Armed robbers apprehended at the U of C after a chase and a crash; school paper publishes photo of one suspect; students use the incident to criticize our armed cops

We had a bit of excitement here on Monday when, sitting at my desk, I got three successive email alerts from the campus authorities that there were criminal suspects loose on campus. The final one was that they were apprehended. But the first ones, like this, were a bit scary:

Shelter in place! That sounds ominious. Eventually we got the all clear, and it turned out that, according to the Chicago Maroon, there was a crime, a crash, and a chase (click on screenshot):

Summary from the paper (it was an armed robbery):

At around 11:48 a.m., a stolen black Dodge Charger believed to have been involved in the robbery of a GameStop ran a red light on the intersection of Midway Plaisance and South Woodlawn Avenue, supposedly while chased by police. In the process, it ran into two additional cars, damaging both significantly. The driver of one of the vehicles escaped without injury but the status of the other driver is unknown.

The suspects fled their Dodge Charger, and police pursued. One of the suspects was arrested immediately after the crash, according to an e-mail sent by the University after the events at around 4:25 p.m. Around 30 police officers cornered multiple suspects in the Saieh Hall of Economics, though it is unclear whether all the remaining suspects fled inside the building.

The suspects in Saieh were later apprehended at around 12:40 p.m. Police on scene said no one was hurt inside Saieh and there was no substantial property damage.

There were five suspects, all apprehended by the University of Chicago police without a shot being fired (our campus cops are armed, which the students generally object to).

Kudos for the cops for a prompt and nonviolent response, and to the University for keeping us informed (I’m generally in my office behind a locked outer door, so I wasn’t too scared).

Isn’t this over until the trial, then? Well, no, as there’s community outrage on two counts. If you read the Maroon article above, you’ll see a picture of a UC police officer walking one of the handcuffed suspects out of the economics building. I don’t know his age, but he may be underaged (I didn’t show the photo, but it’s right below the headline above). That has caused a fight to erupt in the comments, with a lot of people demanding that the photo be taken down because the accused robber is too young to show.  There are 131 comments—unheard of for this newspaper.

The pictured suspect is also black, which I suppose is one reason why people want the photo down. I didn’t think of that at first, but there’s a petition to the paper to remove the photo that explicitly mentions how the photo could reflect poorly on African-Americans (click on screenshot):

678 people have signed the petition, which includes this language:

As many University of Chicago students, faculty, staff, and residents of Hyde Park have pointed out, the publication of such a photo can cause incredible harm to the accused individual and their loved ones. It has the potential to infringe upon their right to a fair and unbiased criminal-legal process and negates the presumption of innocence.

It also cannot go unmentioned that the young man in the photograph is Black and the publication of this image perpetuates the Myth of Black Criminality and the racist, distorted view of Black youth as less innocent, more adult-like and dangerous than their White peers. Furthermore, if the young man in the photograph is under 18, their records of arrest and court processes are automatically sealed. Illinois law recognizes that children grow and change, and as a result, provides special protections to prevent collateral consequences from youthful arrests. This photo undermines those protections.

We demand that the photo of this young man be taken down immediately.

Now I’m not sure what rules, if any, obtain in journalism about publishing the photo of underage accused perps. The accused in the photo looks about 16 or 17 to me.  I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other, but if that’s old enough so that mainstream newspapers would have published such a photo, so be it. The Maroon editors obviously aren’t bowing to public pressure, as they haven’t removed the photo. I’m not sure whether it’s illegal or unethical to publish pictures of the accused even if they are under 18 and have their records sealed.

What bothers me more is that because the suspect is black, to many that’s even more of a reason to take down the photo since it would “perpetuate the Myth of Black Criminality” and so on. If it’s unethical to publish a picture of someone under 18—and, as I said, I’m not sure it is—then it doesn’t matter what race the person is. Publish or don’t, but don’t put ethnicity into the equation.

The other consequence, reported by the right-wing site The College Fix, is that students began going after the campus police on Twitter. They have blocked their Twitter accounts, so the tweets aren’t shown, but the CF reproduces some of them:

. . . a flurry of tweets arose among students who condemned the university for not providing alerts in a timely fashion and the actions of several professors who attempted to meet for class despite the shelter in place code.

“You shouldn’t have a midterm right after a lockdown,” one student tweeted. [JAC: Midterms were, I believe, scheduled the day of the incident]

Criticism was also leveled at the Maroon, for not only advising students that it was “safe to go outside” while the police was still searching for the last suspect, but also for plastering his photo on their front page, despite clearly appearing to be a minor.

petition has been launched demanding the paper’s editors take the photo down.

