Video of man beaten, stripped prompting anger on Internet

By Justin Fenton and Peter Hermann (The Baltimore Sun, 4/4/2012)

There can, in fact, be a corrective mechanism when it comes to the mob mentality of the Internet.

This week, a video was posted online of a seemingly lost and disoriented man being swarmed by a group of young people, then sucker punched, robbed, and stripped naked of his clothing on a downtown Baltimore street. It’s not clear where the video was first posted, but it made it to the now typical stops for such shock clips: Worldstarhiphop, LiveLeak, YouTube, Twitter.

What could have been just another tantalizing video turned into something else: outraged viewers say they have tracked down the identity of the man who threw the first punch, and police have connected a victim – who had reported an assault and theft to police but couldn’t remember where it occurred – to the incident. Police say an investigation is moving forward.

“You’d be surprised about how really stupid people are in giving out information about crimes,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blakesaid earlier this month to WMAR-TV, speaking on an unrelated incident. “If they’re going to be stupid then we have to get smart and use it to our advantage.”

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