Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NoMi Tornado and Irresponsible Journalism

Post and stock photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

The tornado and the aftermath were tough enough on NoMi, but once again we weren't helped out by at least one media entity.  Fox 9 initially reported gunshots and looting in North Minneapolis in conjunction with the tornado.  (Warning:  do not read the comment section of that article unless you are standing next to someone you can punch without legal repercussions.)  I'm not sure what came first, the mainstream media or the tweet, but Twitter was full of misinformation and racist comments.  Most likely Twitter was breaking the "news" of the looting that wasn't before Fox picked it up.

Shortly after the storm, I was getting text messages and phone calls from people, some of which reported looting all along Broadway.  So when I went to try and help out a friend, I intentionally took a route that went along Broadway for as long as possible.  From 94 to James, you'd hardly know a tornado hit, and there were certainly no signs of looting either taking place or having had taken place.  Nobody could get anywhere near Penn and Broadway, the site of the ONLY confirmed looting incident.  But the barricades could have been for any number of reasons.

If the rumor mill was to be believed though, Broadway and north Minneapolis in general had descended into chaos.  On the ground, this was clearly not the case.  I understand the pull to break news before anyone else, whether it's via blogging, Facebook, Twitter, or any other medium.  I mean, in a world where Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson can break the news of bin Laden's death, who's to say that you or I can't stumble upon the next huge story through social media?

Here's the problem with being too hasty...

...As a result, people worldwide believe or believed that we were experiencing widespread looting.  With virtually no hard evidence available, Kevin Hoffman at the City Pages tweeted the following: "Starting to fear that, like Katrina, the chaos after the storm may be more destructive."

And then what happens?  Tweet after tweet "reports" looting and gunshots in north Minneapolis in conjunction with the storm.  A lazy enough reporter doesn't even have to to much fact checking, as long as he or she lays out the qualifier of "reported" looting, gunshots" in conjunction with the storm.  After all, now that it's been reported, phrasing the allegations that way makes it technically true.  Before you know it, Twitterers (or Twits) as far away as Egypt or France are parroting the looting angle.

At the risk of perpetrating the notion that this neighborhood is like a prequel to "The Road Warrior," only less structured, piling on news of gunshots in conjunction with the storm only makes it worse.  According to weekly compilations of shot spotter data, gunshots are somewhat common here.  (I'd like to see that data for the week of the tornado and compare it to other times as well.)  Also keep in mind that the shot spotters cover only a small portion of the city.  Don't look at those maps and think those are the ONLY areas where shots were fired.  


Thankfully both Twitter and Fox 9 have dialed down the rhetoric at least a little, with Fox going so far as to emphasize that the looting was an isolated incident.  But the damage was already done.  The city-imposed curfew and "exclusion zone" were set up not to impose a quasi-martial law on northsiders, but to keep scavengers from outside of the community from slipping in and causing harm to our community and residents.


In this day and age, wit the technology we have available, legend becomes reality faster than ever before.  What do YOU want the legend of our community's response to the tornado to be?

18 comments:

  1. I live about 4 blocks from the liquor store in question. The tornado broke the windows, and some bad boys helped themselves until the police chased them off.

    Is the media going to write about the aid center that local citizens have set up across the street from there, to hand out clothes, toiletries, first aid and snacks for neighbors in need? Or doesn't that fit into their agenda?

    Dog whistle politics, anyone?

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  2. All the reports are not it, but several people reported that while they went to get supplies to secure their homes, they were burglarized. While they might be isolated incidents, one has to ask: What kind of asshole victimizes victims?
    The windows get blown out of a liquor store and the first thing that comes to someones mind is "go in and steal the good stuff", because that the way we do things here (paraphrasing an article I read).
    The point is, that these events did happen, and they happened in North Minneapolis. All all your sugar coating and media blaming can't change that.
    No other community, that has experienced a tornado disaster, reported looting and needed a curfew declaration.
    Do you think the Mayor's response would have been the same if the tornado struck Lake Nokomis? or East Harriet? Doubtful. That's because North Minneapolis has a higher "asshole" ratio than the rest of the city.
    Face it, NoMi has a reputation, and city government, the media, and everyone, including the nation, is well aware of it.

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  3. I find it funny that you and those on e-democracy cry fowl and say there are no looting problems. Yet on the same day the 4th precint emails everyone saying watch out for "looters" kicking in doors of homes. I think though doth protest to much.

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  4. Right after the tornado, a neighbor of mine at 36th and Emerson went to check on another neighbor's dog, and there was a man in the middle of Emerson shooting a gun down the street. The truth is good people will do good in situations like this, and bad people will do bad. The bad people outweigh the good in the Northside... that's just how it is, so OF COURSE the news is going to report that. It's the truth.

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  5. Channel 5 had a story on the looting, they showed at least three NOMI businesses who were looted. Where there is smoke there is fire.

