Another Example of a Hijacked Free Press

RECEIVED Sat., May 30, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Jordan Smith's article in the May 29 issue of the Chronicle [“Nathaniel and Li'l Nate,” News], on the life and death of Nathaniel Sanders II, looks like another example of a free press that's been hijacked, colluding with the current power structures of Austin.
    First of all, Smith writes from the premise, in my mind, of a white stereotypical view that all African-Americans (especially young folks) are criminals. Today's cultural axiom is this: If persons of color get shot by the cops, it's because they were involved in criminal activity. The dominant, white-structured governmental system reasons they must be stopped at all costs, apparently.
    It's too bad Smith took this tack in her article when she could have focused on another, deeper problem: the APD's poor reputation in communities of color. Add to this to the institutional racism embedded in the force, and you have an important topic.
    Why didn't she focus on Officer Leonardo Quintana's alleged domestic violence incident? Why didn't she focus on the egregious and unconscionable behavior of leaving off the video and audio of the crime scene? Many police departments would fire an officer immediately if this happened, but not the APD.
    In summary, Smith was led by a nose ring to prop up the APD's actions, by smoke-screening the victim, no matter what his past criminal history had been, to not ask the critical questions that good journalists should ask. Do the Austin cops have any right to shoot young African-American men who are asleep in a car? The city's governmental system has some poignant responsibilities to investigate and own up to.
Christopher Bear Beam, MA
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