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Major Newspaper Refuses to Print Police Description of Fugitive Mass Shooting Suspect Because it Could 'Perpetuate Stereotypes'

Western Journal

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When is the police description of a mass shooting suspect not pertinent to a newspaper’s story? When it could “perpetuate stereotypes,” apparently.

Early Saturday, 14 people were shot in the Sixth Street entertainment district in Austin, Texas. According to CNN, police received 911 calls starting shortly before 1:30 a.m.

Officers were on the block and reached the scene almost immediately.

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“They were there within seconds,” Chacon said. “And quickly identified several shooting victims that were in distress. They began immediate life-saving measures.”

That meant, thankfully, none of the 14 who were hit have died as of Sunday morning, when police had one of two suspects in custody. The shooting was apparently between two parties and not part of a random attack.

In its writeup of the shooting, the Austin American-Statesman said the incident “intensified questions about public safety and gun violence in one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities.”

“The shooting marked the most significant mass casualty incident emergency officials have responded to citywide since 2014 — an incident that also happened in the same area when a man plowed his car into a crowded, barricaded street during SXSW,” the American-Statesman reported, referring to the South by Southwest film and music festival. “Four people died and 30 were injured.

“Although no one died as the result of Saturday’s shooting, the incident also marked the first time that many people were shot since the infamous mass shooting from the University of Texas Tower in 1966 that left 15 dead.”

If the American-Statesman is putting the incident in the same league as the 1966 killings at the University of Texas, then, one assumes the outlet is taking the mass shooting quite seriously. Why, then, would it not report on the Austin Police Department’s description of one of the suspects?

“Police have only released a vague description of the suspected shooter as of Saturday morning,” an editor’s note at the end of the story read. “The Austin American-Statesman is not including the description as it is too vague at this time to be useful in identifying the shooter and such publication could be harmful in perpetuating stereotypes. If more detailed information is released, we will update our reporting.”

In a Saturday-morning Twitter post, the paper echoed the statement, adding that it could “put innocent individuals at risk.”

Whether or not you thought the Austin Police Department’s description of the suspect too was vague, it contained pertinent information: “There is one suspect described as a black male, with dread locks, wearing a black shirt and a skinny build,” the department said in a media release.

When, then, does a publication decide information about what sort of description of a suspect in a mass shooting event is too vague? In this case, you could be forgiven if you thought the operative part of the American-Statesman’s statement was that it “could perpetuate stereotypes,” given that the suspect was black. Some on social media certainly thought it smacked of wokeness:

Furthermore, if this is Austin American-Statesman policy, one could argue it was reached recently. As a Twitter user pointed out, after serial bombings in 2018, the newspaper was willing to print a vague description about mail bombers that leaned entirely on stereotypes in a case with no suspects:

“Still, researchers have identified some broad characteristics that police turn to in trying to identify deadly bombers,” the story read. “All have been white men. While they have varied educational attainment, they were of above-average intelligence and mechanically inclined.

“Almost always, they were furious.”

For the record, the bomber did turn out to be a white man, Mark Conditt. In the wake of his death after killing himself with his own bomb, the American-Statesman published a story in which the newspaper tried to decode Conditt’s motives — which could have included coming from a “staunchly religious” upbringing but “questioning his sexuality.” Not that journalists would want to “perpetuate stereotypes” about repressed Christians by this kind of speculation.

Wherever the American-Statesman editorially draws the line on when a description is too vague to be passed on — or whether or not the cultural stereotypes it might perpetuate play any part, explicitly or implicitly, in the decision — it raises serious questions about the ethical implications of the policy.

When a mass shooter is on the loose, what certainty do you have that not reporting the information wouldn’t “put innocent individuals at risk?” What if the information were of use? Does it engender trust with readers and the public if you’re explicitly telling them information is being kept from them because they can’t be trusted not to “perpetuate stereotypes,” particularly when the subject is a minority?

Even if the newspaper decided not to report the description because of its editorial policies — a mistake, especially given the gravity of the situation — the conspicuous act of letting everyone know why the information was being withheld was profoundly counterproductive. In an act of virtue-signaling, the Statesman told its readers all it needed to know about the kind of objectivity they can expect from their capital city’s newspaper.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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Sheriff's Helicopter Swoops In on People Trapped by Floodwaters, Camera Catches Daring Rescue in First-Person View

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As floodwaters deluged parts of Arizona, a daring helicopter rescue Friday plucked two people from a mobile home that was caught in fast-moving water. Monsoons struck Arizona last week, triggering severe flooding. Drivers who tried to make their way across flooded roads, despite advice to avoid driving, often became stranded. Floodwaters rushed through streets in Flagstaff, Arizona after storms brought heavy rainfall. Weather warnings have been issued to locals residents to warn of more flooding and heavy downpour. pic.twitter.com/X8lHGS8yEK — Newsweek (@Newsweek) July 19, 2021 On Friday, Daisy Mountain Fire and Rescue received a report of a mobile home that was caught in the flooding in New River. The water was too high for any ground units to reach those trapped inside. Authorities reported that water was pouring through the windows of the mobile home, and officials were afraid it would tip over, according to KNXV-TV. That left one option — an air rescue. A Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office helicopter flew to the partially submerged vehicle. In a video released by the sheriff’s office, which dramatically shows the extent of the waters rampaging through New River’s streets, the helicopter closes in on a vehicle with two people sitting on it, only a few feet from the rapidly rising water. We are here to provide #safety to our community but please be mindful of the dangers posed by moving water and entering flooded areas. Here’s a video of our MCSO aviation unit rescuing a driver after his vehicle got stuck in a wash. pic.twitter.com/tO3TL12tPw — Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (@mcsoaz) July 24, 2021 “We are here to provide #safety to our community but please be mindful of the dangers posed by moving water and entering flooded areas. Here’s a video of our MCSO aviation unit rescuing a driver after his vehicle…

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Off-Duty Firefighter Jumped by Mob Who Tell Him It's 'Fight Night' Before Brutal Beating

Western Journal

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Asking for a little old-fashioned respect can be the prelude to a beatdown in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s New York City. The New York Post has released video of a Friday night incident in which a rabid mob of teenagers surrounded and then attacked an off-duty firefighter as he walked his dog near his home in the borough of Queens. Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa, who founded the civic protection group the Guardian Angels in 1979, posted the video to Twitter. Warning: The following video contains graphic images and language that some readers will find disturbing. Last night in Middle Village a mob of kids attacked a man who asked them to stop blasting fireworks. #NYPD from the 104th precinct were there but did nothing. The community reached out to #NYC Mayoral candidate #CurtisSliwa & the #GuardianAngels to find these vicious teens pic.twitter.com/uVJkBUJ0L1 — Curtis Sliwa for NYC Mayor (@CurtisSliwa) July 24, 2021 The 44-year-old victim, whose name was not released by the Post, said he is among those who have objected to the deterioration of his community,  and taken the dangerous stand of telling teenagers to behave as if rules really mattered. Retribution for preaching civility arrived Friday night. “There were at least 100 kids … I was walking my dog. They just picked me out and approached me,” the firefighter told the Post in a Saturday interview. “One kid took his shirt off and said, ‘it’s fight night!’ He said he was 19 and said, ‘I could fight you.’ Everyone took their cell phones out. There were cell phones everywhere,” the victim said. “They all came at me…A kid came up behind me and hit me in the back of the head with a bottle and I let go of the dog,” he said. With the dog barking…

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