"The Most Innocent Victim"? The Vicious Cycle of Media Bias and Police Brutality
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"The Most Innocent Victim"? The Vicious Cycle of Media Bias and Police Brutality

Justine Damond's tragic demise is a grim reminder of the sheer depths of systemic racism

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"The Most Innocent Victim"? The Vicious Cycle of Media Bias and Police Brutality
Pamela Gellar

She was an Australian-born meditation teacher and life coach who was about to be married. She called 911 to report a possible assault and was shot when she ran to meet the police in front of her home. The body and dash cams of the police officer who killed her were not turned on.

Much of the mainstream media has rallied around Justine Damond’s tragically unnecessary death and has not hesitated to question the motives and training of Somali born police officer Mohamed Noor. The people who quickly argue #bluelivesmatter after every possible case of police brutality are eerily silent. No one is feverishly scouring Damond’s past for transgressions. No one is pontificating on how no police officer should be questioned about their motives because their jobs are dangerous.

Philando Castile was an elementary school cafeteria worker who cared deeply for the students he worked with. He was killed in front of his girlfriend and daughter during a traffic stop after telling the police officer he had a legal firearm just like he was supposed to. His girlfriend captured the terrifying injustice on video, perhaps knowing all too well what would happen next.

News outlets searched for any possible reason to condemn Castile and defend the officer who killed him. Sure, there were countless voices supporting him and calling for legal action, but the framing of the issue rested on a very different narrative than that of Damond’s killing. Castile’s detractors went through his past with a fine-tooth comb, arguing that occasional marijuana use and other traffic stops somehow justified his death.

Damond’s family has hired the same lawyer that worked on Philando Castile’s case. Robert Bennett recently said Damond was “the most innocent victim” that he had fought for. He couched this by saying that of course Castile was also innocent, but…it seems like even Bennett believes white women are the victims by default.

Charleena Lyles, a petite, pregnant Black woman was also killed after calling police about an attempted burglary. Is she not also an innocent victim? Instead of widespread outcry and sympathy, articles quickly mentioned Lyles’ mental health and her minor arrests for things like trying to defend herself from an abusive boyfriend.

Let’s not forget 7 year-old Aiyana Stanley Jones, who was shot while sleeping on a couch during a poorly conducted raid. She was the definition of an innocent victim. No one is being punished for her death, by the way.

I observe this case as an aspiring journalist among other things. Amid all the disgusting double standards and lingering white supremacy, I cannot help but be angry with mainstream news outlets for so often denying people of color the respect they are rightfully giving Justine Damond.

The media is tasked with giving the public accurate, fair information without furthering dubious agendas. This means that the media is also to avoid perpetuating harmful stereotypes and narratives that propagate further violence.

Those who bring us the news have a responsibility to curb the implicit biases that create headlines like “Community Rallies Behind Ex-Con Who Misses Job Interview to Save Motorist” when the subject is Black, and ‘Doctor Overdoses at High-Society NYC ‘Cocaine Apartment’” when the subject is white.

This bias filters into every facet of society unchecked and often subconsciously. It is the very same bias, the idea that some people are automatically threatening, that killed little Tamir Rice, Charleena Lyles, Terrence Crutcher, Alton Sterling, and countless others.

We need to do better, because our biases have body counts.

*If you want to learn more about police brutality, or contribute to organizations that combat it, click here

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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