Today’s Mobile Press-Register contains excellent reporting (on the heels of two days of great reporting by local TV station WKRG) about the racial mob beating of Matthew Owens in Mobile on Saturday night, courtesy of staff writers Brendan Kirby, Rhoda Pickett, and Robrt McClendon. They flesh out what I reported in my column this morning, which is that the victim is no prince, but instead a confirmed troublemaker.
Some neighbors said they have witnessed belligerence from Owens in the past, and police reports show that he has gotten into scrapes before with others — both black and white.
“He probably did as much to instigate this as anybody,” said Marsha Skipper, who lives next door.
Skipper, who is white, said she gets along with her black neighbors and has not had problems with the black children. She said it would be bad for the neighborhood to turn the incident into the opening salvo of a race war.
“I don’t want to see a racial issue with this,” she said. “I don’t want to see a black-white issue out of this.”
On the other hand, despite the absurd statements from the Mobile police downplaying the racial angle, the P-R showed ample evidence of just that:
One of Parker’s neighbors, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation, said he was watching a movie with his family when he heard the confrontation. The neighbor, who is white, said several of the black residents were shouting racial slurs.
He said one of the assailants shouted, “This is justice for Trayvon,” an apparent reference to the unarmed black teenager in Florida whose shooting death at the hands of a Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer sparked a racial fury.
This is not how Trayvon Martin should be remembered, as an instigator of racial violence. One victim does not require that another, unrelated victim be created for some sort of racial expiation of sins.
At the rally protesting the Trayvon Martin case in Florida sponsored by Al Sharpton, with Sharpton looking on approvingly, radio host Mark Thompson fulminated openly about this country still being “a system of racism and white supremacy.” That is a sick lie, and a dangerous one because it sends the message that society cannot be trusted — which to some minds means that racial vigilantism is the only solution. We are better than this. There should be no victims, black or white. We still await Sharpton demanding justice for Matthew Owens.