32 Mugshots & Knockout Games

Mugshot of boxer Mike Tyson used to combine both subjects of the article

Nothing spoils my marginally okay mood than a message that something’s wrong with you because of what you are. Although the message isn’t directed at me as a singular person, the message usually encompasses everyone in the group to which I share physical similarities. And even though, most messages do not implicitly say that I belong to a group of degenerates, I know that (1) regardless, I fit the description of lawlessness and deplorable behavior, and (2) I need to not appear as threatening as possible. But even though a brotha tries his hardest not to scare people with his presence, the only surefire way of not causing anxiety to others is if I appear as a white guy.

This brings me to the subjects of today’s what-it’s-like-to-be-black-in-America edition of Brotha Wolf’s blog. Before I continue, let me say that this is not for sympathy purposes, nor will it excuse bad behavior. I know the second part will fly right over racist passerbys, but this blog is for strictly for humans only.

Grievance number one is all of the media hype about the so-called knockout games, where youth seek random people in the street and attempt to knock them out with one blow. It caught immediate attention of the news partly because most of the suspects involved are black. And it’s been overreported ever since in its new designation by the mainstream media as a type of ‘game’.

An image from a surveillance camera after someone was knocked down to the ground.

Now, I call it ‘hype’ because many experts strongly disagree that it’s as widespread as the news media makes it seem. Assault and bullying in this fashion where random people are targeted are rare. However, the coverage of these games have shot up, causing those on the right to stoke fears of marauding black youth in American streets. In the meantime, those on the left will implement tougher laws and penalties, including curfews and more cops.

Davey D gives important points for serious consideration before fearing or hating black youth – again:

If we look at this honestly, every generation and every inner city has had some sort of ‘knock out game‘ or unsavory group action that was attributed to Black youth that the media brought to the forefront. These actions were never as big and widespread as reported but it made for good TV and gave politicians a chance to talk tough and push for new harsh laws.  What’s being report is now is the repackaging and rewording an age-old propaganda designed to stoke fears, increase ratings and justify demonizing and criminalizing entire groups of people.

Before you consider it as a “black thing”, also realize that this type of crime is not limited to black youths as history shows. Davey D continues:

None of this can separated from the vicious attacks that have routinely visited Mexican day labors by xenophobic types in violent versions of ‘Knock out’ commonly known as ‘Beaner Jumping‘ or ‘Wetback Whippings‘. In some parts of the country attacks on Mexican migrants would occur with folks referring to them as ‘Walking ATM Machines‘ because it was believed they carried cash were unlikely to report crimes to the police.

It was just a few years ago that our nation’s newspapers were splattered with headlines about how a group of suburban teens from Long Island attacked two Ecuadorean Brothers who were walking arm and arm thinking they were gay and ‘illegal’ gay and illegal brutally beat them with bats killing one. Once caught it was discovered that this group of teens who had dubbed themselves ‘The Caucasian Crew’ had been on a week-long spree of jumping Brown folks who they thought were undocumented.. They described Beaner Jumping as a commonplace game.. You can read about that HERE…

If you lived in Boston and went to South Boston same thing would happen.In fact folks may wanna look at the rap sheet of actor Mark Walhberg who as a youth was quite fond of jumping Blacks and Asians youth.. He was not an exception to what was often described by many as the most racist city in America. Read about that HERE.

In generations past in cities like LA the game was called Spook Hunting.. In fact there was white racist gang calling themselves the Spook Hunters who would patrol the borders of Watts and Mexican neighborhoods to make sure no Blacks or Brown folks would leave the area. For fun they would head into the area and attack folks. Many of these folks were war veterans.. You can read about that HERE..

No one is disregarding the so-called ‘games’. I do not approve one bit of this behavior by anyone. But I will not accept that this is a “black” problem. It’s erroneous and immoral on several levels to do so.

Grievance number two comes in the form of an issue of the Chattanooga Free Times Press where it published a story about the arrests of 32 men charged with gun and drug crimes. Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Todd called them the “worst of the worst.” But that’s not all.

You know how newspapers do. Crime is a front pager, and who’s face or faces do we see in mugshots and perp walks? If you know the answer, then you know that in the second front page story where the criminals’ histories were included, that all 32 mugshots were displayed, and all of the men were black.

It goes without saying that the some Black people in that area were pissed off, found it offensive and complained. The editor, a white woman named Alison Gerber, defends the newspaper’s decision to include mugshots:

It was an in-your-face presentation, and some readers thought it was a mistake, that we should not have published the mugshots at all. Even some in the newsroom disagreed with the decision to run them — or thought we should have placed them on an inside page where they wouldn’t be as noticeable and would be seen by fewer people.

