White House Shoots Down Idea That Police Aren’t Policing and Violence Has Increased Because of Cop Criticism

FBI Director James Comey testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., Oct. 22, 2015. 
Jim Watson/Getty Images
FBI Director James Comey testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., Oct. 22, 2015. 
Jim Watson/Getty Images

FBI Director Ties Scrutiny, Rise in Violent Crime

As news organizations revealed new data on driving and even walking while black, FBI Director James B. Comey said the additional scrutiny and criticism of police might have led to an increase in violent crime in some cities as officers have become less aggressive.

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Comey's statement Friday was challenged Monday by the White House, where press secretary Josh Earnest said, "The available evidence at this point does not support the notion that law enforcement officers around the country are shying away from fulfilling their responsibilities," Wesley Lowery reported for the Washington Post.

But the increasing use of video cameras by police and citizens alike produced yet another alarming example of apparent police overreaction Monday when a video from Richland County, S.C., was posted online showing a confrontation between a school resource officer and a female student at Spring Valley High School.

The video shows Senior Deputy Ben Fields "approach the female student seated in a desk," Noah Feit reported Monday for the State in Columbia, S.C. "The resource officer proceeds to place his left hand on the female student's left arm, before putting his right arm around her neck. Fields then flips the desk over, with the student still seated, before spinning it around and forcibly removing the student and trying to restrain her at the front of the classroom."

The officer has been placed on administrative duties with pay pending an investigation, and the female student, along with a male student, was arrested for disturbing the peace.

"There is no justification whatsoever for treating a child like this," said Victoria Middleton, executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina, Feit reported.

The New York Times Sunday print edition led with a story from Greensboro, N.C., by Sharon LaFraniere and Andrew W. Lehren.

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"Here in North Carolina's third-largest city, officers pulled over African-American drivers for traffic violations at a rate far out of proportion with their share of the local driving population," LaFraniere and Lehren wrote. "They used their discretion to search black drivers or their cars more than twice as often as white motorists — even though they found drugs and weapons significantly more often when the driver was white.

"Officers were more likely to stop black drivers for no discernible reason. And they were more likely to use force if the driver was black, even when they did not encounter physical resistance. . . ."

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The story went beyond Greensboro. "In the seven states with the most sweeping reporting requirements — Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina and Rhode Island — the data show police officers are more likely to pull over black drivers than white ones, given their share of the local driving-age population," the reporters wrote.

On Monday, Fredrick Kunkle of the Washington Post reported on walking while black. "A recent study suggests motorists are less likely to stop for an African-American pedestrian in a crosswalk. A black pedestrian's wait time at the curb was about 32 percent longer than a white person's. Black pedestrians were about twice as likely as white pedestrians to be passed by multiple vehicles.

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"The small but provocative study — conducted by researchers at Portland State University and the University of Arizona — suggests that biases just outside people's conscious awareness can make them less likely to yield to minority pedestrians. And that could put those pedestrians at risk, said Kimberly B. Kahn, an assistant professor of social psychology at Portland State University.

"Put another way: Not only do black men have to worry about being hassled — and possibly shot — by cops for simply being black, they have to worry about being run over by motorists. . . ."

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Where do such stories leave the police? On Friday, "Mr. Comey said that he had been told by many police leaders that officers who would normally stop to question suspicious people are opting to stay in their patrol cars for fear of having their encounters become worldwide video sensations," Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo reported for the Times. "That hesitancy has led to missed opportunities to apprehend suspects, he said, and has decreased the police presence on the streets of the country's most violent cities. . . ."

However, on Monday, Lowery reported for the Post from Chicago, "Speaking to a ballroom of thousands of police chiefs and top law enforcement officials," Comey said "that the national debate over whether the phrase 'Black Lives Matter' is anti-cop is further deteriorating the relationship between police officers and minority communities. And he urged police to embrace the hashtag as an opportunity to better understand those they are sworn to protect.

