Once again, the media have stumbled upon a case of law enforcement malfeasance, printed the police’s official line and falsely insinuated that Occupy was somehow involved in a killing.
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The case, in which a San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officer shot a 32-year-old Oakland man, Pralith Pralourng, to death, garnered articles from Bay Area media sources consisting of little more than the account offered by SFPD Chief Greg Suhr. Huffington Post’s dispatch included this scintillating clue to the thrilling whodunit: “Occupy SF pointed out that the shooting occurred blocks from their encampment, but it’s unclear if the movement is related to the incident.”
Hmmm … suspicious. In fact, the only way Occupy SF was involved in the shooting was by beating Huffington Post and the rest of the press to the scene. Huff and every other news outlet was stuck reporting its stenography of Chief Suhr’s tortured claim that a cop shot the suspect as he lunged at her with a box cutter, whereupon, the cop shot him twice in the chest, then handcuffed him “for safety reasons” and then uncuffed him and performed CPR. Meanwhile, Occupy SF activist Robert Benson had already gotten people on film testifying that they had seen the man shot while handcuffed.
This is not only the Ockham’s razor explanation for a man with cuff marks shot to death with two bullets to the chest, but also something of a sore spot for Bay Area law enforcement. In 2009, footage of Bay Area Rapid Transit police officers shooting one of Pralourng’s fellow Oaklanders, 22-year-old Oscar Grant III, while in police custody spread on the Internet and sparked huge community backlash. Despite this history, The Huffington Post raises its eyebrow not at the chief’s official account, but at the activists with the superior journalism.
This is just the latest in a mounting series of insinuations by the liberal press that Occupy activists around the country are lethal. A week earlier in New York, a brief sensationalist headline orgy ensued when cops fed the press an “OWS Murder Link!” The story, sourced to police, held that a chain used in the Fare Strike (on which Truthout has previously reported) contained traces of DNA found at the scene of an eight-year-old unsolved murder. Turned out it was a lab error. Whoops.
In February, The Huffington Post’s headline “Horrifying Murder in Berkeley – Is Occupy to Blame?” also turned out to be complete bunk. The story faithfully reprinted the Berkeley, California, Police Department’s (BPD) excuse for turning up late in response to a 911 call: they were “being reconfigured in order to monitor a protest,” according to a BPD spokesman. Andy Stepanian of The Sparrow Project tweeted photos backing up his contention that “there was no police presence” on the march. After much hounding, The Huffington Post eventually corrected the record that it was not the “community,” as the report had previously read, but “police” who blamed Occupy for the murder.
In case after case in which the police blow it – failing to respond promptly to an emergency call, tainting lab results and now killing a guy – the media write the reports police tell them to and hints wind up in the copy that Occupy protesters are involved.
Police in Cleveland and Chicago have already drawn gullible protesters into bogus plots in order to charge them with terrorism. The criminalization of dissent will require considerable media cooperation and it continues to seem as though the media are willing to do their part.