Spokane residents are outraged over the beating death Wednesday of 88-year-old Delbert “Shorty” Belton, a WWII vet who was wounded in the Pacific and now has become a casualty of another simmering battle, one taking on racial overtones among people responding to stories in the local media.
It was also a headline story on Fox News Friday morning. There is an update with this column.
One reaction noted, “The left can’t blame this attack on guns and the NRA.”
Stories on KXLY and in the Spokesman Review newspaper are garnering reactions from people who are tired of what they claim is a double standard in reporting “black-on-white” crime, though this might also be construed, as one newspaper reader asserted, a crime against the elderly. There is no indication that race played a part in this attack.
Spokane police have released surveillance camera images of the two suspects, both black males in their late teens. KHQ, the local NBC affiliate, has sharp-as-possible images of the suspects.
By all accounts, Belton was attacked and brutally beaten in a parking area outside the Eagles Lodge. He died Thursday morning at Sacred Heart Medical Center.
From the remarks posted by KXLY and the Spokesman Review websites linked above, the fuse was already lit over a perceived hypocrisy in reporting crimes that may have racial overtones, and Belton’s beating death simply threw gasoline into the mix. Several responses point accusing fingers at “(Al) Sharpton and (Jesse) Jackson,” and others complain about political correctness.
There are people who blame the two civil rights activists for exploiting race divisions following the Trayvon Martin shooting and the trial of George Zimmerman earlier this year.
But, as that reader “kb” noted, there are no arguments erupting over gun control. Had Belton been armed and defended himself by wounding or killing his attackers, this would ignite another furious debate over gun control, concealed carry and possibly profiling.
The attack occurred around 8 p.m. Wednesday evening. according to the published reports, and the crime made the lead headline on the Drudge Report, where it remained early Friday morning. At that hour of the evening, it is still light out across the Inland Northwest. Police K9 units were not able to track the killers, and as this column was written, a manhunt was underway.
The story on KXLY had attracted more nearly 1,000 comments, and the newspaper shows more than 100 reactions. People are angry, and in some cases, at each other.
A few are wondering why it is that a man who survived WWII — a member of the “greatest generation” that literally saved the world from Nazis and imperialists — should be brutalized and left to die because, as the newspaper noted, he was “waiting at the Eagle Lodge for a friend because he didn’t want her to walk in alone.”
One does not always find men like that anymore, but Wednesday night two thugs did and they left him beaten and dying in a North Spokane parking lot.