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Sympathy for violent criminals?

So, a pair of men attempted to rob the Dutch Brothers coffee stand across the street from my office last Friday. One of them had a gun. Turns out, one of the stand employees did too, and he shot and killed the robber. Apparently several shots were fired, but I don’t know who shot first. The other robber ran off and is still at large. More info can be found here. Assuming the facts are as stated, this seems like a pretty clear case of legitimate self-defence, and honestly, I applaud the DB employee for protecting himself and his co-workers.

This morning I came to work and found a sign and a few bundles of flowers memorializing the would-be robber. My initial gut response was outrage. This person was willing to at least threaten deadly force against people who are just trying to do an honest days work to get his hands on at most a couple thousand dollars. Does someone deserve a memorial, no matter how small, when they are killed in the commission of such a crime?

I’m still undecided. Even though this person may have been “bad”, I don’t know them. I don’t know if he just intended to scare someone. Maybe no one would have gotten hurt if the employee had just rolled over? But does that justify not standing up for oneself? Isn’t that how cruel and lawless people gain control? I think so. Deep down I feel like this person brought this fate down upon himself and got what he deserves. But he still surely had friends and family who loved him and will miss him. I’m conflicted. On one hand, the memorial seems tactless, tasteless, and totally inappropriate. On the other, the people he left behind still have a right to grieve…

What do you think?

Posted in Life.