Deafening silence on the Long Beach attack*

Considering that so many people mostly get their news from TV, it is wholly disturbing that it appears L.A.’s local TV news is ignoring an actual hate crime, but doing extensive coverage on race-related lawsuits and celebrity rants. Honestly, I don’t get it. Is it that we think we gotta cut these kids some slack because, hey, blacks have had it tough? Or is it because we don’t think there’s such a thing as a black-on-white hate crime? What’s going on in our TV newsrooms?

Check out the Google, Yahoo and Technorati offerings. Some off the record chats with those who know about these things have suggested that maybe TV News has declined to cover the adjucation (minor’s version of a trial) because no one ever got that “exclusive interview” with the beating victims. A print reporter told me the family has also been choosy with the interviews they’ve done.

But so what? This Huffington Post entry by Earl Ofari Hutchinson seems to articulate the quandary best:

The attacks by the black high school students also put civil rights leaders on the spot. The knock against them is that they rush to the barricades to condemn attacks against blacks, but are virtually mute when blacks are accused of racial attacks.

The filing of hate crime charges against 8 young blacks in Long Beach, California for allegedly beating three white women on Halloween night has put them back on the spot again. And it has also renewed the debate over whether black attacks against whites are really hate crimes, and what should be said and done about them.

Whites still commit the overwhelming majority of hate attacks and blacks are still their prime targets. But blacks do commit hate crimes, and as it turns out are committing lots more of them than generally known. According to the 2004 FBI Hate Crimes report, blacks committed slightly more than 20 percent of the hate crimes in America. In most cases, the majority of their victims are whites. An earlier report from the Southern Poverty Law Center warned that there has been a sharp jump in black-on-white violence during the 1990s. And there’s where the confusion comes in. Did the blacks assault whites solely for their money and valuables, or out of anger for a real or imagined racial insult? That blurred the line between common street crime and hate crimes, and made it easier to ignore or downplay the race aspect of the attacks, and thus not classify them as a hate crime. Authorities also mindful of potential backlash from black leaders, and dreading inflaming racial tensions, are deeply reluctant to brand black-on-white attacks as hate crimes.

In the Virginia and now Long Beach race attacks, city officials and local black leaders were cautious and guarded in what they said about the cases. They bent way over to look for reasons beyond race to explain the assaults. They cited frustration, boredom, and anger, as possible extenuating motives. That wasn’t a bad thing. Black violence against whites can’t match the scale and history of white beatings, killings, and verbal physical intimidation, and harassment of blacks. But that still doesn’t cancel out, let alone justify kid glove treatment and silence when blacks are the perpetrators and whites are the victims.

So here’s my next question: Is there an absence of TV and network news coverage because the usual suspects (NAACP, Rev. Jesse Jackson) won’t touch this case with a 10-foot pole? That’s a sorry reason to not cover a story that has Long Beach (the second largest city in L.A. County) up in arms.

Here’s my previous post on the subject (scroll all the way down) and today’s LAT and PT coverage on the court proceedings. And please don’t get any of this twisted – I don’t know if any of those kids are guilty or not. I’m waiting to see the outcome of this court proceeding like everyone else, and honestly, I’m a little afraid of what the outcome will be. And everyone knows that I care not if a person is white, black, yellow or even purple and gold (although I do root for the Lakers steadfastly) — right is right no matter what. My beef is that TV and cable TV news seems to refuse to touch this issue. If I’m wrong (since I don’t watch every local news channel, obviously), please — let me know.

*I just read in the Long Beach Report that KTLA 5 and KTTV 11 were the only LA news stations to report on the community meeting to discuss the attacks. Shameful.