What’s more, even though no students were harmed and the suspects were arrested without a single shot being fired, some students began calling for the abolition of police.

“there were militarized cops (literally carrying assault rifles) crawling all over campus looking for armed, african-american men. a black student could’ve worn a striped shirt (like one of the robbers)… reached for a phone at the wrong time… etc. and could have been shot,” one student tweeted. “Anywho … disarm/abolish the police.:

“UCPD is absolutely worthless thank you for coming to my ted talk,” tweeted another student.

A third offered this on social media: “dear god we’re gonna have to listen to c*llege r*publicans talk about how this proves we need more cops.”

This reporter reached out to several of the commenters regarding what kind of solution they would support instead of the police, but only received the following answer from one student: “We should arm the working class, disarm the pigs.”

These are students, not thugs. Arm the working class? And I wonder whether they would have been in favor of unarmed police if the suspects had started shooting, or had taken hostages.

Thank Ceiling Cat none of that happened.  I don’t expect anybody here will align with the reaction of condemning the cops, but do weigh in on the photo, especially if you have expertise about these matters.

43 Comments

  1. A C Harper
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Should we re-embroider some more varied skin tones on the Bayeux Tapestry to stop the perpetuation of the Myth of White Warrior Elitism?

  2. Posted February 13, 2019 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I see a young man who might be scared and probably did not mean to harm anyone.

    A racists will see something completely different, like a gestalt diagram.

    The only circumstance that seems justified removing a photo should be serial killers or terrorists. Apparently their publicity can motivate the next psychopath.

    • Posted February 13, 2019 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      I see a perp.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 13, 2019 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      The photo doesn’t confirm any tropes for me either – racist or otherwise. However, with my warped sense of humour it did make me laugh because of his jeans. I’ve got a pair of jeans that’s loose around the waist like that (because of weight loss – not because I’m trying to be cool!) and I have to hitch them up constantly or they would fall around my ankles. I couldn’t help thinking, “No wonder he was caught – how could he run in those jeans?”

      • BJ
        Posted February 13, 2019 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

        “No wonder he was caught – how could he run in those jeans?”

        This made me chuckle out loud! Criminals really need to think more carefully about their choice in clothing. Who knows how many might have successfully escaped punishment if only they had worn appropriate attire for the job.

        I guess “dress for the job you want, not the one you have” doesn’t always apply…

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted February 14, 2019 at 1:33 am | Permalink

        There was that momentarily famous song from American Idol.
        “Pants On The Ground”

  3. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I can’t help noticing that the cop escorting the arrested alleged robber is a ‘POC’ too.
    You can’t win, this was an excellent operation by the cops, no use of fire arms, nobody hurt, threat averted, all suspects arrested. I mean, what more do you want? Isn’t it a perfect 10?

    • XCellKen
      Posted February 13, 2019 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      The cop has Internalized Racism ™ s/

    • Harrison
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 7:05 am | Permalink

      The cops forgot to polish the brass moustache.

  4. Kelcey BURMAN
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Re the photo what about ‘perpetuating the myth’ that black men can be in the police force too?

  5. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    The police are armed on my campus as well and have all the authority of regular cops. No one, to my knowledge, seems offended by this. Universities are like small towns and as their population increases, it’s necessary to put in place the same things, like armed police, that regular towns have.

  6. ploubere
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Most newspapers have a policy to not identify juvenile offenders, which I think is reasonable. If the suspects are charged as adults, then they can be identified.

    As for students complaining about armed police, that’s just juvenile and naive, and treating black suspects with more deference than others is paternalistic.

  7. John Conoboy
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    My recollection from many years ago is that newspapers did not publish photos of underage crime suspects, nor did they publish their names. I think that is a good policy that protects children while the courts and other agencies deal with them.

    I also don’t recall that underage suspects were ever tried as adults, but that seems to be the new norm.

  8. Ray Little
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    I love the comment ‘arm the working class.’ Do they think cops go to Groton and Harvard? Google ‘Doug Ford’ and ‘Marxist’ to see a good example of the Conservative Powers-that-be using the blathering of ‘woke’ students against the students themselves.

    • Taz
      Posted February 13, 2019 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Whoever left that comment must be a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment.

      • Posted February 14, 2019 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        He apparently wants someone to fund the arming.

  9. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    How about thanks to the police / security folks for catching all the criminals. If you take pictures they get published. How do you know the age and what the hell difference does the race or color make. Maybe the fact that you are worried about it being a photo of a African American says something about you.

    In our local town paper they would put your name in the paper if you got picked up for DUI or any traffic incident. Made no difference your age.

