Newly released documents from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin police department reveal that authorities have investigated reports of the existence and activities of a "gang" of rogue police officers known as the Punishers that may have been operating in the city since at least 2005. They are alleged to wear black gloves, caps and tattoos brandishing skull emblems, inspired by the Marvel Comics vigilante. Some of the policemen in question were involved in the beating of Frank Jude, Jr. in 2004 and were convicted of civil rights violations and fired. However, documents released as part of Jude's civil action against the city and his attackers reveal that the Punishers may have remained active through 2008 despite having been stripped of their police authority.
Jude was accused, apparently falsely, in 2004 of stealing a wallet and police badge at a party for off-duty police. The alleged Punisher cops -- who decorated their vehicles, lockers and bodies with the familiar skull emblem -- beat him savagely, kicking him in the head and groin, cutting off his clothes, jamming pens in his ears and threatening him with a knife and a gun. The biracial Jude said the Punishers used racial slurs during the beating, and he is seeking $30 million in damages.
In a less dark instance comes masked vigilantes in Seattle, my hometown: