that shows how many calls for service—violent or nonviolent—were made in the past week. It also provides an outlet for public safety agencies, like local police and fire departments, to broadcast information widely.
But it also allows Ring owners to send videos they've captured with their Ring video doorbell cameras and outdoor security cameras to law enforcement. This is a feature unique to Ring—even Nextdoor removed its Forward to Police feature in 2020, which allowed Nextdoor users to forward their own safety posts to local law enforcement agencies. If a crime has been committed, law enforcement should obtain a warrant to access civilian video footage.
Multiple members of WIRED's Gear team have spoken to Ring over the years about this feature. The company has been clear it's what customers want, even though there’s no evidence that more video surveillance footage keeps communities safer. Instead, Neighbors increases the possibility of racial profiling. It makes it easier for both private citizens and law enforcement agencies to target certain groups for suspicion of crime based on skin color, ethnicity, religion, or country of origin.
If Wired were saying that police were seizing Ring footage without a warrant or that Ring itself was automatically sending the footage on a continuous basis to the police, that would be a valid constitutional concern. However, this situation presents no constitutional issue. The Fourth Amendment applies only to state actors, not to private citizens.
Ironically, by saying that it’s racist to capture criminal activity on home cameras and send the video to police, Wired is giving the game away: Wired’s staff understands that a subset of blacks commits a disproportionate amount of crime in America but wants to maintain that status quo by hiding it. The only thing that will change it is when blacks stop allowing leftists to enable this tragic dysfunction in their community and start addressing a problem that plagues them even more than it does those allegedly racist Ring owners.
By the way, here’s my favorite Ring doorbell footage: