The Mobile Press-Register had just about a perfect news story today with the latest on the Matthew Owens beating case about which I have written many times at this site, and which continues to earn national attention. Please read Brendan Kirby’s balanced, comprehensive new report right here. The police chief, Micheal Williams,
disputed key elements of the narrative offered by Owens’ sister and other witnesses interviewed by the Press-Register. Contrary to reports that it was a mob-beating, the chief said investigators could only confirm that one person — Terry Rawls — actually assaulted the victim. And Williams said Owens’ wounds and other physical evidence do not support reports that a host of objects, from law furniture to a paint can, were used in the attack.
This is truly bizarre. Pictures taken of Owens in the hospital cleary and unambiguously show a light-blue paint-like material on his face, especially under his left nostril, very prominently — a color that happens to match, exactly, what shows up on TV news footage of a paint can featuring the exact same color at the scene. Likewise, TV footage shows a broken chair with a very large amount of very red liquid dried all over it; if that liquid isn’t blood, and if that chair just happened to be sitting on that porch even though the chair was badly busted, without having had any role in the beating, then I’m a Plutonian and the moon is a great big key lime pie.
Then there is the chief saying they probably will decline to charge not only everybody else on the scene who was in the yard and, in at least some cases, urging on the attackers, but that he may not even arrest the two other people he described as being “in close proximity” to the assault.
As Kirby’s story rightly notes,
Alabama would appear to give police some options to charge others, depending on the facts. For instance, anyone who voluntarily contributes to a crime — even if he was not present for the incident — could be charged as an accessory. Another statute makes it illegal to incite a riot. The law defines that as anyone who “solicits, incites, or urges another person to engage in tumultuous and violent conduct“ that is likely to caused a grave risk of public terror.
At least the police chief now acknowledges what other police spokesmen spent weeks categorically denying, namely that there was indeed racial tension and there were racial epithets, reportedly from both sides, during the incident. Put into proper perspective — an ongoing dispute between two men, ongoing neighborhood tensions that seem to have been only partially race-related, a lone apparent reference to Trayvon Martin (any idiot observer/peripheral participant among the crowd of 20 could say that and not have it be the main cause of the attack), and other context provided by multiple news reports — the attack can be assessed by the public in full context and adjudged accordingly. But when officials deny the obvious, which was that race played at least some role in the attack, then the credibility of the whole investigation is badly undermined, and racial tension actually rises because people resent seeing things swept under the rug. The path to healing is truth, not a false paint job over the facts, and it certainly should not involve denying that the paint itself is even there when it is in reality in plain view.
What sticks in the craw is a consistent double standard, evident also in the Norfolk beating case https://bearingdrift.com/2012/05/03/virginian-pilot-defends-non-reporting-of-norfolk-beating/ , in which crimes of a certain sort by one race are excused, papered over, not reported, played down, etcetera, while crimes of similar sorts by another race are hyped mercilessly; especially when the racial aspects of the first are denied and when the latter may not even have had any racial aspects but the race angle is nationally hyped by people with a history of inciting violence, but who the national media treat as heroes.
When the Obama/Holder Justice Department stands reliably accused, without a single specific denial from the Holder DoJ, of adopting a policy of not enforcing civil rights laws when the victims are white and the perpetrators black https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jul/15/racialist-justice/, then it is understandable why so many people want to make a national issue of the double standard when a case that is obviously at least partially race-based, like the Owens beating, attracts not a peep from DoJ.
This is important. Justice should be color blind. Otherwise, racial backlash begets racial backlash, and the cycle of racial tension might be never-ending.