Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Initial TV Reports On Millersville Church Vandalism Rendered Visible Gang-Related Graffiti Invisible

The general pitch of this past weekend's reports on the local news about vandalism in a small church was that the graffiti was probably a racist hate-crime; I heard no mention of gang-related graffiti, despite the fact that on at least one broadcast (News 2) the camera got a clear shot of the name of a street gang, "Crips," scrawled next to "KKK." The other broadcast I watched, NewsChannel 5, not only did not mention gang-related vandalism, but only showed video of racist words like "KKK." Only in this morning's Tennessean am I reading reports of gang-related graffiti in the church amongst the other race-based graffiti.

I'm wondering why, with such ambiguous vandalism, did the initial reports clearly run with this story as some kind of garden variety racist bigotry, leaving no first impression that street gangs could be involved? My initial response to the cognitive dissonance caused by seeing the word "Crips" on the News 2 report while hearing the News 2 reporter talk about race-hate vandalism was to think that I had misread the graffiti. Why do the mainstream news stations seem to continue to ignore street-gang vandalism, in spite of the possibility that such gang activity is growing in our city and may be incubating in small satellite towns like Millersville, far and away?

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