As we now know, the aftermath of the TyRon Lewis wrongful death case did not result in full-fledged rioting. The community breathed a collective sigh of relief as fears had been flamed that there might be a reprise of 1996’s burning and looting spree. Calmer heads ultimately prevailed over the revolutionary rhetoric of the Uhurus and their H. Rap Brownshirts.
No thanks to the St. Petersburg Times , however.
This is how the Times heralded the news that a jury had rejected a call for more than $1.6 million in compensation for Lewis’ family. The 4-column, front-page, above-the-fold headline declared: “Jury Finds City Owes Lewis Family Nothing.” Directly below was a 4-column, close-up, color photo of infuriated family members.
At a time when no one knew if violence — actually an extension of a previous night’s limited looting — would break out once a verdict had been rendered, the Times chose language and a juxtaposed photo that was at least fuel for the Uhuru firebrands. (Having provided an ongoing bully pulpit for the anarchist rantings of Omali Yeshitela wasn’t contribution enough.)
It was tantamount to saying “Mostly White Jury Agrees That Family Of Black Teen Killed By Trigger-Happy White Cop Deserve Nothing For Their Heartbreak.”
The Times loves to tout its role as a responsible, involved corporate citizen as well as its reputation for award-winning, independent journalism.