As many of us are aware (I hope), a major tragedy took place in Queens two weeks ago when NYPD officers gunned down 23 year old Sean Bell, an unarmed groom-to-be several hours before starting a new chapter in a life to be shared with the mother of his two children.
The merciless and unrelenting loading, discharging and reloading of over 50 shots in a one sided exchange left a future wife a grieving widow before her time, their children fatherless, and a community incensed.
And what's followed since is the bunker mentality relationship of police and the local media co-joined by the hip, the latter protecting and serving those expected to protect and serve the now angry and stunned, but providing their usual dish of disservice to an African American community accustomed to their poison.
With professionalism cast aside, formal training forgotten, and their integrity an afterthought, police and their guardian scribes play a game of Simon Says at the expense of our lives and our collective character.
Myself as an up and coming journalist, I am taught to be at the behest of my readers to whom I'm expected to serve fair and objective news. However, the tragic killing of Mr. Bell has exposed where many in my field fall short. I can look no further than the NY Daily News and its recent coverage over this tragedy.
In Wednesdays NY Daily News, columnist Patrice O'Shaughnessy wrote an article about Vincent Perrega, an unfortunate crime victim murdered by a remorsless two bit criminal, following a trend by the paper of using the emotions and pain of others to diminish and question the outrage over the Bell shooting.
This followed a Michael Daly article who a day prior wrote a similar piece regarding a widowed police officer whose husband was killed in the line of duty last year.
So I emailed this "journalist" and got an email back from her less than ten minutes later. Here's what transpired:
Reb: "Is there any legitimate reason you're using the pain and anguish of the victim of the crime in your latest piece to buffer the anger over the killing of Sean Bell? "
O'Shaughnessy: people should be angry over both-- the police shooting an unarmed person and the lack of protection of citizens, who are getting shot by criminals in increasing numbers.
perraga's family does not want him or his case to be forgotten
Reb: Sorry to tell you, but the job of those asked to protect and serve our communities tend to blur the lines of who are the criminals and who aren't, and unfortunately both Mr. Bell and Mr. Perraga are victims of that.
But I feel that you're misusing the emotions of the Perraga family to diminish the anguish behind the Bell shooting. I'm not sure if you've attended the stop the violence rallies in some of these communities since they draw little attention in the Daily News and are pretty much not newsworthy. Now that the community has made its say about the Bell killing, the attention of the news is suddenly aroused, and you view the community's anger as displaced. Where were you and your coverage at the stop the violence rallies that take place all over the city? Why whack the hands of those you feel whose anger are displaced?
You're just as much the problem as you think you are the solution in pointing out the lack of even handed anger in your article.
O'Shaughnessy:yes, i guess the media is the root of all problems. thanks for writing
Reb: I guess if you believe that's my line of thinking, ride that angle to the ground for all I care. But if you're going to be fatherly in your articles and point out the community's anger not being even handed, accept the responsibilities that come with being a so called parent. You play a part too.
To be honest with you, outside of the surprise I got in hearing from her so quickly, I expected a much more intelligent response than what I was provided with. And since our email exchange, her article has been pulled from the papers website, even as far as being removed from its search engine. But I hope the next time before she places her fingers onto a pen or keyboard to write that type of trash, she'll think twice before submitting garbage to her editor.
I'll be keeping my eyes open.