4.2.4 Case Review
The case of Eric Garner is one that presents emotional appeals from various concerned parties among which are civil society and concerned citizens. The case that involved the choking of Garner leading to his death left people enraged and concerned about the freedoms that citizens of the United States are meant to enjoy. What is more, Eric Garner’s case proved a turning point as it also brought to the fore the voices of political entities such as the Republican party candidate for the 2017 elections as well as the current Democrat President Obama. As presented in the old and new media forms little difference exists on how either forms of media portray Eric Garner. Whereas it is widely believed that Eric Garner was the victim and presented as such in both media platforms. A mixed range of opinions abuond as pertains to the conduct and character of Eric Garner prior to his demise. Nonetheless, a general sense of Garner having posed no threat to the police officers and having not provoked them raises awareness about how African-American men are presented by the media. What is more, police harassment of witness who shot the video that revealed police brutality in Garner’s case goes to show that police brutality extends beyond racial boundaries. Moreover, the media presented also detail the President of the United States reiterating that injustice in the form of police brutality is not a race issue rather a national issue. The table that follows below shows the findings as pertains to Eric Garner’s case.
Presentation of Eric Garner
Table 2: Findings of Negative and Positive Media’s Portrayals of Eric Garner (Source: Author)
4.3 The Case of Michael Brown (August 9th, 2014: Ferguson Missouri)
18-year-old Brown was shot and killed by a White police officer going by the name Darren Wilson. Although information remains scanty on what exactly happened that led officer Wilson to shoot Brown, a jury in November of 2014 declined to charge the officer for the fatal shooting of the teenager (Quah & Davis, 2015). The killing of Michael Brown and lack of the authority’s commitment in charging the officer concerned sparked protests all across the United States. Michael Brown’s shooting is one that is branded to have sparked the Black Lives Matter Movement’s action of street demonstrations that ranged from peaceful to violent from State to State (Day, 2015). The Department of Justice eventually found officer Wilson not guilty and named the shooting incident a case of self-defence. Witness accounts contrary to the story told by officer Wilson collaborating and confirming that Michael Brown’s hands were high up in the air when he was shot by Wilson were found to be incredible. Soon after the findings the popular phrase ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ was used to call for a stop to police shootings of un armed African-American men (Clarke, 2014).
4.3.2 Traditional Media Coverage
126.96.36.199 Cable News Network
Fig: Screenshot of CNN Headline During Wilson’s Trial Period (Source: Clark 2014).
Based on the evaluation of the broadcast recording above, it is apparent that the news brief took the form of Framing and Agenda Setting as discussed earlier in the Conceptual Framework of the research report in Chapter 1. As such, the news story angle that was approached by the broadcaster CNN, was the victimization of the police officer involved in the shooting. As such, officer Wilson is presented as the victim and not Michael Brown.
188.8.131.52 Columbia Broadcasting System
Fig 2: Excerpt from headline run by CBS on Michael Brown’s Shooting (CBS, 2014).
A video that accompanies the headline of the publication above that ran concurrent with the television broadcast on the same story shows a CCTV camera footage of Michael Brown accosting a store owner after taking a pack of cigarettes without paying for them. The report continues to state that officer Wilson stopped Brown a few blocks away after he met the suspect’s description which led to Brown’s shooting. The Framing Theory and The Agenda Setting Theory play a significant role in this news story especially with the video showing an aggressive Michael Brown moments before his confrontation with officer Wilson leading up to his demise.
184.108.40.206 FOX News
Fig 3: Excerpt from Fax News Headline after marked ruling of officer Wilson’s acquittal (FOX News, 2014).
The angle taken by the news story above specifically borders on the aftermath of the ruling that acquitted officer Wilson of all charges regarding the shooting of Michael Brown. However, subtle issues pertaining to the headline have issues alluding to looting and gunshots. As such, the local community which was by and large constituted of African-American protesters was blamed for the property destruction. The news story presents suggestions bordering on the factors such as the people of African-American descent condoning looting and destruction of property and hence should be held responsible.
220.127.116.11 The New York Post
Fig 4: Excerpt from The New York Post Headline (Tocopino, 2014).
The report presents the testimony that officer Wilson presented to the grand jury that led to his acquittal of all charges. The following are few of quotes taken from the officer’s testimony;
“When I grabbed him, the only way I can describe it, I felt like a 5-year-old holding on to Hulk Hogan,” Wilson said. “That’s just how big he felt and how small I felt.” (Tocopino, 2014).
“The only way I can describe it, is it looks like a demon,” the officer said. “That’s how angry he looked.” (Tocopino, 2014).
The description of Michael Brown as published by the article paint an image of an angry, demonic, huge, and very dangerous individual who posed a huge threat to the officer.
