An urban legend?
Over the weekend, the New York Times questioned whether recent reports of black mob violence in the form of the “Knockout Game” are really just “urban legends.” Like Big Foot.
NBC, ABC and other networks were happy to follow the leader: They produced similar stories detailing the attacks -- denying racial violence has anything to do with them.
As much as The Times wishes the Knockout Games were just another urban legend, here’s the difference: Big Foot is alive. And on videos, thousands of them, showing black mob violence that local press often dismisses as “random” attacks from “unruly teenagers.”
In St. Louis, where the Knockout Game first gained popularity, a judge two years ago said one man alone was responsible for 300 cases of the Knockout Game.
But The Times ignored that.
The newspaper editor says stories about black mob violence without statistics are anecdotal. Cherry picking. But people who present statistics are accused of stereotyping. Profiling.
Either way, following The Times formula, reporters produce stories like over the weekend in Philadelphia, where the local NBC affiliate reported on the latest example of the Knockout Game without citing its central organizing feature: The race of the attacker. And the race of the victim.
The male victim was riding his bike along the 900 block of Catherine Street in the Bella Vista section of the city just before 8 p.m. on Friday when he was randomly punched by a group of teens, police said.
After being hit, police say the cyclist asked the group -- made up of five teen boys and three teen girls -- why they hit him. Without answering, the group then continued beating the man.
First things first: The attack was not random. The attackers were black. The victim was white. Fitting a pattern of dozens of cases of black mob violence in Philadelphia over the last two years. Many documented in White Girl Bleed a Lot: The Return of Racial Violence and How the Media Ignore it.
In one of the Philadelphia attacks, the victim asked the same question. But got a different answer:
“Why are you doing this?” the victim asked his attackers.
“Its not our fault you can’t fight,” they said, laughing. As they continued to beat him.
Trevor Godfrey knows the Knockout Game is real. He lived it, too. Last year in Springfield, Missouri, the president of a black fraternity was having a party when Trevor, who lived next door, went to open his car door.
Twenty black people from the party stood 20 feet away.
“Do you play football?” one asked him.
Trevor does not remember answering. He does not remember the punches breaking bones in his face. Or the teeth getting knocked out. Or the seizures he was having when his roommates found him soon after.
“The same people attacked one of the roommates earlier,” said Sherry Godfrey, Trevor’s mom, who recently appeared on the Sean Hannity to talk about her Knockout Game experience. “And another college student a few weeks later. But they were never arrested. Nor did the story make local papers until one year later.”
Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis knows the Knockout Game is real. Slay and his bodyguard had just left a Pink Floyd tribute show and were riding by a city library in October 2011 when they saw a man in the gutter, unconscious.
That man was 51-year old Matt Quain, who had been on his way home from a local grocery story, ready to celebrate a Cardinals’ victory in the World Series. The Post-Dispatch reports some of the details:
"Eighteen teenagers jumped on him and started hitting him with bricks for no apparent reason," said Charlie Quain, the victim’s nephew. Quain's uncle was walking home with a neighbor when he was attacked in front of a public library. Nothing was taken from him, and he was able to escape before things escalated.
The game has caused deaths in the past.
"You can just see the lines and the bruising where the edge of the bricks were hitting him," Quain said. "His jaw is wired shut. It has to be for at least six weeks."
Quain was left in a neck brace, with a broken jaw, black eye and stitches in his face.
The Mayor saw the attackers "saunter” away. Soon, seven black people were in custody.
A few days after assault, Quain’s family pleaded for an end to the “sickening attacks.”
Police held a meeting at the school were most of the suspects attended. Please stop the Knockout Game, they begged.
Two weeks later, a 54-year-old man was another victim. Two of the people arrested were at the meeting.
The Quain trial was supposed to begin in January. Instead, the district attorney dropped charges because a 13-year-old witness did not show up for the trial.
Mayor Slay said it was a case of witness tampering. “My strong guess is that she was intimidated, threatened not to testify which is why she did not show up,” Slay said to the Post Dispatch. “The case fell apart and the second-degree assault charges were dropped, followed by cheers and high-fives among the defendants.”
There was also plenty of jubilation on Facebook, which the Post-Dispatch reported. Including a dispatch from a black person known as the Knockout King because he was universally acclaimed to be the master of this athletic art form:
"FREE ALL MY TKO GUYS."
TKO, of course, is a boxing term for Technical Knock Out and is also a popular graffiti tag in that neighborhood.
Despite repeated pleas for peace from police, newspapers and the Quain family, a few days after the charges were dropped, the alleged assailants were back. And they were after Quain. Again.
KMOV TV talked to the shaken Quain: “I looked up and I was flinching because he had his fists up in the air,” Quain said. Quain then pulled out a can of pepper spray and the accused attackers fled the scene.”
Despite the otherwise excellent coverage, at no time did the Post-Dispatch ever include a description of the attackers that included their race.
Which is in keeping with standards suggested by the Society of Professional Journalists on how to report racial crime: Don’t.
The paper even disabled the comments section of news stories associated with this and other Knockout attacks because readers were demanding to know why the newspaper refused to report on the race of the predators.
The same paper that constantly reports on black caucuses, black churches, black colleges, black TV, black radio, and other black institutions -- with many stories written by members of the National Association of Black Journalists -- says race may be relevant to everything else. But not crime.
“Regarding the local newspaper shutting down the comments section on stories related to The Knockout Game, you should note it is actually now much worse than that,” said Deb, a St. Louis resident. “Because citizens were so angry at purposeful non-reporting and under-reporting of many stories here in St. Louis, they would take to the Comments Section of high profile crime stories in the online edition of our local paper to discuss & share what they know that the local paper was not reporting.”
“The Post-Dispatch got tired of being made to look bad and incompetent when the Comments Section had more useful and factual information than the original newspaper article did.”
Not discussing the race of the assailants is the most cherished rules of the Knockout Game. The Times figured that much out.
Earlier this year, Demetrius Murphy, one of those accused in the Quain Knockout Game, was shot and killing trying to break into a St. Louis home. He was 15. His grandfather compared Demetrius to Trayvon Martin, and said, despite his criminal history he was a good boy and never wanted to hurt anyone.
Also part of The Times’ urban legend scenario is St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce. KMOV talked to Joyce about her Facebook posting on the Knockout Game.
Joyce “talked to a teenager who claimed to be part of the “Knockout Kings,” a group that likes to attack random people on the street. There have been a number of serious injuries – even a death associated with the attacks. Joyce says the teenager claims to have knocked out more than 300 people.”
That did not matter to The Times.
In Philadelphia, Temple University hired a community organizer to help them treat racial violence as a public health problem. He said he was not too worried about it, because it was just “kids, blowing off some steam.”
But the thug point of view is already well represented at The Times: Either it is not happening. Or not important.
Marvell Weaver has a different story. One with plenty of “street cred.” Weaver got famous earlier this year when he invented a new twist on the Knockout Game: Use a taser.
Weaver jammed a taser -- KL-800 Type Stun Gun capable of generating 1.8 million volts -- into the ribs of a man waiting for his daughter at a school bus stop. He pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. The man pulled a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver and shot Weaver as he tried to escape to the getaway van where two of his accomplices waited.
“Weaver ran, sat down across the street, his leg going numb, bleeding. Pleading.
“‘I’m sorry, please don’t kill me, I don’t know why I did that, I’m high you know, I just wanna go home,’” the teen told the man who had just shot him.”
From his jail cell, Weaver contributed to a on-line forum that asked “have you played the knockout game?
“I played about 6 or 7 times but the last time was my last. Decided to taze the poor fella then shortly after got shot 2 times. I’m in jail for a year but I’m a changed man now.”
ABC News took the denial to a new level over the weekend, when it reported that a Denver man was one of the “first people in that city to be a victim of the "knockout game.”
This contradicts earlier reports of similar racial violence that rocked Denver in 2011. It took a while, but the black mob violence eventually became so blatant and so public that even the ABC affiliate could not ignore it any more. Here’s a portion of that report:
A couple dozen arrest warrant affidavits unsealed Friday offer chilling insights into the 26 racially-motivated “blitz attacks,” which stretched from July 17 to Nov. 17.
One unidentified suspect told police “that the members of his gang earn status in the gang by beating up ‘white dudes,’” according to court records. He added that the gangs targeted “drunk white guys,” exiting bars and nightclubs in the entertainment district.
The suspects allegedly bragged about knocking out white victims with one punch to the head. Victims lying on the ground were “stomped” and even tossed through glass windows.
In the latest report, ABC trotted out the same experts as the other national news outlets, denying the Knockout Games have anything to do with race. They also came up with a solution: “Juvenile delinquency experts say a good punishment for these teens would be empathy training, such as volunteering at a homeless shelter."
Even The Times did not go that far: Even a Timesman knows it makes little sense to offer solutions to a problem that does not exist.
Don't miss Jamie Glazov's video interview with Colin Flaherty about "White Girl Bleed A Lot":
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