Monday, April 09, 2012

The Tulsa murders

ABC News reports that the two white guys arrested on suspicion of gunning down black people at random in Tulsa have confessed. How many times now are we going to have to hear that race had nothing to do with it?

I haven't checked on the FOX News scripts yet. But I'm guessing there and from other white "conservatives" we'll hear the stock lynch-murder apologies on the model:

  1. This particular crime is bad and terrible, etc.
  2. But it has nothing to do with race.
  3. And, now, I don't have anything against the colored people or anything, BUT ... (fill in with criticism of civil rights leaders, blacks killing other blacks, yadda, yadda, yadda)

The ABC story is here, Christina Ng and Pierre Thomas, Tulsa Shooting Suspects Said to Confess 04/09/2012:

Two Oklahoma men accused of a deadly shooting spree last week that apparently targeted black people at random along Tulsa, Okla.'s streets have confessed to the shootings, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Jake England, 19, confessed to shooting three people, the AP reported. Alvin Watts, 32, confessed to shooting two.

The rampage left three people dead, and two more were seriously wounded. Watts is believed to have shot two of the three who died, according to the documents.

All of the victims are black. England and Watts, who police describe as white, have not been charged with hate crimes.
As in all crimes of this sort, it's always worth remembering that when a case like this goes through the legal process, it can always come out looking different. Even false confessions do happen. Ken Burns' daughter Sarah Burns has a book about a notorious case in which five defendents actually confessed to a crime they didn't commit, The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding (2011).

The victims had names:

Police identified the deceased victims as Bobby Clark, 54, and William Allen, 31, and Dannaer Fields, 49, the only woman among the victims. There was no connection between the suspects and victims, police said at a news conference on Sunday.

Two males were critically wounded in the shooting spree. All of the victims were targeted while they were out walking, and apparently did not know each other.
Another sad case of how our press covers these things is no doubt in process already. There's a more than marginal chance, I'm guessing, that these guys had some kind of times to extremist rightwing groups of some kind, possibly with some kind of crackpot Christian Reconstruction ideology. But the press will not call them "terrorists", even though randomly shooting black people is standard segregationist terror. If and when their ties to far-right groups are discovered, the press will mostly ignore it and treat them as "lone nuts". Even though there are two of them. And the press will certainly not call them "Christian terrorists".

On the other hand, if they should turn out to be Muslim, well, you know what the difference would be. Although if it's white guys murdering blacks, then maybe even being Muslim wouldn't be enough for the press to call them "terrorists".

This is also in the ABC News report:

On Thursday at 4:04 p.m., England wrote, "Today is two years that my dad has been gone shot by a f------ n----- it's hard not to go off between that and sheran I'm gone in the head."

According to England's Facebook page, his girlfriend, Sheran Hart Wilde, recently died.
But I'm sure that some people will argue with a straight face that race had nothing to do with this. The ABC report didn't give any further information about the facts of the guy's father's death, or even if the father and the girlfriend are actually dead.

How long before conservative ministers start saying the Tulsa murders are a matter of "social justice" and therefore not about race? No, it doesn't make jack for sense. But that's what Franklin Graham and other Christian Right types were saying about the Trayvon Martin murder.

And, of course, it would be "shrill" to suggest that the widespread excuses and defenses from so many white people for George Zimmerman, who also admits to having shot and killed Trayvon Martin, had anything to do with creating a climate that might encourage two white guys to just go start randomly shooting black people in Tulsa.

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