4.3.3 New Media Coverage
Fig 5: Excerpts from Facebook Posts Pertaining to Michael Brown (Courtesy of Facebook).
The Facebook posts presented above take a humanist approach when evaluating and discussing issues about Michael Brown’s shooting. As such, the posts are more concerned about Michael Brown as a victim other than a suspect. The posts primarily call for justice for Michael Brown. All posts seem to point to the fact that Michael Brown was unarmed at the time of his shooting and that the police officer was not punished for shooting an unarmed teenager. The Facebook postings are an appeal to action rather pursuit for justice for the victim Michael Brown (Facebook, 2014).
Fig 6: Video Excerpt from YouTube showing Michael Brown accosting store owner (FOX 5 DC, 2014).
The comments section to the video posted on YouTube reveals mixed emotions about Michael Brown’s shooting and, in particular, the reactions faulted the actions by civil society and groups such as #BLM for defending Michael Brown even when it is clear from the video that he was huge and aggressive a stereotype that fits most African-American suspects involved in Police shootings. The following are a few samples of the reactions to the video;
E Quinones1 week ago
Police don't have to "match" force. Tennessee vs. Gardner isn't applicable here as HE was approaching the officer. His hands were not up. It's already been disproven.
Davin Singh1 month ago
He got what he deserved case closed
Blujay15242 weeks ago
1:31 gentle giant my ass. If Mike Brown came after me like that I'd probably shit myself
Henry Hopkins1 month ago
there once was a thug named brown who bumrushed a cop with a frown. six bullets later he met his creator then his homies burnt down the town
Fig 7: Video posted on YouTube with witness accounts of Michael Brown’s shooting (Philiko vs the word, 2014).
The video elicited reactions that were represented in the form of postings in the comments section below the video. Some of the reactions presented by the witnesses are as under;
Ghost man1 month ago
that not true, because there a lot of old black people say mike brown hand are down & evidence say mike hand was down so stop lying
Armindo Baio1 day ago
really???? I'm so done the media always twist the truth
George M1 month ago
CNN didn't even interview these witnesses they're just saying shit. Of course blacks are going to defend them.
Colino Deani3 months ago
He was Murdered and people want to Excuse his murder becasue he was a black kid smh.. White supremacy will be Destroyed
The accounts of witnesses are to a great extent suspect given the nature with which the CNN story was executed. As such, Framing Theory is fundamentally attributed to the delivery of the message by CNN where no witness accounts were actually given only intelligent guessing and corroboration as the story was told from the point of view of the reporter.
Fig 8: Excerpts from Twitter on the Michael Brown Shooting Debate (Twitter, 2014).
The evaluation of various excerpts presented above reveal a mixed opinion based on the debate that surrounds the killing of Michael Brown. As such, Twitter as an open place of expression presents more freedom in the manner with which information is shared or presented. Whereas a majority of the posts regard seeking justice for the shooting of Michael Brown, others such as the FOX News Twitter post is more concerned with categorizing the shooting as a consequence of #STL which stands for St. Louis Crime Problem. Due to the openness of the social space Twitter presents with varied reactions as pertains to the shooting.
4.3.4 Case Review
In this section, overall findings as pertains to the case of Michael Brown are discussed. The table below presents a breakdown of the findings.
Presentation of Michael Brown
Table 1: Findings on media’s positive and negative portrayal of Michael Brown (Source: Author)
The findings in the table above are a clear indication of the juxtaposition of the media whether traditional or new media based on the image that is portrayed of Michael Brown and by extension the Black American male. As such new media out matched conventional media in positive portrayal of Michael Brown as the victim. Attempts at presenting Michael Brown as an individual who has surrendered with his hands up before his lethal killing by officer Wilson are prominent in modern media. By contrast, old media record more instance where reporting on Michael Brown sought to paint him as an aggressive individual who has assaulted officer Wilson moments leading to his killing by the lone officer. Notwithstanding, a more varied reaction is witnessed in new media platforms due to the freedom of expression. As such people are seen to take sides based on the posts that align with their juxtapositions on the issue.
4.4 The Case of Tamir Rice (November 22nd, 2014: Cleveland, Ohio)
12-year-old Tamir Rice was minding his business on a playing ground in Cleveland while holding a replica gun. Soon after police officers pulled over and shot him down within seconds. The police officers identified as Frank Garmback and Timothey Loehmann claimed not to have suspected the gun was a fake. Moreover, the police officers claimed that in the suspect’s description given by dispatch it was not clarified that the suspect was a minor or that he was holding a fake gun. What later ensued were calls for justice from Rice’s family and civil society. Rice’s family eventually received compensation amounting to $6 million from the city of Cleveland as compensation. However, the police officers involved in the shooting of Rice were not indicted.
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