Unjustified media perspective about killed man

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.

James Crawford, 22, was shot inside a Beavercreek, Ohio, Wal-Mart for being accused of point an AR-15 at children. Later investigation proved he was carrying a BB gun that was empty and questions arise that the officer had no probable cause to shoot John.

John Crawford, 22, was shot inside a Beavercreek, Ohio, Wal-Mart for being accused of point an AR-15 at children. Later investigation proved he was carrying a BB gun that was empty and questions arise that the officer had no probable cause to shoot John.

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.




4 thoughts on “Unjustified media perspective about killed man

  1. I agree that the police were given inaccurate information by the caller. So the police based how they were going to handle the situation on that information. This is too bad for the victim. Did the caller know that his state, Ohio, has an open carry law? Anyone could’ve been walking around that store with a gun in the open. I wonder if the police considered that law? I’m wondering if the victim went back for his weapon in defense. Maybe he didn’t know why he was being shot at or who was shooting him. I do not see or hear the police attempt to ask the victim to drop his weapon. This man was fired upon immediately.

  2. Robrienco, thank you for your insight. I like your point about the open carry law in Ohio; however, I think that law was simply overlooked due to the fact an African American man had a gun. The key to overcoming social injustices is summed up well by sociologist C. Wright Mills: the solution lies in “the ability to see the relationship between the individual and the larger society” for “many of our particular problems (& our successes as well) are not unique to us but are the result of larger social trends.” This quote explains the interconnectedness of society and proves that without collective action, the issue of race will continue to be blamed as a “white problem” or “black problem” based upon whose side you are on. I do not believe racial inequality is strictly between blacks and whites. Now, Muslims are included in this cyclical issue. By cyclical I mean that when some members of the dominant, hegemonic society believe the media’s representation of a group, they act upon it without being critical. Furthermore, when some minority groups hear about a white man shooting a black man, ei. the Ferguson case with Michael Brown, the minorities assume that all whites are a threat and are racist. However, by believing this, these groups are endorsing a priming method created by the media. Instead we need to focus on Mills’ solution by connecting the dots between local instances and larger social trends that have plagued our world for centuries. For without collective action, our ability to reach a post-racial society will be impossible because small communities make little wakes, in large issues, going mostly unnoticed. That is why social problems are never solved without socially constructed, pragmatic solutions that everyone agrees to follow.

  3. I found that many key terms are used and explained well in this blog post. I do agree with you that the media sometimes misled us to know what really happens and that reinforce the hegemonic beliefs. I also think that the stereotype of a part of the black is also reinforce which is not good at all. It’s not just the case of how people think about the black, now it becomes a problem when people do nothing to guarantee the fairness in the society because they could not really see the real problem.

  4. Thuy, thank you for your insight. You bring up a good point that society may not see the real problem and I believe that is due to the salience of one aspect outshining others. In this instant, the race card is the most salient piece of information. Because of this, it blinds the viewer to the actual problem. We, as consumers of media, fail to critically analyze what is portrayed on television. This results in the perpetuation of the hegemonic view of blacks being violent. For this issue promotes the wrong moral evaluation and sparks the wrong treatment. Thus, we need to become more educated so that these stereotypes are not passed onto the next generation.

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