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" 'There is a line of law enforcement and a line of communities we serve, especially of communities of color…,' Comey said. 'Each time somebody interprets hashtag Black Lives Matter as anti-law enforcement, one line moves away. And each time someone interprets hashtag "police lives matter" as anti-black the other line moves away.'

"Later in his address, delivered at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual convention, Comey said that police and the black community need to 'get up close, where it is hard to hate' in order to better understand each other. . . ."

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Dave Boyer, Washington Times: Black Lives Matter group rejects DNC’s offer of a town-hall event in 2016 race

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Obama has evolved from avoiding race to defending 'black lives matter'

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Josh Feldman, Mediaite: Christie: Obama Encourages 'Lawlessness' by Defending #BlackLivesMatter

David A. Graham, the Atlantic: The FBI Director's Troubling Comments on the 'Ferguson Effect'

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Demetria Irwin, theGrio.com: Why President Obama's defense of Black Lives Matter is so important

Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: We don't want to watch police — but we have to

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Ole Miss Removes State Flag From Campus

To the relative editorial-page silence of the state's newspapers, the University of Mississippi removed the state flag from its Oxford campus Monday because the banner contains the Confederate battle emblem.

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"Interim Chancellor Morris Stocks ordered the flag to be lowered and said it was being sent to the university's archives," the Jackson Free Press reported, incorporating reports from the Associated Press.

"The action came days after the student senate, the faculty senate and other groups adopted a student-led resolution calling for removal of the banner from campus.

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The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, the Delta Democrat Times in Greenville and the Sun Herald in Biloxi, were silent on the issue on their editorial pages, according to a check of their websites.

The Free Press explained some of the background:

"In June, [Gov. Phil] Bryant said the vast majority of Mississippians voted to keep the state flag and that a special session of the Legislature would not be called to change it. Mississippi voters decided by a 2-to-1 margin in 2001 to keep it.

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"More than 200 people joined a remove-the-flag rally Oct. 16 on the UM campus, which the university chapter of the NAACP sponsored.

"UM has struggled with Old South symbolism for decades. In 1962, deadly riots broke out when James Meredith was enrolled as the first black student, under court order. Administrators have tried to distance the school from Confederate symbols. Sports teams are still called the Rebels, but the university several years ago retired the Colonel Rebel mascot, a white-haired old man some thought resembled a plantation owner. The university also banned sticks in the football stadium nearly 20 years ago, which eliminated most Confederate battle flags that fans carried.

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" 'The University of Mississippi community came to the realization years ago that the Confederate battle flag did not represent many of our core values, such as civility and respect for others,' Stocks said in the statement Monday. 'Since that time, we have become a stronger and better university. We join other leaders in our state who are calling for a change in the state flag.'

"Since 1894, the Mississippi flag has had the Confederate battle emblem in the upper left corner — a blue X with 13 white stars, over a field of red. Residents chose to keep the flag during a 2001 statewide vote, but since then, public sentiment on the state flag is changing.

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"Several Mississippi cities and counties have stopped flying the state flag since the June massacre of nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, S.C. Police said the attack was racially motivated. The white man charged in the slayings had posed with a Confederate battle flag in photos posted online before the massacre.

"Mississippi's three historically black universities have stopped flying the flag, and the city of Jackson has not flown it for many years. . . ."

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"U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat and the only black member of Mississippi's congressional delegation, said he does not display the Mississippi flag in his office because he does not want to offend constituents. . . ."

Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.: Freeze on flag removal: 'It's the right thing'

Rachel James-Terry, Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.: Bubba Carpenter meant what he said.

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Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press: Confederate emblem a sticky election topic in Mississippi (Oct. 17)

Houston Chronicle Series Showcases Foreign-Born

"No matter how newcomers arrive on these shores —– forced from home by war or famine, lured by jobs and the dreams of a better life, crowded onto rafts, buckled into first class or smuggled across rivers, designated as immigrants or refugees — they leave a part of themselves behind," the Houston Chronicle explained in introducing "The Million: Traces of Home," a series about immigrants to the Houston area.

