When citizens lose confidence in the police and courts Vigilantes have long been vilified, often deservedly. But what about those who take the law into their own hands only after the criminal justice system has failed? The Deacons of Defense guarded blacks and civil rights workers in the 1960s South. The Lavender Panthers countered gaybashers in 1970s San Francisco. Throughout history, these and many other vigilantes have tried to protect their communities when the police or courts would not. Sadly, argue Paul and Sarah Robinson, while some vigilantism may be morally justified, even the best of intentions can spiral out of control, further eroding public confidence. They suggest that even more destructive than street vigilantes are "shadow vigilantes": ordinary citizens who quietly subvert and pervert the criminal justice system by refusing to report a crime, help investigators, or convict offenders. If vigilante action is a cry for justice, it triggers a series of echoes that lead to more systemic failures.