It was only a matter of days before police shooting victim Jacob Blake, shot seven times on Sunday night, would be criminalized by mainstream media. So the New York Post's midweek headline saying Blake had a knife in his car was perfectly in tandem with the media's criminalization of Black victims.
Amid a nation in peril, Blake's shooting wasn't the only devastation we'd see this week. Just three days after Blake's shooting, a white teen, Kyle Rittenhouse, fatally shot two people protesting Blake's killing and injured another as Blavity previously reported. This offered no greater time for outlets like The Post to showcase their flare for racial bias.
Rittenhouse is a Trump supporter who showed up to a Tuesday night Wisconsin protest over the shooting of Blake, a Black 29-year-old father.
When Trump glorifies one, we inevitably get the other.
If you don’t see how uplifting the McCloskeys emboldens people like Kyle Rittenhouse then you’re not paying attention. pic.twitter.com/lwpPRPYjAo
— Sen. Mike Gianaris (@SenGianaris) August 26, 2020
He said he'd shown up to the demonstration to "protect" businesses and wildly enough, people. After shooting three protesters, he ran down the street, passing police officers, exclaiming what he'd done.
This is Jacob Blake. His fiancé shared these photos with us. He’s 29 and a father of three. His fiancé says he is a security guard. pic.twitter.com/IxaK9DUaYc
— Stephanie Haines (@TMJ4Stephanie) August 24, 2020
Within hours of each other, the Post ran two stories on Wednesday evening: one alleging Blake, a victim, had a knife in his car when he was shot in the back by police and the other showcasing Rittenhouse, a perpetrator, cleaning up graffiti before killing people. Screenshots of the stories intended to illustrate the clear bias went viral on Twitter.
So we’re all clear what’s going on here, yea? pic.twitter.com/6khlkOhsny
— Mrs. McG (@mrsmcglover) August 27, 2020
To make matters worse, The Post isn't the only outlet where a seemingly empathetic stance of the teen's killings was taken. Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said protesters at the Tuesday demonstration were at fault.
“It is the persons who were involved after the legal time, involved in illegal activity, that brought violence to this community,” Miskinis said during a Wednesday press conference according to CNN.
He then went on to say there was a "disturbance," one which he did not specify, which caused Rittenhouse to shoot.
Over on Fox News, host Tucker Carlson framed the teen as a hero as CBS News reports.
"How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?" the conservative reporter said on Wednesday night, leading to calls for his unlikely termination.
Among the most egregious instances of criminalization of Black victims was the notoriously tasteless 2014 New York Times' 2014 editorial which audaciously asserted that police shooting victim, Mike Brown, was "no angel."
But we needn't look so far back to find justifications for the killings of unarmed Black men.
After video circulated of the barbaric killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, who was senselessly chased down by a white vigilante father-son duo, outlets began releasing video of Arbery entering a property under construction. Reports surrounding this video suggested he'd been engaging in criminal activity.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is also representing the Blake family, summarized the intent behind such publications perfectly:
But one place we haven't been as often is in a circumstance where the victim is still alive to defend himself. While Blake is still recuperating from the tragedy, his ability to speak on his own behalf unlike the aforementioned victims might be exactly what biased media needs.