The Associated Press story “Ga. death recalls U.S. history of race terror” on the front page of the Region section of the May 10, 2020 Press of Atlantic City is a perfect example of how they are.
Frame of video showing struggle between Travis McMichael (left) and Ahmaud Arbery (right) in Satilla Shores, a development near Brunswick, Georgia by I-95. McMichael had been standing there to the left of his truck which was parked on the right side of the road. Arbery ran around the right side of that truck, cut sharply to the left in front of the truck, and kept running across the road to make contact with McMichael. Why? Was he so afraid they would kill him that he thought that was his safest option? Did everybody involved in this tragedy act so quickly that nobody was thinking?
The Associated Press story began with a biased account of the confrontation between Travis McMichael, a 34 year old white man and Ahmaud Arbery, a 25 year old black man last February 23. Much of it was captured on the below video. Like most videos of this incident posted on YouTube, it has a biased caption which presumes that Travis McMichael is guilty of murder.
The video, taken by a resident of the development, shows Arbery running on the left side of a residential street until his path is blocked by McMichael who is standing in front of him holding a shotgun. McMichael’s pick-up truck is blocking the right side of the street. McMichael’s father, 64 year old Gregory McMichael is standing in the bed of the truck with a handgun. Arbery avoids both men by running to the right, around the truck. But then, Arbery suddenly cuts sharply to the left, crosses the road right in front of the truck, and runs towards McMichael. Arbery does this as quickly as a linebacker rushing a quarterback. Arbery did this well playing football for Brunswick High School with his cousin, Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker. Walker told ESPN that Arbery was “slow as molasses, but he would hit you”.
Did either of the McMichaels do or say something to provoke Arbery? We can’t tell from the video. Both Travis McMichael and Arbery are in front of the truck and hidden from the camera. So far, there is no evidence that they did. Did their physical appearance alone make Arbery believe they planned to kill him? We will never know. We then hear a shot. Arbery pushes McMichael to the left side of the road, grabbing the shotgun with one hand and punching McMichael in the head with the other. McMichael is not punching back. He is holding his shotgun with both hands. We then hear a second shot when both men are off-camera to the left. Arbery pushes McMichael back on the road still holding McMichael’s gun with his left hand and still punching McMichael in the head with the right. McMichael fires a third shot and Arbery falls.
Both Travis and Gregory McMichaels told police that they and their neighbors had been on edge because someone had stolen a handgun from their truck outside their home seven weeks before. That was after weeks of other unsolved burglaries in the area. Both McMichaels said they thought Arbery was a burglar fleeing the scene because they saw him running by their house right after they heard that someone with his description had just been seen entering a nearby vacant home. That was later confirmed by the below surveillance video.
Even if telling the truth, both Gregory and Travis McMichael used poor judgment. If they thought Arbery was an armed burglar running away, they should have followed him from a safe distance until police arrived. They had no badges or uniforms. They should have known that “citizen’s arrests” are always very risky. That is because under Georgia law, a person who believes he or she is wrongly arrested by a citizen has the legal right to resist by force.
Tragedies happen when people are afraid, don’t trust each other, and have no faith that law enforcement will protect them. They also happen when people are in a hurry and act before they think. Gregory and Travis McMichael acted quickly. They decided to attempt a risky citizen’s arrest of Arbery just seconds after watching him run down the street in front of their house.
However, the Associated Press, like most national TV and radio news networks, was not satisfied with that truthful narrative.
The Associated Press story of May 10 said the video showed “white men armed with guns confronting the black man, a struggle with punches thrown, three shots fired, and Arbery collapsing dead”. It did not say that Arbery ran out of his way to attack one man, or that Arbery was the only one who threw punches. The Associated Press then falsely compared McMichael’s quick firing of three shots while being punched in the head and struggling to hold on to his weapon to “extrajudicial killings of black people” and “racial terror” by whites a hundred years ago.
