There’s outrage in Norfolk, Va., today after a white couple was attacked by dozens of black teenagers, and the local newspaper did not report on the incident for two weeks, despite the victims being reporters for the paper.
Even today, the Virginian-Pilot did not cover the crime as news, but rather as an opinion piece by columnist Michelle Washington.
“Wave after wave of young men surged forward to take turns punching and kicking their victim,” Washington wrote, describing the onslaught that began when Dave Forster and Marjon Rostami stopped at a traffic light while driving home from a show on a Saturday night. A crowd of at least 100 black young people was on the sidewalk at the time.
“Rostami locked her car door. Someone threw a rock at her window. Forster got out to confront the rock-thrower, and that’s when the beating began.
“The victim’s friend, a young woman, tried to pull him back into his car. Attackers came after her, pulling her hair, punching her head and causing a bloody scratch to the surface of her eye. She called 911. A recording told her all lines were busy. She called again. Busy. On her third try, she got through and, hysterical, could scream only their location. Church and Brambleton. Church and Brambleton. Church and Brambleton. It happened four blocks from where they work, here at the Virginian-Pilot.”
Washington says neither suffered grave injuries, but both were out of work for a week. Forster’s torso ached from blows to his ribs, and he retained a thumb-sized bump on his head. Rostami reportedly fears to be alone in her home., while Forster wishes he’d stayed in the car.
The columnist admits the story has not, until today, appeared in the Virginian-Pilot.
“The responding officer coded the incident as a simple assault, despite their assertions that at least 30 people had participated in the attack,” Washington explains. “A reporter making routine checks of police reports would see ‘simple assault’ and, if the names were unfamiliar, would be unlikely to write about it. In this case, editors hesitated to assign a story about their own employees. Would it seem like the paper treated its employees differently from other crime victims?”
Washington says the day after the beatings, Forster searched Twitter for mention of the attack, and one post in particular chilled him.
“I feel for the white man who got beat up at the light,” wrote one person.
“I don’t,” wrote another, indicating laughter. “(do it for trayvon martin)”
Trayvon Martin is the unarmed black teen who died after being shot by a community-watch captain with white and Hispanic parents, George Zimmerman, in Sanford, Fla., sparking a wave of outrage long after the incident.
The newspaper is coming under heavy criticism today from residents in the greater Norfolk area, known as Hampton Roads.
“It is unbelievable that the Virginian-Pilot would BURY this story for two weeks for politically correct reasons. That is sad and disgusting,” said David Englert of Norfolk. “Someone should be fired or resign over the decision not to report this attack. It is a sad enough commentary on our society and community to read about how the responding police viewed this crime, but for our only newspaper to decide that they will hide from the truth rather than report the truth is PATHETIC! Any attack by a mob of people on any innocent victim should be put under a bright spotlight for all involved to be judged and exposed as appropriate, and to make sure that the criminal justice system does its job to protect those who obey the law.”
William Tabor of Chesapeake, Va., complained: “Surely the Pilot knew about it. A racially motivated attack is certainly news. Was it not politically correct enough to be reported? Is civilization suspended in Norfolk after dark? If we can’t rely on the police for protection, and our [news] media fails to warn us of such hazards, we can only rely on ourselves.”
Charles Chandler of Norfolk indicated: “I am not sure what I am angrier about. This story, or the crowd of black teens who needlessly and thoughtlessly beat two white victims. Or am I just angry that this still occurs in the year 2012. Nearly fifty years after the marches and the speeches and the declaration of civil liberties for all people. Clearly we are nowhere near the dream Dr. King envisioned. I am angry. I am angry at the calloused cop who stated ‘this is what they do.’ I am angry at the Pilot for hiding it under a bushel.”
And Douglas Gaynor of Virginia Beach brought up the need for self-defense, saying, “If the young lady was armed and trained, she could have whipped out P345 and taken out a few thugs.”