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"It remains nestled in the places they abandon, in the faces never seen again. So they cherish the items carried from the old world to the new: A teapot. A bundle of fading photographs. A worn shirt. A song. All are fragments of their hearts, reminders of their roots, guardians of their identities. Click on each photo to read their stories . . . "

The series began in March and is running through the end of the year.

Maria Carrillo, enterprise editor of the Chronicle, explained by email, "Earlier this year, the Chronicle's managing editor, Vernon Loeb, and Aurora Losada, the editor of La Voz, our Spanish-language sister publication, invited journalists from both staffs to discuss how to provide better coverage of Hispanics in this community.

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"One thing we wanted to do was work more closely together, and eventually, we honed in on this idea as a starting point. 'The Million' refers to the fact that there are more than a million residents in Harris County — one in four — who are foreign-born. Obviously, we reached beyond Hispanics to include other ethnicities, and we sought to illustrate how that diversity shapes this city."

Asked about reaction to the series, Carrillo replied, "What's been most heartening is the response from people who are foreign-born, who have enjoyed seeing people like themselves and stories like theirs represented in this series. It's also been nice to hear from many readers who celebrate the diversity in Houston, which is not to say that we haven't had occasional commentary from those with ugly thoughts about foreigners."

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"Enormous Reaction" to Providence Journal's "Race in R.I."

"On this fine autumn morning, Paulla Dove Jennings welcomes a visitor into her home at the edge of woods with a handshake and a smile," G. Wayne Miller reported Saturday for the Providence (R.I.) Journal.

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"She pours tea, sits at her kitchen table, and begins relating some of her life's story, which in its essential elements mirrors that of her relatives and ancestors, Rhode Island's Narragansett and Niantic peoples. . . ."

Miller also wrote, " 'Rhode Island has close to the same racism as in Mississippi, and I've lived in both places,' says Jennings, a direct descendant of the great 17th-century Niantic sachem Ninigret.

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"Growing up in Rhode Island, Jennings says, she was called 'dumb Indian' and 'redskin' and the N-word. When she was a young married woman, landlords wouldn't rent apartments to her family because she was brown-skinned. She watched her father, husband and other Native relatives and friends endure employment discrimination, a practice that continues today, she says. . . ."

The two-part series on Native Americans is part is part of the Journal's ongoing "Race in Rhode Island" series, "which has examined the disparities between whites, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and Natives," Miller told Journal-isms Monday by email. "We began in May and have published dozens of stories, and will keep doing so."

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Miller also said, "We have had an enormous reaction via reader comments and letters, emails, phone calls, and our various social media platforms.

"We put some of the early reactions in a story, but there has been much more since then."

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The Journal reported in the June 13 story, "Responses came from around Rhode Island and across the country, including Florida and Montana. Writers ranged from academics who study race relations to those who described themselves as an 'everyday Caucasian' or a person of color who grew up in East Providence.

"Some praised the paper for 'addressing this issue in a thoughtful, comprehensive way,' while others called the series 'so much cliched drivel.' . . ."

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Elizabeth Jensen, NPR: The Right To Tell One's Own History

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NABJ Officials Silent on Financial Issues

The board of directors of the National Association of Black Journalists reportedly spent considerable time over the weekend discussing in open session a budget deficit that alarmed members who took office in August. But neither President Sarah Glover, Executive Director Darryl R. Matthews Sr. nor Treasurer Greg Morrison would discuss the issue when asked about it on Monday.

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"It will be posted in the members only section of the website along with the President's message," Morrison said by email, declining to forward his treasurer's report. Glover, Matthews and Secretary Sherlon Christie did not respond to inquiries from Journal-isms.

As an NABJ member, Benét J. Wilson formerly tweeted from the board meeting, but she was elected a board member in August and is no longer filling that reporting role. With the exception of work by its student convention project, NABJ long ago abandoned the practice of having a member report on board meetings, letting the minutes suffice.

