Black man killed by police woman based upon false accusations by white caller
In a recent Ohio incident, in Walmart, an African American man was shot dead by a police woman after police received a phone call stating the man was pointing the gun at children. This issue is an example of agenda setting where the media shape and filter reality and tell us how to think about the situation. After viewing the security cameras video, with the accompanied audio of the phone call, it is clear that this issue was an issue of race.
The media’s coverage failed to provide the full context of the situation and thus made it appear that the police woman was justified in shooting the man. The idea of agenda setting is a means of telling people what to think about an issue instead of providing the facts and allowing the viewer to have his own opinions, which also makes the issue seem more salient, noticeable, compared to other issues. This definition coincides with the Hypodermic Needle theory which argues the media has all the power since the audience is weak. Why do media utilize agenda setting? It correlates to hegemonic belief. The media conveys messages that interest the dominant, white population based upon the privilege of that group to hold positions of power. When covered issues deal with race, they usually focus on racial aspects for justification of actions. This practice makes the media’s broadcast of violent crime seem episodic. Media are episodic when they state a black man does x, y and z and police defend public safety by whatever means necessary , which results in death of African Americans. Usually this is where the conversation ends; it should not. If we take issues and focus on solution-based thinking, then we can prevent future incidents from maintaining the episodic nature. If you will notice, the man on the phone accuses the black man of pointing his weapon at two young children; this is false. It should also be noted once the police go around the end cap, in the aisle, the police woman pursues shooting the man even though he is disarmed, at that point. Some may argue, he went back for his gun after disarmament. This is true; but why? This question brings up the important right we, as American citizens, have to protect ourselves. The man had no means to defend himself from the unnecessary police brutality other than the gun he reached for. So we have to question the power imbalance occurring based upon the privilege members of law enforcement, in this instant, being abused. Since media portray the black community as violent and criminals, society is more apt to accept the police woman’s actions. This begs the question: why was the white man on the phone, Ronald Ritchie, allowed to make racist remarks that John Crawford loaded an AR-15, when investigators confirmed John had an unloaded BB gun and he did not point the gun at children? This goes back to white privilege in society to make judgment calls on other ‘inferior’ races as a means of upholding the hegemonic power structure. Let’s reverse the roles for a moment. If a black man would have called police stating a white man had a loaded AR-15 and was aiming it at children, then police would have less likely pull the trigger without giving the man an opportunity to put the gun down. Furthermore, the black man would have, probably, faced charges of falsifying facts about an un-threatening situation. Why is that? Because the media portrays whites as victims more often in violent news stories than as offenders, and vice versa for blacks, news stories about a black man killed by police seems justified because of previous stories about that community. Priming, automatic activation of previous schemas due to similarities in the current circumstance. Schemas are generalized knowledge about objects, people, or groups applied to entire populations. So whenever we hear a black man was involved in a violent or nonviolent crime, we assume black society is violent. This correlates to the Michael Brown case in Ferguson because white hegemonic belief justifies killing black men based upon the agenda setting drive for black news coverage.