Angry Mob Pelts Man: What Happened In Pueblo, Colo.?
An angry mob chased down and pelted a man with rocks in Pueblo, Co., after believing him to be a sex offender.
AP reports that when residents of the Colorado neighborhood became aware that sexual assaults on children had occurred in the area, they took the law into their own hands. After they spotted a 54-year-old man that matched the police description of the attacker, they chased him down, and beat him with fists and rocks. The man was left with a bloody face and was taken away in a police car shortly after the angry mob attacked him.
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But, unfortunately, the mob of about half-dozen people had the wrong guy.
Alex Pacheco, one of the attackers, told AP that the angry mob began scouring the neighborhood looking for the man who committed the sex crimes.
''We went through the right channels in contacting the police but there hasn't been much response,'' Pacheco told AP. ''We can't wait around any longer without doing something. These are children that this man is after and we can't let any more children get hurt by him.''
The perpetrator wore a bandanna over his face, so police had an incomplete description of him. Still, the police notified residents through social media and alerted the media about the attacks.
The man, pursued by the angry mob and pelted with rocks, did not want to file charges. He said he understood their anger over learning that a sex offender lived in their midst, and that he didn't want to take legal action against them. The man, whose name has not been released because charges were not filed against him, even gave authorities a DNA sample in order to vindicate him.
"He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," police Capt. Tom Rummel said.
The herd mentality, or mob mentality, describes how people will conduct themselves in a certain way based on the way their peers behave; it refers to how a minority of individuals can influence and direct the actions of a larger group.
"When people are part of a group, they often experience de-individuation, or a loss of self-awareness," Tamara Avant, the psychology program director at South University in Florida, told South Source. "Groups can generate a sense of emotional excitement, which can lead to the provocation of behaviors that a person would not typically engage in if alone."
Avant cites sports events or concerts as examples of this phenomenon. Certain behaviors become acceptable in the group that may not be acceptable in an individual or small group setting.
"Group violence is most likely to occur when the group is large, people are able to remain anonymous, and people experience a diffusion of responsibility. Certain situations also play a role, such as when resources are scarce, we are surrounded by like-minded people, and/or when emotions are aroused."
It's also a phenomenon known as a social contagion. Time reported that even health habits, both positive and negative ones, spread through networks of friends because we tend to imitate the actions we witness on a day to day basis.
According to one study from the University of Leeds, it only takes a five percent minority to influence the other 95 percent of a crowd.
"We've all been in situations where we get swept along by the crowd," Professor Jens Krause of the University's Faculty of Biological Sciences told PsychCentral.
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