The headlines read: “Police chief: Veteran officer shot unarmed 19-year-old.”
Once again – this time in Madison, Wis. – a white police officer shot and killed a black man. The racial difference between the two men involved was front and center—overplayed, in my opinion. Immediately after the shooting, crowds of black citizens in Madison gathered in the street to protest before any details of the shooting were disclosed. Signs were held aloft proclaiming “Black lives matter.” Well, duh! All lives matter.
Once again, we have reactionary racial behavior drowning out important circumstances surrounding a tragic event. Dead is Tony Robinson, 19. In hot water is Madison police officer Matt Kenny, a 12-year veteran of the force. Preliminary reports indicate Kenny responded to a call to police, went to an apartment and forced his way in after hearing a disturbance inside. Police Chief Mike Koval told reporters that Kenny then was assaulted by Robinson. That’s when the shooting occurred.
The press also seems to be trumpeting that Robinson was unarmed at the time, implying that he was an innocent victim of an aggressive cop. But stop and think about it: Koval was an armed police officer, so it could be argued that Robinson had immediate access to a sidearm. When the investigation is completed, it might even come out that Robinson was trying to grab Kenny’s gun.
The point here is: Editors need to try harder to remain accurate and impartial in their headline writing, not contribute to an inflammatory atmosphere that feeds off sensationalism.
Why not this headline: “Rowdy man shot in scrap with cop”?