  10. Dave
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    “We should arm the working class, disarm the pigs.”

    “Working Class”? “Pigs”? What a delightfully retro choice of language! Did this student just emerge from a time tunnel that opened in 1968? I’ll give him or her credit for at least being aware that there is such a thing as the Working Class – it’s one category that’s usually missing from the grievance-monger’s intersectional alphabet soup of oppression.

    However, I also suspect that this student has probably never met any actual members of the Working Class, if he/she thinks that they’d have any sympathy with the Toytown revolutionaries that seem to infest the modern campus.

    • Taz
      Posted February 13, 2019 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      I’m wondering if the comment was meant to be parody.

  11. Historian
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    “We should arm the working class, disarm the pigs.”

    The student who wrote this must think it is 1968, probably a year he or she has read about with great fondness. It would be worthwhile for him or her to recognize that with lax gun laws any member of the working class can be so armed if it so chosen. The revolution that many of my acquaintances dreamed about in 1968 did not happen. Indeed, quite the reverse took place and little has changed in a half of century. The student is living in a dream world.

    • another fred
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      Down here in the deep south, the working class are without a doubt the most well-armed group.

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Most jurisdictions, I believe, prohibit the public disclosure of records identifying juvenile defendants and offenders. I believe many news organizations also have their own internal policies prohibiting the disclosure of the names (and other identifying information, such as photographs) of juvenile defendants. But any law that prohibited a news outlet from publishing information it had obtained, including information regarding a juvenile defendant, would, I think, run afoul of the “prior restraints” doctrine of the First Amendment.

    • Posted February 14, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      For what it is worth, one jurisdiction is Canada. We have the “Young Offenders Act” – illegal to publish identifying details of criminals or accused under the age of majority (18).

  13. Posted February 13, 2019 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how many of those objecting to the publication of that photo of a youth suspect also objected to the publication of the photo of the 16-yr-old Covington School kid.

    • Posted February 13, 2019 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      First rule of the Regressive Left:
      It’s Okay When We Do It™

  14. Michael Fisher
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    On Monday ABC7 Chicago News blurred the head of an arrested suspect in the Gamestop armed robbery – see the video in the above link. I don’t think they have to by law, but news networks are painfully aware of the costs of invading the privacy of juveniles & of class action suits such as the below extreme example. It makes sense to be cautious until more information is available.

    SOURCE

    “Why Do They Blur Faces on TV? To Avoid Lawsuits Like This One

    Diners at a Chicago hot dog restaurant are upset but not about their food. The Travel Channel allegedly filmed them inside Wiener’s Circle restaurant without their permission, and now the Travel Channel is facing a class action lawsuit with potential damages over $1 billion dollars.

    According to a report at hollywoodreporter.com, the Travel Channel filmed a segment of its Extreme Fast Food show but failed to obtain the plaintiffs’ consent to broadcast their likenesses. The plaintiffs allege a violation of the Illinois Right of Publicity Act. According to the complaint, the plaintiffs want actual damages or $1,000 per violation.

    If you are wondering how the claim can add up to $1 billion dollars, it is because Extreme Fast Food aired about 20 times in millions of households. The reason why you usually see peoples’ faces blurred out in public on television is so networks avoid lawsuits like this one. Normally, a producer or director will have consent forms on hand for people to sign waiving their right to sue if their image appears on television.

    A little advanced planning by the network or blurring in post-production may have avoided this lawsuit. In addition to suing the network, the class action suit also names Sharp Entertainment as a defendant.

    Colson Hicks Eidson – Florida lawyers”

    Not Ken Kukeck 🙂

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 13, 2019 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, no way. Plaintiffs’ class-action lawyers — those guys bank the big bucks. 🙂

  15. Michael Fisher
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Birmingham, UK. Victim sheep blurring:

    MORE INFO

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 15, 2019 at 12:34 am | Permalink

      Nice to see one policeman has a sense of humour.

      cr

  16. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    With all the cameras going up everywhere and body cameras on nearly all the police, better get use to pictures of everyone doing crime. It does not make much sense to want all the police wearing cameras and then crying about getting your picture taken. If the 7/11 gets robbed by a couple of guys with guns and they beat hell out of the clerk or shoot him, what does the age matter. If they are 16 or 25, chances are they are going through the system as adults. Putting those photos out on crime watch is often how they catch them. Are we to say – it’s okay to catch the guy who is over 18 but not if he is 16 or 17.

