Welcome sippers and readers to Book 1 | Talk 1.
In this talk we'll be covering the intro and chapter one (pages 1 - 69) of the title They Can't Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery. So if you haven't completed reading those pages pause here and finish reading first to avoid spoiler details.
In the intro, Wesley takes us down memory lane informing us of his personal background, journalism experience and how he ended up in Ferguson, Missouri August 2014. Great imagery was worded of those times and how intense things were since the initial mention of Mike Brown's death. Wesley details his discovery of Mike Brown being a "symbol of oppression" in his own neighborhood and being "sucked into [Mike Brown's] story." In hindsight, I can't think of one person who wasn't watching this story.
As we enter chapter one titled Ferguson: A City Holds Its Breath, Wesley breaks down the chain of events of him following the shooting of Mike Brown to what erupted into Ferguson protests and riots. The Ferguson people were officially "tired of being misused and mistreated" and it was the people's outrage and anger that brought national attention to Ferguson. Wesley placed the voices of other leaders, reporters and activists in the timeline of events bringing in different coverage insight and giving credit to those who helped spearhead a movement.
We learn that Mike Brown's death isn't a one-off incident to the people of Ferguson. Wesley reveals the countless injustices of discrimination in the community and surrounding area. Black people were being targeted and sometimes killed by police officers and justice was consistently swept under the rug to never be found. Law officials made no sense of urgency to hold officers accountable for their mistreatment and local outlets went as far to defame those dead.
Well that last statement is a murky one...
Under the English Law, the dead cannot be defamed. It is said that once you are dead you no longer have a reputation in legal terms. This unfortunately can allow police departments and the media to depict a certain type of character that a deceased person may or may not have had.
There have been many times the media has painted a very ugly picture of a victim that may not have been an accurate self portrait. But on the contrary, as Wesley mentioned in the chapter, journalists portrait the deceased to bring their character to light so we can essentially understand what happened the day of their death. And although that may be true the media doesn't always get it right.
"But how else would we form an opinion on the case..? Facts?"
Wesley continued to mention in the chapter that when Stephon Averyhart was killed by police in St. Louis just months before Mike Brown, local television stations described him as a felon when in reality he had no criminal record. Articles at the time also stated that right before police fired, Averyhart pointed a gun toward them. This was too untrue and confirmed so by the St. Louis police sergeant. The media placed false justification for his death essentially greenlighting for it to happen again... and it did. But under English Law the media was able to easily escape the accountability of tarnishing Averyhart's slain name. And the record has yet to be corrected.
Which leads into the questions of Talk 1...
What are some notable cases that you can remember where the media depicted false disposition of a deceased or living person?
Do you think it's morally right for the media to analyze and litigate a deceased person's character?
And what in particular are you liking and/or disliking about the writing in this book? (Structure, tone, style, etc)
Share your answers and opinions below! And don't forget to head over to the hashtag #TWTBC on Twitter to join the talk.