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  6. When the dust settles, I do plan on going back and digging around a bit on what news entities reported what stories. Make no mistake, looting is unfortunately a newsworthy event. I don't begrudge media entities for reporting on what happens in NoMi.

    However, by all reports we have had thousands of volunteers come to our community over the past few days, and that number will skyrocket as time goes on. But if our local media chooses to ignore what is measurably the predominant story (a community coming together during a crisis) and instead focuses on the negative and sensational, then that deserves to be called out for what it is.

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  7. I would like to tear into a couple of these anonameasses and their comments..and them as individuals. All of you pathetic,pandering, and unprincipled punks need to shut up and HELP. Time is up..gotta go help dig some more friends and strangers out. I'm seething.

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  8. I spent the day cutting and hauling trees w/ a group of 15 to 20 people. It was hard work. I'm covered in scratches and bruises. It was also satisfying work. There is nothing like teaming up to move a massive Elm that has fallen on someone's house. This whole event has saddened me tremendously because of the effects I fear it will have on the Northside as a whole. But, it is what it is, and we have to do what needs to be done (recover). I've been disappointed, at times, as I traverse the storm damaged areas to see many people simply sitting around and watching things happen, often with a bottle in their hands. I've also been disappointed to read about all of the outraged storm victims who are waiting and waiting for someone to come and rescue them. Someone said it best the other day: "God helps those who help themselves."

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  9. Here's more "Irresponsible Journalism" however this time it's direct from the MPD.

    There were two arrests of individuals during the operational period for
    burglary. One was stealing an aluminum garage door and fencing from a damaged
    home. The other was attempting to burglarize a vacant home. In addition, 3
    juvenile males were arrested this morning (5/26/11) after burglarizing a
    clothing store on the 3700 block of Penn Avenue North and stealing clothing.

    There was one shooting at approximately 1600 hours at 44th and Logan. This
    appears to be related to an ongoing gang feud and was not in the storm-damaged
    area.

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  10. In my opinion, Hawkman, your ignorance is exceeded only by your arrogance. You are misplaced not only in your profession, but in your neighborhood.

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  11. Shameless crooks still smartin' off at high noon. I hereby, through telepathy, doom you to an uncanny string of horrendous misfortune.

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  12. Looks like more irresponsible reporting in today's Startrib
    http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/122807824.html

    After the tornado, thieves strike

    Article by: ANTHONY LONETREE , Star Tribune
    Updated: May 29, 2011 - 11:11 PM

    Burglary reports have doubled in north Minneapolis since the storm. Police say it's doubtful that all are crimes of opportunity.

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  13. I was helping my neighbor on 28th and Oliver on Wednesday. I left my ladder and sawsall in back for 5 minutes to help move a big tree out front. When I went back to go up on the roof, both my ladder and sawsall were gone. It left a big hole my compassion!

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  14. 28th and Oliver? Is that near Broadway and Colfax?

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  15. My neighbors and I (those with permits) "open holstered" all week. The cops didn't bat an eye, but those thugs sure didn't come near our operations!

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  16. First, to NoMi Passenger... Huh? What? i missed something, i think. To Folwell Fox; You da' man and us veterans will stick together and outlast all of the crusty crumbs who perpetrate their inane and idiotic philisophically based bullshit upon the naive keepers of our shared trust. Trust them not,for they are all conceived from diseased gashes that yearn to breathe anything that does not smell like the stank boody that claims the same anatomical address and it happens to be next door in the form of contaminated ca-ca. The sweet cream rises to the top, but so do other elements that need to be occasionally scraped off and disposed of in the proper manner. There is a plentiful supply of intellectual rubbish coming from certain elements that want to paint this disaster in terms of the variable shades of the pigmentation roulette wheel. This will not happen because the same dubious clowns are just rollin' out their age-old fucking games and trying to suck the funds out of the recovery basket. The perfect scenario is that they are shot on site due to the fact that their bullshit will be responsible for others that are legitimately trying to get help,not get it. Of course, they will not be shot on site so we can only hope that they are sought out and treated appropriately if they aren't getting the message that former Marines and Soldiers wiil do what they have to do if you present us with no other alternatives. We live here because, once again, a mono-cultural society where people live and thrive together is what we want; a neighborhood that combines people of EVERY ethnic backround is what we want; this area does NOT belong specifically to any certain race or creed; WE will prevail and the dregs will continue to reside in the cesspools of their own pitiful puke holes. Good Day.

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  17. Way to keep on top of these anonameasses boathead. You're balancing morals, virtues, humanism, and egos quite well in your writings. You once said that you were giving up the "rhyming bull-shit"... don't. It makes your point more poignant!

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  18. Here's some more irresponsible reporting, this time from E-Democracy.

    I finally got around to reporting my line down today, and a Qwest guy came and
    strung up my line this evening.. However, he said that a lot of the main
    cables are still down. Oh, and when he drove up to the corner to check
    something at the pole, he witnessed a stabbing. I told him I'5 lived here 6
    years and never seen anything like that, and he said this was his second day in
    working in this neighborhood.

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