The Associated Press quoted people speaking for Arbery’s family and the Georgia NAACP. They called this a “modern day lynching” caused by “vile and wicked racism”. There were no quotes from anyone speaking for neighbors to tell of their frustration and fear after months of unsolved burglaries–some involving the theft of guns. Finally, the Associated Press told the story of the cold blooded 1955 murder of Emmet Till, a black 14 year old in Mississippi. That horrible crime 65 years ago had absolutely nothing to do with the facts of this case. The Associated Press injected that story, together with the photo of the murdered child, for no purpose other than to stir up emotion and hatred against all white men in the South. That is exactly what white Democrat newspapers did to whip up fear and hatred of black men in the Old South after the Civil War. It is also exactly what the racist propaganda movie, “Birth of a Nation” did to revive the KKK in 1915.
The Associated Press also left out key historical facts. The article did not mention that white Republicans as well as blacks were terrorized and lynched in the South after the Civil War. This was done by white Democrats determined to regain political control there.
The Associated Press also failed to remind readers how the long dead KKK and lynchings were revived and brought to many cities outside the Confederate South by white Democrats in 1915. That was when Hollywood’s D. W. Griffith produced and distributed America’s first full length movie “Birth of a Nation”. That racist propaganda movie helped Democrats re-elect their “progressive” President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 and keep control of their big city political machines. At that time, many blacks were moving out of the South as part of the “Great Migration” and voting straight Republican.
Subtitle from 1915 silent movie “Birth of a Nation”. Its screenplay was based on the novel “The Clansman”, which justified and glorified the KKK. That novel was written by a close friend of then Princeton Professor and later “progressive” Democrat President Woodrow Wilson. That novel was based on Wilson’s book “History of the American People” which included a bigoted re-writing of the history of the American Civil War from a white Confederate Democrat, anti-black and racist point of view.
However, the worst part of the Associated Press and other national media were their failure to mention how Ahmaud Arbery ran back to attack Travis McMichael after he had already run past him. They never asked why Arbery did not stop to explain what he was doing, wait for police, or simply walk or keep running away. Was it because Arbery had been taught since childhood that whites had such hatred of blacks that he would be killed if he didn’t run away? Or was it an impulsive and reckless act of hate, rage, pride or ego? Until that point, the confrontation could turned to a conversation ending with mutual apologies for a misunderstanding, smiles, and handshakes.
Once the confrontation became a physical fight over a loaded shotgun, it almost certainly had to end with the death of somebody. That is when it became like the life and death struggle between 17 year old Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida in 2012. Or between Michael Brown and police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.
However, young black men too often get in these deadly confrontations when whites or police are not around. Didn’t that same kind of impulsive, reckless, and selfish behavior cause the senseless shooting deaths of a football coach in Millville, and a nine year old girl in Bridgeton, New Jersey in 2018. Didn’t it caused the shooting death of a ten year old boy at a high school football game in Pleasantville, New Jersey.
Doesn’t that behavior explain why 6,237 murder victims in 2018 were black? Blacks were 58% of all murder victims, 3.9% times the national average. Isn’t this why roughly 88% of those who murdered those blacks were also blacks? Why do shooting deaths of young black men become national news only for the very few cases where the shooter is white or a police officer? Why do far more numerous shooting deaths of young black men by other young black men remain simply local stories? What makes them less important?
By not giving national attention to the far more common shooting deaths of young black men by other young black men, the national media give too many Americans the false idea that whites and police are the most serious threats to young black men and the black community. Because of this, too few Americans understand the true problems so we can fix them.
Unfortunately, that is not likely to change soon. Most “mainstream” national media are now so biased that events are seen as newsworthy only when they help “progressive” Democrats or hurt President Trump or Republicans. These “journalists” know that if fewer blacks falsely blamed whites for problems in their communities, Democrats would no longer get 95% of the black vote.
Seth Grossman, Executive Director
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Somers Point, NJ 08244