The Clarion-Ledger posted a sensationalistic headline and story yesterday about a west Jackson rally against dangerous suburban police chases into the city, followed by intriguing edits of what a Jackson city councilman actually said. The Ledger's video was edited down for the most dramatic effect, and the following text in the story was even worse.
After the Capitol Street Coalition gathered to protest the death of Lonnie Blue Jr. Friday morning, The Clarion-Ledger posted the story on its website headlined "Stamps calls Clinton 'Ferguson waiting to happen". The story's lead image was edited video of Councilman De'Keither Stamps speaking out against the Clinton police chase of shoplifters that resulted in the death of an innocent bystander.
The video contained only a snippet of Stamps' remarks, essentially calling for a boycott of surrounding cities that do not rein in their dangerous police habits and referencing Ferguson, Mo. The video skipped over Stamps' initial remarks offering condolences to the family and "encouraging folks to speak a universal language" and went right to the juicier part:
Ledger video: "Every surrounding city who refuses to use common-sense policies must be economically challenged because it's not safe for you to shop there. Clinton is a Ferguson waiting to happen. Clinton is a city with a high minority population and oppressive police tactics. It's steps away, steps away from a Mike Brown. It's only a matter of time."
The story beneath the video was much worse, with only snippets of that quote included, and the vital part about Clinton having "a high minority population and oppressive police tactics"—which explains Stamps' Ferguson analogy—simply cut out:
Ledger story: Referencing the violent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, Jackson Councilman De'Keither Stamps said Clinton is a "Ferguson waiting to happen" and is "steps away from a Mike Brown. It's only a matter of time if this culture does not change."
The Clarion-Ledger story followed that with edited additional comments that were not included in its video of Stamps:
Ledger story: "It seems to me that there are some elected officials and some police officials who want to maintain the culture," Stamps said. "What we must make them understand is that culture is not acceptable. Misdemeanor property crimes are not worth human life. ... We've got some great police officers in the metro area, but common sense must prevail in their actions." (bold emphasis added)
Stamps is now passing around the full video, which is below this post, to "#Tellthewholestory," which indicates information that the Ledger simply cut out of the middle of his quote. That part is a key response to those who say the police have no choice but to chase petty criminals.
The Ledger omitted these bolded parts of Stamps' complete quote: "Misdemeanor property crimes are not worth human life. You should not be going 120 miles per hour in Clinton or Jackson. Because we've got news copters, we've got radios. I've never seen anyone outrun a radio. No matter what kind of fast vehicle they have, it will not outrun a radio or even a text message. We've got some great police officers in the metro area; common sense must prevail in their actions."
The irresponsible news story reads like it is designed to get a rise out of white people who disapprove of the #BlackLivesMatter movement (which exploded after Mike Brown died in Ferguson) and who are more likely to obsess over Kenneth Stokes' inappropriate remarks then to be concerning over the serious threat of suburban police chases to the lives of all metro residents, regardless of race.
The carefully crafted Ledger story seems to have hit its mark, causing a series of angry and even racist remarks that show an acute unawareness that there are other ways to catch fleeing shoplifters other then high-speed pursuits in city streets (which includes using the radio, as Stamps said in the part the Ledger deleted from the middle of his quote).
The first comment underneath it is "Sounds like Stamps has an overload of Kenny Stokes KOOLAID." Then: " . . hmm a coalition to end police chases ?? . . . . what about a plan for the coalition to end or attempting to end ON-going crime isssues . . search out criminals uhmm . . . hell even family members . . police chases are the symptons . . solve the REAL problems which is the difficult part on behalf of the community & the NON-leaders . . . & i wont even address the ferguson reference . . .
That is followed by a rather-blatant response: "Hush. That woud require blacks to accept responsibility for what is happening and what needs to be done to fix it. Don't you know it is ALWAYS someone else's fault?"
Other similar comments followed, including: "Isn't it amazing? Every griup in this country has some problems, but black majority neighborhoods & schools & cities everywhere in the country are problems. Oceans of welfare brats, high crime rates, blighted neighborhoods & high levels of violence - and no one else riots & loots. Flint MI is no different than Clinton MS, and MI has NONE of the history of MS. AND NOT ONE POLITICIAN WILL STAND UP AND SAY IT."
And this one: "Stamps is chomping at the bits, hoping something like a riot will break out so he can become the next Al Sharpton or Jessie Jackson."
As of mid-day Saturday, no one had posted anything intelligent under that Ledger story about the very real dangers of police pursuits and the smarter policing practices being discussed around the country. The comments, that is, followed the tone of The Clarion-Ledger's choices and careful edits.
Because that is not the kind of discourse this kind of poorly assembled story is designed to create.
UPDATE: Councilman Stamps called a press conference on Easter Day to address the outcry over his comments after The Clarion-Ledger article appeared. Here is the full video: