Fear sells newspapers
Friday, Jun 10, 2011 - Posted by Rich Miller
* Kudos to the Tribune editorial board for this piece about all the “wilding” stories…
The test for Emanuel and his top cop is to shut down the violence — and the fear-mongering — fast.
* But, wait, wasn’t this Trib editorial yesterday part of the problem? Yep…
It feels like a variation on “wilding,” in which roving gangs assault strangers, seemingly for sport. In 1989, five young men were charged with raping a jogger in New York’s Central Park. Police said the attack was a case of wilding — though in the end the convictions were vacated.
The violence hasn’t reached that level in Chicago. It needs to be stopped before it does.
* That was a totally stupid historical analogy…
The [Central Park] convictions were vacated in 2003. Another man already jailed for other crimes confessed to the attack. DNA evidence supported his claim.
On April 19, 1989, Meili was raped and nearly beaten to death while jogging in New York’s Central Park. She suffered numerous injuries, including skull fractures and lacerations and severe blood loss. The five young men who were ultimately indicted, tried and convicted say they were coerced into a confession. At the time, police attributed the crime to marauding gangs of teens who engaged in what was termed “wilding.” Those who committed such acts became known as “wolf packs.” Once again, as in other points in American history, associations between animals and black criminality became part of the public conscience.
In 1989, Donald Trump paid $85,000 for full-page ads in four of the New York-area newspapers. Under the headline “Bring Back the Death Penalty,” Trump wrote, “They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes. They must serve as examples so that others will think long and hard before committing a crime or an act of violence.”
Members of the Central Park Five believe that Trump’s call for the death penalty — for minors in a non-capital case — only served to create a hostile media environment before the teens went to trial. A new book on the case by New York Daily News staff writer Sarah Burns, called The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding, suggests that Trump’s incendiary rhetoric was one of numerous factors which resulted in injustice for the Central Park defendants.
Some innoccent people are gonna get railroaded if we go back to those bad old days. Guaranteed. The crime wave is real and serious. But we absolutely cannot let newspapers dictate the climate.