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Bob Butler, immediate past president, told NABJ members in August that the association ended 2014 with a $202,000 deficit. If the fiscal year ended the day of that business meeting, NABJ would be $227,137 in the red for 2015, he said.

After that meeting, at least 650 NABJ members accepted an invitation from Prince to pay $20 apiece to visit the Paisley Park studio complex outside Minneapolis, site of the convention. NABJ paid about $10,000 for buses to take members to Paisley Park in suburban Chanhassen, Matthews told Journal-isms then.

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Writer Says "Diversity" Term Has Become Watered Down

"Our country is convulsing over the issues of diversity and race," Ellen Berrey reported Monday for Salon.

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"Police departments from Baltimore to Minneapolis are talking about diversity hiring as the antidote to anti-black police brutality. Last month's flash point was Hollywood darling Matt Damon whitesplaining diversity, igniting a Twitterstorm of outrage. Earlier this year was the failed Race Together stunt by the CEO of Starbucks, which tried to enlist customers in over-the-counter exchanges about America's most vexing dilemma.

"As an academic, I have spent more than a decade investigating this enigmatic term: What do we mean by 'diversity' and what do we accomplish when we make it our goal? Using first-hand ethnographic observation and historical documents, my research has taken me from the U.S. Supreme Court during debates about affirmative action to a gentrifying Chicago neighborhood to the halls of a Fortune 500 global corporation.

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"Here's what I’ve learned: diversity is how we talk about race when we can’t talk about race. It has become a stand-in when open discussion of race is too controversial or — let's be frank — when white people find the topic of race uncomfortable. Diversity seems polite, positive, hopeful. Who is willing to say they don't value diversity? One national survey found that more than 90 percent of respondents said they valued diversity in their communities and friendships.

"The term diversity has become so watered down that it can be anything from code for black people to a profit imperative. Consider the cringe-worthy experience I had sitting in on a corporate diversity training, where initiates learned that diversity could mean our preferences for working at daytime or at night, or our favorite animal. . . . "

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Sava Berhané, Fast Company: How To Make Gender Equality At Work Matter To Everyone

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. . . "Or Teaching Even White Writers More About Race"

"Greg Howard is a staff writer at Deadspin, a Gawker Media site that covers sports and culture, and has written and reported on everything from the Black Lives Matter movement to the shortcomings of boomerangs," Laura Wagner wrote Monday for NPR's "Code Switch."

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"But he's become best known for his writing over the past year about the behind-the-scenes turbulence at a planned ESPN site titled 'The Undefeated,' which meant to focus on issues of sports and race. Those stories gained a lot of attention, as well as the ire of Jason Whitlock, the polarizing sports columnist who ESPN picked to helm the site. (Whitlock was removed from his position at the site earlier this summer, and was fired altogether from ESPN this month.) . . ."

In the Q-and-A that followed, Wagner asked, "Would [sports writing] and sports coverage look different if more sports journalists were people of color? Or would the focus still be on just writing gamers and 'sticking to sports'?"

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Howard replied, "Oh, for sure. I think if you had more minorities and women and queer people in sports, you would get better, more nuanced conversations, for sure. Just like anything else, if you had it in finance reporting or any kind of reporting. But for that to happen I think you'd have to have minority editors who are going out and giving these assignments to minority writers or are teaching even white writers more about race. . . ."

Marisa Guthrie, Hollywood Reporter: What's the Fate of ESPN Verticals Grantland and FiveThirtyEight.com?

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Jake O'Donnell, sportsgrid.com: Jason Whitlock Toots His Own Horn While Bashing Bomani Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates

What "SNL" Still Doesn't Get About Race

In some ways, "Saturday Night Live" "has never been more ethnically diverse than it is right now, with five black people regularly appearing on camera," Eric Deggans wrote Sunday for NPR's "Code Switch."

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"So why is the program still making so many missteps when it comes to race?

