While the shooting of an unarmed, young African American, Michael Brown, by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, is a tragedy no matter what the outcome of the investigations, including the one promised by President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, many observers who have worked -- or continue to work -- in law enforcement complain about the media feeding frenzy. To them, too many news people inject themselves into the coverage and use a familiar "story template" that needs to be updated or cast aside.
To them, the news media have turned a local tragedy into a national circus of sorts that reinforces a number of stereotypes, among them the trigger-happy, racist police abusing and victimizing the hopeless inhabitants of minority neighborhoods where young people are guilty until proven innocent.
One can only speculate about what would have happened if it was the police officer in Ferguson who was killed by the black youth. However, there was a similar situation that occurred last month in which the cop was not only killed but the community actually erected a memorial to honor that young officer's killer. Unfortunately, the national news media chose to ignore the entire incident and if reporters did cover the killing they ignored the memorial erected for a cop-killer.
In an Examiner news story dated July 15, 2014, the following was revealed.
Residents of a New Jersey neighborhood erected a memorial in the aftermath of a cop-killing to honor an alleged drug-addicted murderer, not the young police officer, according to local news reports in mid-July.
During the weekend, when he responded to a burglary-in-progress call, Jersey City, N.J., Police Officer Melvin Santiago was the victim of a surprise attack in which he was fatally wounded by gunman Lawrence Campbell. Upon arriving at the crime scene, in front of a Walgreen's pharmacy, Officer Santiago's fellow police officers fired and killed the Campbell when he refused to drop his weapon.
In a shocking demonstration of lawless bravado, residents of that Jersey City African American neighborhood created a prominently displayed sidewalk memorial not in honor of the slain young rookie cop, but to honor his killer as hero.
"This memorial says more about the residents of the city than it does about the man who ended the life of a kid who wished to protect and serve the very people honoring his killer," said former New York police detective, Sid Franes, himself an African American lawman.
Some of the creators of the cop-killer memorial designed T-shirts that they taped to the wall on which neighborhood residents wrote messages in memory of the cop-killing Campbell.
The killer's widow, Angelique Campbell, told a New Jersey cable television news reporter that she wishes her husband killed more police officers. While she wasn't a witness to the shooting incident, she claimed that police officers were out to kill her husband. The cop-killer's wife hours later apologized for her harsh language.
Angelique later apologized for her comments, but I don’t see how you can walk back something like that.
While Jersey City detectives continue to investigate the shooting, they claim that they were told that upon stealing the murder weapon, Campbell told a friend to watch the 11 o'clock news to see how famous he'd become.
Full disclosure: The writer, Jim Kouri, is the former director of public safety at Saint Peter's University in Jersey City, N.J. Several members of the Jersey City Police Department worked for him at that Jesuit university.