An Oregon newspaper deleted a “poorly worded” tweet after receiving massive backlash when it identified the race of an officer-related shooting victim as white in an apparent effort to prevent riots from breaking out.
The Oregonian was reporting on police responding Friday to reports of a man in a Portland park who was brandishing a gun. The outlet described him as a “[W]hite man in his 30s.” Officers engaged the man at approximately 9:40 a.m. and then fired a “less lethal” projectile at him before another police officer shot him once with his weapon, killing him. The police radioed for medical assistance but the man was declared dead at the scene. Investigators recovered what seemed to be a replica firearm with an orange tip on it. A witness reportedly videotaped the shooting and then gave the footage to the police.
Dozens of protesters began confronting the police in the park over the incident while using bullhorns and shouting expletives and accusations at them. They demanded “justice now,” and were met with “a dozen officers who had donned riot gear.” “Police told protesters over a loudspeaker to leave the area or risk arrest,” the newspaper reported.
WARNING: Graphic Language
(Video Credit: The Oregonian)
Following numerous police-involved shootings across the nation and fearing unrest after the incident, the Portland-based newspaper sent a tweet out emphasizing the victim’s race: “The man who was killed was a [W]hite man in his 30s, according to three sources with knowledge of the investigation. The Oregonian/OregonLive is identifying the man’s race in light of social unrest prompted by police shootings of Black people,” the paper stated.
“Recent shootings include Daunte Wright, who was killed by police in a Minneapolis suburb earlier this week, and two killings in Clark County in recent months,” The Oregonian said, alluding to riots, shootings, looting, and damages that have occurred after those altercations.
A number of people slammed the newspaper for implying that the shooting wasn’t as serious because the victim was white and thus, there was no need to riot.
“The Oregonian is noting the race of the man who was shot in Portland because people won’t care enough to riot unless the victim is black and can use it to forward a political agenda. How instructive,” talk show host Jason Rantz tweeted.
The left also nailed the outlet over the tweet: “So @PortlandPolice murdered a man in Lents Park today and the @Oregonian had the audacity to print this. Someone school them on what solidarity means. Protesting killer cops is going to happen regardless of the race of the victim. The Oregonian staff just showed their whole ass,” one commenter tweeted.
The media outlet deleted the tweet and offered a “clarification” justifying it: “We included information in an earlier tweet about why we identified the victim’s race that was poorly worded. It was not intended to minimize what happened, only to provide context,” the newspaper declared.
Mayor Ted Wheeler, who serves as police commissioner, responded to the shooting: “These shootings always are traumatic for everyone involved and for our community, regardless of the circumstances,” he remarked in a statement. “I recognize why people are concerned and possibly angry. While our understanding of this incident evolves, I urge everyone to proceed with empathy and peace.”
We included information in an earlier tweet about why we identified the victim’s race that was poorly worded. It was not intended to minimize what happened, only to provide context. We generally do not identify race in news stories but often do when reporting police shootings.
— The Oregonian (@Oregonian) April 16, 2021
Conservatives on Twitter shredded the newspaper over its reporting:
He was white, so no need to riot.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) April 16, 2021
"The police killed a man, he was white so you don't need to come and riot" is a sane and healthy message coming from our media. https://t.co/Fsvfmzn49F
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) April 16, 2021
"No need to riot on this one, he was white" – this newspaper, basically https://t.co/VuVTsQRmf6
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) April 16, 2021
Did a newspaper just imply that they leaked info about the skin color of a police shooting victim in order to avert a riot? Or is something else going on here?
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) April 16, 2021
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