Alison Gerber, editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press

In-your-face is right. When I saw the mugshots, I didn’t care what the story was about. All I knew was that those men have broken the law in some way, and seeing how all of them were black sent a piercing feeling of shame through my soul.

It reminded me of another newspaper that did almost the exact same thing. A drug bust was made in a town 30 minutes away. On the front page was a collection of mugshots. A lot of them. And all of the men were black.

My collective shame came in full force. It was so bad I didn’t feel like doing anything that week. And that same shame is reverberating within my heart as I type this.

Gerber continues:

Some of the people who complained didn’t read the story, which was balanced and actually asked why the ‘worst of the worst’ were only black. . . .

They had every right to ask. Black folks know that if there’s a picture of a black person on the front page, that person almost definitely did something wrong, something in general is wrong or a crime was committed and(or) an arrest was made. The story no longer matters as much as seeing all those black criminals. We know it was something bad. After all, as in the case of the 32 men, all of the pictures were mugshots. The community takes one look at the front page and will – once again – know that niggers have been acting up again, and that the black community will have it harder than before, which ironically will end up causing more crime in the first damn place:

The newspaper didn’t arrest or indict the men. We didn’t label them the city’s worst criminals. We did, after much discussion, make the decision to publish their photos.

Even if we had not done so, that would not change the fact that 32 black men were arrested and branded the worst of the worst. It still happened, even if we didn’t run the photos. But when no one had to see those 32 faces all in one place, it was easier to ignore the fact that the suspects were all men and were all black. It might make the round-up more palatable, but it wouldn’t change the facts.

So even though the paper caught some heat for running the mugshots, I believe it was the right thing to do.

Of course, the newspaper didn’t indict the men. But it still condemned a whole community, and Gerber’s comment shows she’s unaware or uncaring what confirmation bias is or what it does to a particular group of people.

Yes, 32 black men were arrested. I’m sure no black folks in Chattanooga are dismissing that. I can also imagine that not all members of the community have denied the charges of these men. Black folks know when crime and violence are subjects that need attention to, and black folks largely tend to it the best they can.

However, nominating them the “worst of the worst” and intimate to not observe that it has a racial undertone is no excuse. The mugshots alone confirm racist beliefs to some of the paper’s costumers, some of them are politicians, police and regular folks. The Chattanooga black community will be affected somehow, someway, and I doubt it will be peaceful or for justice let alone benefit them. Does it still seem like the right thing to do?

White folk’s definition of crime is usually wrapped in physical violence. And white people associate violent crime with black people. White people can be as violent as all hell. No one would link violence (or crime) to white people. We all know what they would call you if you did.


5 thoughts on “32 Mugshots & Knockout Games

  1. They have been “playing” this knock out game since the days when I was running the streets of DC. I never though is funny nor did I partake in such foolishness. It’s all fun and games until somebody dies which is highly likely when you sucker punch someone.

    As for the crackers and their fuckery; well it’s what they do, now they just have cowards in blue doing it so no one can question the motive.

  2. that is a great link about the history of la gangs I didn’t know all of that its crazy how the gangs went from protecting their communities to fighting each other and destroying their communities. The crazy thing is before tupac was killed he was trying to get the black gangs to sign a compromise and not destroy their neighborhoods or sell drugs to their people.

    As for the newspaper, wow really the worst of the worst for drugs and gun crimes, when I think of the worst of the worst I think of people that have killed children, kidnapped someone, school shooters, serial killers, etc. the media tries to hype a lot of things up and minimize the important things like why is it we hardly hear about iran, fukushima, Burma,etc. The only time they talk about genocide or a disaster is if it happened years before and they want to sell something like they did with that whole kony 2012 mess had ppl thinking that shit happened just a couple days ago and not years ago.

    I know we shouldn’t feel ashamed when someone that looks like us messes up or plays to stereotypes ,but I think it is because we know that no matter how many times we tell ourselves we are different and their actions do not make me like them, we all know that their actions will be used against us in some way. we know the media will run with it and make it a collective black problem and not just that individual’s or group of individual’s problem/crime their sin becomes all of our cross to carry. some black people kill each other and it becomes omg all black ppl need to speak on this and fix it. Some black ppl choose to procreate when they are not ready and it becomes all of our issue. at the same time we don’t have to prove anything to them we shouldn’t try to prove that we are not like some of the criminals within our community, every community has criminals but a whole community should not be condemned for the crimes of some. all I want is fairness if they say don’t like for people to label them all racist or slave owners then don’t label all black and brown people as criminals, terrorists, illegal, thugs, breeders, etc.

    1. Thanks for the input.

      I remember watching an HBO special by a former gang member called “Bastards of the Party” who examined the origins of the Crips and Bloods. It was very informative.

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