"Donald Trump's upcoming appearance hosting SNL has drawn the ire of Latino groups, who note the show is featuring someone who has made bigoted comments about Mexican immigrants at a time when there are no Latino cast members on the program. This isn't a new problem for SNL; there have only been two Latino and no Asian cast members in the show's 40-year history. . . ."

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Deggans also wrote that it's time for producer Lorne Michaels "and SNL to stop pretending that their diversity issues can be solved by happenstance or that there is something wrong with directly and consciously facing the issue.

"If SNL had a better track record of hiring Latino staffers, then perhaps there would be less controversy over Trump's hosting stint. Or perhaps it would have thought harder about whether it made sense to bring him on the show at all.

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"Because it's hard to imagine Michaels forcing star Kate McKinnon, who is gay, to perform alongside a guest host with a history of making bigoted statements about gay people. Or pushing black cast members like Kenan Thompson to yuk it up alongside a celebrity guest who had expressed bigotry about African-Americans.

"You see, that's the power of having real diversity on your staff or in your show. It makes you think more intentionally about things you should have been deliberately focused on in the first place."

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Mark Hensch, the Hill: Trump calls media 'scum'

Variety: Univision Crew Booted From Donald Trump Campaign Event

Telemundo's Aggressive Approach to News Helps Ratings

"¿Quién es quién?" is a romantic comedy about two twin brothers, one rich and one poor, who switch identities in order to resolve each other's problemsRene Rodriguez reported Sunday for the Miami Herald.

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"When it premieres on Telemundo early next year, it will be the latest volley in NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises' ongoing mission to gain ground on its rival Univision, which has the largest audience of Spanish-language TV viewers in the world. 

"This summer, Telemundo ran a full-page ad in The New York Times crowing about its latest success: narrowing its prime-time ratings gap with Univision from 1.2 million viewers in July 2013 to 238,000 in July 2015. For the week of July 20-24, the difference between the two networks was only 40,000 viewers.

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"Telemundo is drawing bigger audiences through a multi-platform approach:

"Telenovelas and 'super series,' or ongoing telenovelas with fewer episodes, higher production values and new seasons each year, focusing on themes beyond the traditional romantic soap opera. New elements include drug dealers, immigration, humor and biography.

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"An aggressive approach to TV news with an emphasis on breaking stories and reports of particular interest to U.S. Hispanics from regions such as Venezuela and Mexico.

"Reality TV shows geared to Hispanics, such as La Voz Kids, a talent competition patterned after NBC's smash hit The Voice but focusing on child performers.

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"Sports, including exclusive Spanish-language TV rights to air the 2016 Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup competitions through 2026, previously held by Univision.

"Community outreach, including telethons and problem-solving hot lines for viewers. . . ."

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Short Takes

The Federal Communications Commission acted Friday to enable more AM stations to rebroadcast on FM, Susan Ashworth reported for Radio World. The actions were applauded Monday by the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters.

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Lauren Williams, managing editor of vox.com, and Mandy Jenkins, news director for Storyful, have been appointed to one-year terms on the board of directors of the American Society of News Editors, ASNE announced on Tuesday. Williams, based in Washington, "runs editorial operations in a rapidly growing newsroom. Previously, Williams was a story editor at Mother Jones and the deputy editor of The Root. . . ." [Added Oct. 27]

"Jackson State indicated Monday it is once again making players and assistant coaches available to the media, returning to a policy it had not followed the previous three weeks," Antonio Morales wrote Monday for the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss. The school had restricted the media from talking to anyone except interim coach Derrick McCall, prompting a Clarion-Ledger decision to halt day-to-day beat coverage.

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"CNBC will be hosting the next GOP debate on Wednesday night, and senior personal finance correspondent for CNBC Sharon Epperson will be joining the panel of six correspondents covering the action throughout the night," Cate Carrejo reported Sunday for bustle.com. The debate is to be moderated by CNBC's Carl Quintanilla, co-anchor of "Squawk on the Street" and "Squawk Alley"; Becky Quick, co-anchor of "Squawk Box"; and Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood. Epperson is to be part of a panel of experts that includes On-Air Editor Rick Santelliand Jim Cramer, host of "Mad Money w/Jim Cramer," who will also question the candidates on major policy issues, according to CNBC.

Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler, the first known U.S. casualty in the fight against ISIS, was a Cherokee warriorSteve Russell wrote Monday for Indian Country Today Media Network. Wheeler, 39, died in a Delta Force raid on a facility holding ISIS prisoners near Hawijah in Northern Iraq. Cherokee Principal Chief Bill John Baker said in a statement, "Like so many of our Cherokee warriors, Joshua died serving our great country and we are forever indebted to him for his bravery and willingness to accept the most dangerous missions . . . Joshua is a true American hero and we will always honor his life and sacrifices at the Cherokee Nation."

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Deborah Heard, former assistant managing editor for the Style section of The Washington Post, has been named executive director of the Hurston/Wright Foundation, DeNeen L. Brown reported Friday for the Post. "I’m thrilled. As you know from my work I love writers," Heard said. "This was unimaginable to me as a kid in Alabama. It took me a while to discover that there were books by black writers and black life in books. I never could have imagined that an organization like the Hurston/Wright Foundation existed and to be part of it is fantastic. I think the current mission of the foundation is exactly right — it's supporting, it's discovering, it's nurturing, it's honoring black writers and a big part of that mission is connecting black writers with readers."

The editorial board of the Brown Daily Herald at Brown University apologized to first daughter Malia Obama for the lack of privacy during her recent tour of the campus. "It is a shame that Malia was unable to visit Brown and enjoy herself at a party without several news headlines coming out about it the next day. While it is understandable that so many students were excited about her visit, it is likely that few of us would enjoy having strangers take pictures of us while we were unaware and post them on the Internet," the Oct. 20 editorial said.

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"While Hispanics continue to watch traditional television in big numbers, averaging 112 hours a month watching live and DVR time-shifted TV in the second quarter — behind only African-Americans — those numbers were down by five hours from the same period in 2014, according to Nielsen's Total Audience report," R. Thomas Umstead wrote Oct. 19 for Multichannel News. "What is increasing is Hispanics' use of [over-the-top] services such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon. . . ."

William Drummond, journalism professor at the University of California at Berkeley, received the John Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award in Washington on Saturday. The award is presented to outstanding leaders who are alumni of the White House Fellows Program. "You have no idea what a tremendous shot in the arm winning this award has been for me and for the incarcerated Americans I work with at the San Quentin News," Drummond said in accepting the award. "And I say Incarcerated Americans advisedly. This plaque will go into a place of honor in the prison newsroom. Last Sunday, I gave five San Quentin inmates the challenge of writing a memo for the President. Unlike the question on the White House Fellows application, they were limited to 25 words each. I will share with you what they had to say. . . ."

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" 'Why do you think that so many white people love what you write?' asked the award-winning New York Times Magazine journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones, during a sold-out discussion at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture," Felice Léon reported Sunday for the Daily Beast. Ta-Nehisi Coates replied, "I don’t know why white people read what I write. I didn't set out to accumulate a mass of white fans. . . ."

"At least three journalists have been arrested in the past five days in Egypt, and the whereabouts of two of them are unknown, according to news reports," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Monday, calling on Egyptian authorities "to disclose the reasons for the journalists' arrests and release them immediately. . . ."

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"Some 155 journalists from over 40 media organisations across Ghana have joined the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) to petition President John Dramani Mahama to demand sanctions against his staffer, Mr. Stan [Dogbe]," according to the Media Foundation for West Africa. "The petition follows Mr. [Dogbe's] assault of Mr. Yahayah Kwamoah, a journalist with state-owned Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) nearly two months ago. In an incident that many have described as shameful and embarrassing, the Presidential [staffer] seized and destroyed the journalist’s recording equipment at the 37 military hospital. . . ."

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