  17. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    What bothers me more is that because the suspect is black, to many that’s even more of a reason to take down the photo since it would “perpetuate the Myth of Black Criminality” and so on. If it’s unethical to publish a picture of someone under 18—and, as I said, I’m not sure it is—then it doesn’t matter what race the person is. Publish or don’t, but don’t put ethnicity into the equation.

    Agree with you 100%, Jerry. But let’s not forget that there’s a long tradition of yellow journalism in this country where fears of the “dark menace” were used to spike newspaper sales. Hell, where I grew up, there was one reactionary rag that, while it didn’t always publish the pictures of adult criminal suspects in its crime stories, was nonetheless notorious for doing so when the suspect was black.

  18. Posted February 13, 2019 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I do not see anything wrong with publishing the pho, particularly in no name was included in the article.

    I do think the press should stop referring to the race of the individuals. Of any individuals. That does not convey any significant information and only divides people info categories that do not exist.

  19. Posted February 13, 2019 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Two thoughts:

    1) He might have been able to run fast enough to escape, had his pants not been hanging halfway down;

    2) Maybe they could employ ‘restorative justice’ where he returns the stolen goods, pays for the auto repairs and medical bills, and offers a sincere promise to never be naughty again?

  20. Posted February 13, 2019 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    … the publication of this image perpetuates the Myth of Black Criminality and the racist, distorted view of Black youth as less innocent, more adult-like and dangerous than their White peers.

    Blacks commit 54% of all robberies, despite being 13% of the population. Blacks under 25 are about 9x more likely to commit violent crimes than average. That is the truth, not a myth.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Correct, but the thing is to find out why.
      Does this remain true if corrected, say, of socio-economic class? Blacks are also overrepresented in the ‘lower’ classes.

      • Posted February 14, 2019 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        Lower SE blacks still commit crimes at a much higher rate than other lower SE groups.

  21. Christopher
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    First I must say that I am less in favor of publishing ANY suspect photos or video until following a conviction than I was in the past. But of course that goes for everyone, even older white men, who are of course guilty even when proven innocent according to current SJW laws. I think it’s better overall for the innocent until proven guilty aspect of our laws, for everyone involved, even those of us who, myself included, are nosey and want to see whodunnit. Perhaps I’m in the minority on this one though.

    As for the kerfuffle, it sounds very much like the nonsense I heard on BBC Radio4’s The News Quiz last week, when the panel guests were kvetching about the use of crime algorithms in order to pinpoint crime hotspots and increase police presence in those areas. Well, guess what, those areas were ones with more PoC’s, which according to the show meant RACISM, because the algorithms are based on past crimes and those crimes were committed by PoC’s, so the cops are just going after the PoC’s, or so goes the SJW circular logic. What utter nonsense!

  22. Max Blancke
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    If representations of armed robbers on TV and in the movies were all young black men, that would be perpetuating a stereotype. That is certainly not the case. Showing an image of an actual suspect is not stereotyping.

    “perpetuate they myth of….” is doublespeak for “confirming what everyone knows to be true, but dare not speak about.”

    Obviously most people, of any race, sex, or age group, are law abiding people. And violent crime is generally waning.

    But the guy in the image being arrested does represent, in race, sex, and approximate age, the typical armed robber in the Chicago area.

    In Chicago, for every female arrested for robbery, 19 men were arrested. For every White person arrested, 4 Hispanics and 27 Black individuals were arrested.
    (Data from 2010, chicagopolice.org)

    I don’t have Chicago specific offender age data, but nationally, the average age of robbery offenders is 18. (FBI)

    • Christopher
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      Sad but true. And if we don’t accept the data, no matter where it leads, then we cannot begin to address the problem. It’s very frustrating that so many are willing to turn their backs on reality so that they don’t appear to side with the right or appear racist according to the SJW playbook, but how does ignoring the problem help the next generation of kids?

      • Max Blancke
        Posted February 14, 2019 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

        I really don’t like where this could potentially be heading. It is already interfering with scientific research.

        To me, truth is essentially sacred. I like to think that any belief I hold is conditional on being supported by the best understood data. I understand that as a flawed human, this is not always the case. But it is what I aspire to.

        But the philosophy that led to the outrage described in the article seems like religion to me. And those people are fanatics.

        • Larry Cook
          Posted February 17, 2019 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

          Max Blancke, this is a wonderfully simple and to the point explanation of the importance of the truth. Most of the time we start with opinion and then look for “facts” to back it up and too often pay little attention to the veracity of those “facts”.

          But what I really liked was your ironic use, intentional or not, of the word “sacred”.

  23. Posted February 14, 2019 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    I join those who would prefer the young suspect’s face to be blurred.


%d bloggers like this: