Car crashes. Gun shots. Break-ins. House fires. Criminal suspects. Stolen goods. Lost pets. There is very little in the way of suspicious activity in these parts that isn’t immediately posted and infinitely commented upon at Lane County Mugshots Uncensored (LCMU), a Facebook page whose watchdog activities run the gamut from philanthropic and altruistic to nosy and neurotic, sometimes tipping the scales into outright calls for vigilante justice.
The page is by turns fascinating, alarming and queasily addictive, thanks in large part to its brand of unhinged populism in which the community is encouraged to play cop and journalist at once (and sometimes judge, jury and executioner).
Founder and administrator Mike Weber, a Lane Community College graduate who also co-founded Lane Today, says he considers LCMU an “alternative news source” that works in real time and is largely unfiltered and collaborative.
“LCMU brings out both the best and the worst in people,” Weber says. “Oddly enough, I believe that is part of what makes LCMU work ... The members have helped solve local crimes, identify crime suspects, locate stolen vehicles and items. My hopes are that members of LCMU can keep helping our community, keep crimes in check here by networking and help local law enforcement with real-time tips.”
Aside from this utilitarian aspect, LCMU also serves, for the casual observer, as a raw portrait of the surrounding community; the page is a perfect example of what writer Andrew Sullivan recently called “hyperdemocracy,” a kind of anti-elitist and unregulated and hyperbolic clamoring (and trolling) of any and all voices, again for better or for worse.
You want to see where you really live, take a scroll through the neighborhood. You may not like what you hear at LCMU, but it’s as real as cyberspace gets.