The story of the Matthew Owens beating has been making news. Owens is an unemployed mechanic in Mobile, Alabama who was beaten by what was originally reported as a mob of 15-20 black people, following an incident with some allegedly problematic neighborhood children. Alabama.com reported that the MPD and Mayor Sam Jones didn’t want to call this a hate crime until they determined if the incident was tied to Owens’ troubled history. They also said they don’t want people stirring the race pot, because they don‘t want a Trayvon Martin type circus. Wanna guess who didn’t listen?
Fox not only deliberately sensationalized the racial angle, it used the Trayvon Martin case as its tool for doing so. Foxnews.com opened up its article by saying:
A racially charged beating of a white Alabama man by a throng of African-Americans is not being investigated as a hate crime, despite one witness’ claim that she heard an assailant exclaim: “Now that’s justice for Trayvon.”
Classy… So let’s go down a little bit to find:
Asked if the incident was being investigated as a hate crime, (Ashley Rains, public information officer for the Mobile Police Department) replied: “No, it’s not. It’s being investigated as an assault.” Eugene A. Seidel, first assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, declined to comment on the case when reached by FoxNews.com.
“Our policy is not to comment one way or another about cases,” Seidel said when asked if his office has inquired about the incident. “All I can say is no comment.”
Wait – the police don’t believe the assault was racially motivated, but Fox suggested otherwise? Do other spokesmen think that? Statements from the other officers, documented on the Alabma.com site read:
“According to him, he didn’t know why he was assaulted,” Police Chief Micheal Williams said. “We think that something else might be going on here.”
Cpl. Christopher Levy, a spokesman for the Police Department, said the Trayvon Martin case definitely was not the motivating factor.
Meanwhile, Mayor Sam Jones cautioned the public not to jump to conclusions and to wait until the investigation had revealed the facts. He said he would not condone assault regardless of the motive.
“If people think we are going to tolerate that to bring attention to some national event, they are sorely mistaken,” he said. “They will be arrested and prosecuted for assault or whatever the appropriate charge may be.”
Including Rains (remember that Seidel didn‘t comment), that’s three police officials who think race was not the motive plus a mayor who has urged the public not to jump to conclusions. So why did Fox decide to go down the racial road anyway? Are they really willing to risk what could erupt for the sake of having their own counter-Trayvon?
As it turns out, evidence now shows race was not the precipitating factor. Although the Mobile County District Attorney has asked the federal government to determine if a hate crime occurred, reporting by WKRG.com strongly suggests otherwise:
Despite witnesses telling News 5 that one of the attackers said “This is justice for Trayvon” after the beating, police say the shooting of the unarmed teenager in Samford, Florida was not the reason for this attack.
”I can tell you this without a doubt, 100% certainty, that Trayvon Martin was not the motivating factor in this incident,” says Cpl. Chris Levy.
Deputy Chief Lester Hargrove says investigators believe only four people, including Terry Rawls, were directly involved. They believe the rest of the mob just watched.
Police say the beating is the result of a three year neighborhood dispute between Rawls and Owens.