TUESDAY, MARCH 9, 2021
These claims appeared in the Post: The column appeared last Friday—on Friday, March 5—in print editions of the Washington Post.
The column appeared at the top of page A21, the page which carried the header FRIDAY OPINION. Accompanied by a photograph, it dominated the page.
Despite the bungled journalistic practices it would place on display, the column concerned a very important topic. Hard-copy headline included, this is the way it began:
BRISCOE (3/5/21): When your loved one is killed by the police
I’ve gotten the worst call of a lifetime three times in my life. The first one came in 2001, when I was told that Himey—my best friend and the man I wish I’d married—had been shot and killed. The second came in 2010, when my son Donald—a great student who dreamed of being a film producer—had been fatally shot in the head. The most recent was in 2016, when Che—my big brother and protector—was shot seven times by police, handcuffed, and left to bleed out for six and a half minutes before aid was administered or paramedics arrived. When aid finally came, it was too late. Another person I loved, killed by a gun.
The aftermath of each of those shootings was remarkably similar: the pain, the loss, the stigma. And yet, there was one important difference: how justice was, or was not, done.
The column was written by DeVitta Briscoe, identified as "a member of the Everytown Survivor Network and the acting director of Not This Time!"
Briscoe's column would focus on the shooting death of her brother, Che Taylor. In February 2016, Taylor was shot and killed by two Seattle police officers.
Stating the obvious, the general topic of police shooting deaths is a very significant topic. Starting in 2015, the Washington Post had performed a major service though the creation of its Fatal Force web site—a site which tracks the number and nature of all such deaths across the United States.
In this instance, Briscoe's column began with a remarkable bit of personal history. Over the course of the past twenty years, she has experienced the shooting deaths of three loved ones—of a son, of a best friend and most recently of a brother.
Her brother, Che Taylor, was shot and killed in 2016 by two police officers. Briscoe's column would focus on that shooting death. The column continued as shown:
BRISCOE (continuing directly): Himey and Donald’s killers were convicted and are in jail, paying their debt to society. Che’s killers can still be paid to protect and serve us, despite the fact that they shot him within nine seconds of approaching him, while he complied with orders, and then blamed it on him reaching for a gun in his waistband. There was no gun in his waistband.
This is a familiar scenario in police killings...
According to Briscoe's account, the police officers who shot her brother are still on the job.
They had blamed their actions "on [her brother] reaching for a gun in his waistband." That said, "There was no gun in his waistband," Briscoe now said. Rather plainly, she was implying that the officers;' account had been false.
As she continued, Briscoe said this is "a familiar scenario in police killings." At that point, she cited several well-known shooting death incidents, in all of which the person who died was black.
In print editions, this column was given a prominent platform by the Washington Post. It's abundantly clear what Briscoe was saying about her brother's death—and about such shooting deaths in general.
The police officers had said that her brother went for a gun—but there was no fun in his waistband. In publishing Briscoe's column, the Washington Post was giving high prominence to a very familiar story.
It dealt with a very important topic. If only for that very reason, it's astonishing that the Washington Post would put this column in print.
The Post should be ashamed of itself for putting this column in print. That said:
In doing so—in publishing that account of the facts—the Washington Post helped us see one of the ways "journalism" currently works here in the streets of Our Town.
To what extent is our nation's modern journalism "Storyline all the way down?" To what extent do the major newspapers of Our Own Town traffic in preapproved, novelized tales instead of in actual facts?
We all can see the various ways in which news orgs in The Others' towns traffic in massaged, phony claims. To what extent do we play the same reindeer games Over Here, in the streets of Our Town?
Anthropologists say this is bred in the bone. We'll examine this topic all week.
Tomorrow: Today we have clicking of links