On the Saturday night a meeting of one of the recently formed Vigilance Committees was held at the "Crown" Tavern, Mile End-road. The chair was taken by Mr. Aarons, who was supported by many of the leading inhabitants of the district. In opening the proceedings, the Chairman said the Committee had been formed for the purpose of considering what steps should taken for the detection or prevention of crime in the district, and for strengthening the hands of the police, by individual action on the part of the citizens. A comprehensive circular had been printed and sent round, calling attention to the recent outrages which had alarmed the whole of London, and he had little doubt that, in the course of a few days, the Committee would be in a position to offer a substantial reward for the apprehension and conviction of the murderer or murderers. He wished it to be distinctly understood that the Committee was in no way antagonistic to the police authorities, who were doing their best, as he believed they always did, to bring the culprits to justice. He had received many subscriptions to the fund started, and he was glad to say that a letter had just reached from Mr. Spencer Charrington, of the Brewery close by, which was as follows:--
"Anchor Brewery, Mile End, London, Sept. 15, 1888. Sir, - In reply to your letter, asking for a contribution to the reward fund for discovering the perpetrator of the late dreadful murders, I enclose you a cheque for five pounds, and remain, yours truly, SPENCER CHARRINGTON."
He had also received a similar sum from Mr. George Lusk, the builder, and he himself had subscribed a like amount, and several guineas, half-guineas, and other sums had been cheerfully paid. (Cheers). There was one important matter in connection with his canvass, which he thought, the Press should know, and that was that every one he saw, whether a donor or not, expressed a decided opinion that the Government were entirely wrong in declining to offer any reward for information leading to the conviction of an escaped murderer.
Mr. Rogers, one of the Committee, said he could quite endorse the latter remark, for, without exception, he had found every one upon whom he had called thoroughly at variance with the Home Office on the matter; and, in many instances, where he had expected to obtain £5 or £10 without demur, he found that his friends, though willing at all times to give generously to any charitable object, declined to subscribe to the present fund, on the ground that it was the imperative duty of the Home Secretary to issue notification of a reward.
After other speeches, the Chairman pointed out that the reward would be given to any person, policeman or others, who should get hold of the desired clue, and he felt sure that the successful man would be well rewarded in other quarters. In the event of the money subscribed not being utilised for the purpose in view, it had been arranged to hand it over to the funds of the London Hospital or some other charity.
At a subsequent meeting, a letter was read from the Secretary of State declining to offer a reward on behalf of the Government, and considerable irritation was expressed in consequence.
The Daily Telegraph has resumed its animadversions on the Home Secretary, Sir Chas. Warren, and the police force generally, saying: "We have had enough of Mr. Home Secretary Matthews, who knows nothing, has heard nothing, and does not intend to do anything in matters concerning which he ought to be fully informed, and prepared to act with energy and despatch. It is high time that this helpless Minister should be promoted out of the way of some more competent man." . . . It is clear that the Detective Department at Scotland-yard is in an utterly hopeless and worthless condition; that were there a capable Director of criminal investigations, the scandalous exhibition of stupidity and ineptitude revealed at the East End inquests, and the immunity enjoyed by criminals, murder after murder, would not have angered and disgusted the public feeling as it has undoubtedly done."
LETTER FROM THE HOME SECRETARY
REFUSING TO OFFER A REWARD
This morning a meeting of the Vigilance Committee, of which Mr. Lusk is president, met again at 74 Mile end road, for the purpose of receiving the reports of their honorary officers in the matter. From the statements of Mr. Aarons, Mr. B. Harris, Mr. Cohen, and the president himself, there appeared to be a general belief that a substantial Government reward would bring about the apprehension of the murderer. The secretary said that on the 15th inst. the Committee sent a letter to the Home Secretary on the subject, which was to induce him to offer a reward, or to augment their fund. The following reply had been received:-
Whitehall, 17th Sept., 1888
Sir - I am directed by the Secretary of State to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 16th inst., with reference to the question of the offer of a reward for the discovery for the perpetrators of the recent murders in Whitechapel; and I am to inform you that, had the Secretary of State considered a proper one for the offer of a reward, he would at once have offered one on behalf of the Government; but that the practice of offering rewards for the discovery of criminals was discontinued some year ago, because experience showed that such offers of reward tended to produce more harm than good, and the Secretary of State is satisfied that there is nothing in the circumstances of the present case to justify a departure from this rule.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
G. Leigh Pemberton
It has been stated that the excitement is dying out in the district, but this is not by any means a fact, for it is hourly increasing although the indignation is of a quieter and more concentrated kind. This is evidenced by the great number of Vigilance Committees which are being daily inaugurated, and one of the largest holds its meetings nightly and receives dozens of members at every sitting. Money is no object whatever, and is cheerfully subscribed for the purpose of hunting down the murderer.
The following is a copy of one of the many notices issued by the Jewish section of inhabitants, the Jews in particular being thoroughly determined in the matter, owing to the dread engendered in the breasts of their wives of the criminal exercising his horrible proclivities upon them:
"Finding that in spite of murders being committed in our midst, our police force is still inadequate to discover the author or authors of the late atrocities, we, the undersigned have formed ourselves into a committee, and intend offering a substantial reward to any one, citizen or otherwise, who shall give such information as will bring the murderer or murderers to justice."
Another account of the meeting mentioned in post #11, explaining why Lusk was replaced by Aarons as chairman that night;
IPN 22nd sept
On Saturday night a meeting of the Vigilance Committee took place at the Crown Tavern, 74, Mile End-road, for the purpose of considering what steps should be taken to aid the police in the search for the murderer. In the absence of Mr. Lusk, the chairman, Mr. Aarons, the proprietor of the tavern, was voted to the chair, and in opening the proceedings, said that he had great pleasure in announcing that Mr. Spencer Charrington, of the brewery adjacent, had, with his usual liberality, responded to the appeal made to him on behalf of his fellow creatures. He had sent a cheque for £5, and he would not have done that unless he had been convinced the amount was for a much-needed object. In announcing other subscriptions, including £5 from Mr. Lusk, and a similar amount from himself, the speaker said he had been forcible reminded, during his efforts to obtain subscriptions towards a reward for the apprehension of the murderer, of the great dissatisfaction which existed owing to the withdrawal of Government rewards for the discovery of murder; for, with one exception, every donor had expressed an opinion that it was the duty of the Government to offer a substantial reward in such cases, and many persons who were ready to lay down £100 towards any charitable object were flatly refused to subscribe to this fund on the ground that it was the imperative duty of the Scotland-yard authorities and of the Home Office to offer a pecuniary inducement to persons (not the actual murderer) to come forward and give information. He regretted to say that the police authorities had decided to offer no reward, but at the same time it was only fair to reflect that the police probably knew more about the matter than they chose to make public, and that, therefore, they considered a reward unnecessary. Time, of course, might show how the matter stood, and he trusted that the police were right in what they were doing. Mr. Rogers and other gentlemen having addressed the meeting, the proceedings were adjourned.