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Sunday, December 21, 2014

In response to Joseph Cotto

Editor,

I am absolutely appalled by the lack of journalistic standards in the Daily Lobo this year.

The article by Joseph Cotto had the feeling of a Fox News report. The article is a direct representation of what is wrong with America today: Men of color are guilty until proven innocent.

Mr. Cotto’s recount of the facts is just a regurgitation of the police narrative. He completely ignores the fact that none of this has been proven in a court of law. As a matter of fact, many of the facts that he spits out are highly disputed. Mr. Cotto proudly proclaimed that “Michael Brown swiped several cigars” and “Brown menacingly backed the clerk away from the door.” Where did he get these facts? He just narrated a video that was provided to the public by the police department.

The video was released by the police to show how bad Michael Brown was and that the police were justified in murdering him. The problem is that they have never positively identified the person in the video as Michael Brown. The store owner and the clerk both believe that the person in the video is not Michael Brown. The family members do not believe it either, and have never positively identified him in the video.

Even if it was him in the video, the storeowner and the clerk both stated that they never had any intention of pressing charges. The clerk wasn’t even the one who called the police. It was a customer who witnessed the incident. That means that the police were responding to a call from a bystander and never actually went to the clerk to verify if a robbery actually occurred.

So, they stopped a young black man who may or may not have been involved in a robbery that they never verified and killed him. Mr. Cotto goes on to tell us the police interaction only from the police narrative. He fails to acknowledge that there is a lot of doubt in their story. Why would the Ferguson PD and Mr. Cotto automatically believe that Michael Brown was guilty of robbery? Why would Mr. Cotto blindly repeat the facts even though they have not been proven? The answer is simple: Michael Brown was a young Black man. He must have done all of those bad things that he is accused of, right? The police would have aggressively investigated a young white shoplifter too, right?

If Mr. Cotto believes that I am playing “racial minority politics” or rationalizing “collective fury with fantasies of white oppression,” he needs to take his head out of the sand and pay attention to reality. He may want to take some time to look at the make-up of our prison population and read the history of sentencing laws. Our system of law is designed to target young men of color. Police departments are not driving around white neighborhoods and shooting white kids for petty crime.

Mr. Cotto is a horrible journalist and the Lobo staff should be ashamed of printing something like this. The paper has every right to print material that discusses multiple viewpoints, but the material needs to have at least a minimal journalistic standard of fact checking.

John Mitchell

UNM School of Law