Sunday, December 2, 2007

Gee, what color are they?

The Antique Market on North State Street was robbed Saturday morning according to The Clarion-Ledger:
"The suspects asked to see a coin collection. Then, one of the men pointed a handgun at the owner?s head and demanded money.
Even though the store owner complied, the suspect fired a shot, said Jackson police spokesman Sgt. Jeffery Scott. The bullet changed paths after it struck a wedding band the store owner was wearing, Scott said. The store owner sustained non life-threatening injuries as a result of the attack.
Scott did not name the store owner but did say the owner reported the suspects stole between $6,000 and $8,000.
One suspect was described as middle-aged, tall and slender. He was wearing a dark-colored coat. The other was described as short and stocky and wearing a dark-colored shirt.
Anyone with information about this case should contact the Jackson Police Department at (601) 960-1234."

So there are two individuals on the loose who stole several thousand dollars and shot the store owner yet the newspaper doe NOT report their race. This brings to mind Ronnie Agnew's spirited defense of the newspaper's decision not to print the race of the man who raped the Ridgeland jogger a few years ago. In an unintended display of irony, The Clarion-Ledger ask for people with information to contact JPD. Hey stupid, it might help if we knew their race, along with their hair color and other physical features. Nice to know that your policy of not disclosing the race of suspects trumps public safety. If they commit more crimes, you will bear some responsibility.

Hope you can live with it.


Anonymous said...

Completely agree; not disclosing the race of the supsect is a stupid policy. IMO, this policy results from the hypersensitivies of those in the media who are afraid that reporting the race of suspects might bolster stereotypes. Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, for reasons of public safety, it should be reported.

Kingfish said...

Ronnie Agnew even wrote a column defending their decision not to publish the race of the rapist. I lost a lot of respect for him that day.

Tom Head said...

I'm not sure how useful it would be to say "keep an eye out for two black males, one tall and middle-aged, one younger and short." I probably would have reported the races of the attackers if it were up to me, especially if I reported their ages and height, but the description is so uselessly vague that I can't see how it would help.

("Officer! Officer! There are two black males that just came in--one's middle-aged and short, the other's younger and tall!" "Uh, okaaaaayyyyy...")

Kingfish said...

then the CL deserves criticism for not publishing a better description.

Anonymous said...

Here's out I think it helps: it automatically excludes from the suspect pool people who aren't of that race. So, to the extent it is two black makes, none of us have to waste our time being on the lookout for two white makes. In other words, in instantly and automatically excludes a great percentage of people. IMO, that IS helpful.

Tom Head said...

I don't really see how "watch out for two black males" is helpful, since there are approximately 65,000 black males living in this city and 64,998 of them didn't rob the Antique Market. But certainly if I'd written the rest of the description, I would have mentioned race, too, along (one hopes) with more useful information.

Anonymous said...

Here is what I know. Community policing uses citizens as the eyes and ears of the local police force. If the description is purposefully vague in order to be politically correct then please don't expect your citizen watchers to be effective.

Politically correct garbage in will do nothing but to guarantee garbage out.

Anonymous said...

While I see your point (I was anon above except the post immediately above this) re: the numbers, I disagree with the conclusion that that means it wouldn't be helpful. There are a lot of people with dark hair, but I think we would all agree that even if that was the only descriptive element we had, we'd include it. I don't see why we shouldn't do the same with race. It's helpful because - like all other characteristics that are shared by large numbers of people - it narrows the pool of suspects. The only reasons I see used to not include it are ones based on political correctness, and to me, that's substantively outweighed by the potential helpfulness in apprehending a supsect.

Tom Head said...

I'm not worried about political correctness; I am a little worried about the cumulative effects of 2,000 newspaper stories per annum in which the culprits, identified only as black males, are the same 30 or 40 people. Tell me what they were wearing. Tell me if they had any facial hair. Tell me how tall and how old they are. Without that information, it doesn't really matter whether they're black or white--I'm not going to be able to spot them anyway, am I?

Anonymous said...

The CL is a laughingstock. It is not in a league anywhere near a legitimate paper. Papers in other states do not report like this. In addition, the newspaper articles are written about things that a first grader already knows. As a former Jackson, Ms. resident it saddens me that crime has gotten so bad there, and that things have been allowed to go on as such for such a long time. I used to visit the Antique Market. I wish the owner well. Hope that he moves out of Jackson to a safer area soon.

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