Knock at the door: Protesters accuse C-Ville Weekly of “inflaming racial tensions”

Protesters held up a banner referring to an editorial comment made by Cville Weekly editor Giles Morris.
Protesters held up a banner referring to an editorial comment made by Cville Weekly editor Giles Morris.

A crowd of protesters gathered in front of the offices of Cville Weekly today, outraged by a December 29 story the local paper ran that, according to one protest organizer, “threw gasoline on the fire of racial tension in our community.”

Indeed, the story, titled, “Knockout: Victims of brutal Downtown Mall assault want arrests, and answers from police,” told the dramatic and frightening story of a couple, Marc Adams and Jeanne Doucette, who claimed they were randomly targeted during a “late night stroll” on the DTM and brutally beaten by three black males in what they characterized as a “knock out game” style attack carried out for nothing more than vicious sport and fun. The story, after the Drudge Report linked to it, quickly went viral, prompting comments so hateful and racially charged that Cville Weekly had to shut down their comment section. Indeed, the story for many readers, commentors and bloggers across the country was evidence of a frightening kind of “black mob violence” in Charlottesville.

There’s just one problem. It didn’t happen that way.

As a police investigation revealed, there was no random “knock out” style attack by three black males, but rather a “verbal altercation” that escalated into a “physically confrontation” between the couple and “two” black males. Police also reported that Adams, who originally claimed to have been beaten unconscious, suffered “a loose tooth and some soft tissue damage.” What’s more, in a DTM interview with the two men who were charged with simple assault and released, it was revealed that they were both college educated, had no history of criminal violence, and were members of the gay community. According to the two men, who believe they have been unjustly charged, it was actually the couple (who they described as being “plastered” drunk), who were the aggressors. Both men recently filed assault charges against the couple. The two men also claimed that a third black male, who was not a part of their group, intervened during the altercation and struck Adams.

At the protest in front of the Cville Weekly offices, one of those men, Malcolm Stevenson, a UVA grad and a former manager at Eppie’s Restaurant on the DTM, recalled his dismay at how he was portrayed in the original Cville Weekly story.

“When the [Cville Weekly] story came out,” he told the largely African-American crowd, “I thought, ‘of all people how is this happening to me?’ I am so not like that. I’ve walked through this life privileged. I don’t hit people, I use my words. And I don’t tell lies. But this can happen to any of us.”

“We have a social crisis in Charlottesville,” said Kiara Redd-Martin, who organized the protest. “I’ve lived here for 24 years, and I have never felt more unwelcome. The race problem is real. And we must fight it.”

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Jeff Winder, a coordinator for Wayside Center for Popular Education, which helped organize the protest, criticized Cville Weekly, and its editor Giles Morris, for “inflaming racial tensions” by publishing a story in a “racially charged way” without verifying what was reported.

“When you portray the news in such a way,” Winder told the crowd, “there are real consequences for real people, and real people get hurt.”

Winder helped organize a previous protest against Cville Weekly last year, when the paper ran racist comments in its former “Rant” section. Cville Weekly eventually removed the Rant section from the paper. Winder called on Morris and the Cville Weekly staff to seek further sensitivity training to better understand racial issues and how to report on them.

So far, Morris and CVille Weekly have been unapologetic about how the story was originally covered, despite the evidence that Adams and Doucette’s account of the incident appears to have been grossly inaccurate.

Indeed, given what we know now about Stevenson and Spears, and the fact that the police investigation revealed that there was no random “knock out” style attack, the accounts of the incident that Doucette and Adams post on Facebook prior to the publication of the Cville Weekly story are hard to ignore.

“We had never seen these men before and have no idea who they are. They just enjoyed punching, kicking, and hitting us. They laughed while they attacked us, high fived and gave the distinct impression that they just thought beating on us manically was a really good time. They didn’t even want our money,” wrote Doucette. “They were out to really hurt somebody and they picked us. It was like it was a game to them and it was fun for them to brutalize us. I realized they would hit me more the more times Marc told them to stop hitting me. It was surreal. I’m posting them [photos] here hoping somebody; somewhere will recognize these animals that need to be caged. This could happen to any of us in this community.”

Adams, too, described events in similar fashion, “I had never seen these guys before they were laughing an high fiving while they kicking me and punching Jeanne I truly believe it was straight up sociopathic violence a la clockwork orange without prejudice or rhyme or reason…..they didn’t hit me out of anger or to so me from doing anything they willfully Ganged up and decided they weren’t t stopping until I was seriously injured.”

Morris has, however, expressed dismay at how the public responded to the paper’s dramatic portrayal of these claims by Adams and Doucette, with many using it as evidence of “black on white violence” in Charlottesville, saying he simply read it as an “unresolved crime story that led into a number of complex local issues.”

Winder also took aim at Morris directly, referring to an editorial Morris penned that said that the city’s historic black neighborhoods would eventually “melt away” and solve the race problem, and that the “educated, mobile, professional class that is Charlottesville’s future doesn’t have a race problem.”

“What about Giles Morris telling us what the future of Charlottesville looks like,” he told the crowd, “This white, privileged male who just moved here from Wisconsin tells us what the future looks like?”

Winder then led the crowd in a chant:

“Hey, C-Ville, we’re here to stay, we are the future, we will build the way!”

Spears and Stevenson are scheduled to appear in court on February 5 for their involvement in the incident, while Doucette and Adams are scheduled to appear on March 21.

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David McNair View All →

writer. journalist. editor

41 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Since black neighborhoods in Charlottesville were formed through racism (redlining), why shouldn’t they just melt away? People should be able to live where they choose and not where they are told. Besides the housing is becoming dilapidated anyway.

  2. There isn’t a thing wrong with a white male from out of state expressing his opinion. His doing so in no way harms non-whites or keeps them from expressing their own opinions, and since he makes his living paying close attention to trends in this community, his opinion may even be worth considering.

    There is something very wrong with vague accusations like Winder’s that imply that white people are guilty for being born into the white majority, and that they exercise power (“tells us”) over minorities simply by speculating about the future of relations between the various groups. The phrase “white privilege” is a misnomer anyhow. Privilege can be refused; skin color cannot.

  3. There is a problem when the Black Race is the only race up for questioning on if they should be preserved or not? Why must the black race be the only race targeted questioned and consistently devalued in Charlottesville? WHY?……The professional mobile educated people that are charlottesville’s future doesn’t have a race problem??? is this seriously a view point by an editor who professional ethics as an editor has already been questioned that we need to consider ken? please explain why you believe that it is morally right to agree with such a statement. You must believe we should only serve the affluent citizens and elitist that run this town, at the expense of refugees poor blacks and whites young naive students and the homeless who can’t afford to be apart of the “world class city”. Get a clue! Giles Morris’ opinion and social darwinistic views of society is the exact corruption and evil that creates the oppression that keeps all of our BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF ALL RACE Ethnicitys and culturals DOWN!

    • Some people start with facts and develop opinions. Others start with opinions and catchphrases, work themselves into a lather, and don’t even refer to the facts. Naun, if you think Charlottesville professionals are racist, give examples. You’re not standing in front of a crowd of demonstrators with a bullhorn. Indignation isn’t convincing here. Labels like “social darwinistic” aren’t convincing. Be as specific as possible. Cite words and deeds. Explain why you think Morris is wrong, and explain why his opinion is corrupt. Don’t presume that a defense of someone’s right to speak implies agreement with what was said.

  4. None of this would have happened if blacks across the country had not engaged in the “knockout game” 100s of times before this incident.

    There is not a problem with the black race in Charlottesville, there is a problem with a subset of the black race in Charlottesville whos numbers are large enough that barely a week goes by when one does not have his picture on the front page of the Progress for an aggressive crime.

    If blacks do not want to be labeled as habitual criminals as a group than blacks need to demand that criminals be removed from the streets and their crimes not tolerated because of a fear of stupid protests like this.

    It is common knowledge that blacks are both slammed by police harsher than whites when no one is looking and ignored by police whenever there is some activist there ready to pull the race card for even plain old fashioned police work.

    The answer is for blacks to stop committing crimes and then the trumped up charges will be taken seriously as they should be. But, as long as blacks flaunt the rule of law, run through the mall like wild animals and start trouble blacks as a group will be painted with the same brush.

    Tolerating illegal behavior will not fix it. Making the assumption that blacks cannot succeed without assistance from whites should be an insult to anyone with black skin.

    Whites should turn around to other whites and tell them to stop the racial abuse and blacks should turn to other blacks and a tell them to follow the laws and stop making the black race look bad.

      • Bill Marshall, a simple Google search on *whites ‘knock out” game”* will surely reveal to you that blacks are not the only ones play this game. Just scroll through the headlines in the results. It does not suit blogging to perpetrate ignorance.

  5. A simple Google search will show that young black men commit a highly disproportionate amount of the violent crime in this country. It doesn’t take the KKK for people of all races to be disturbed about that, and it doesn’t take Louis Farrakhan to know that the disproportion is rooted in a long history of injustice and oppression that makes these perpetrators themselves victims.

    • It goes further back than modern history Yes, it goes back to Adam and Eve and Cain. Gosh, what stereotypes.

      “A simple Google search will show that young black men commit a highly disproportionate amount of the violent crime in this country” I thought it was the Mafia and drug cartels and cheating husbands committing a large amount of violent crimes. I’ve got to stop watching “Forensic Files” and “48 Hours” on TV. So people who have experienced injustice and oppression are the violent criminals.

      • Dave, I haven’t seen anyone here say we have a black crime problem. I myself used two other modifiers. Those percentages alone are meaningless in this discussion, because white males vastly outnumber black males in this country. I don’t have time to go hunting figures, but I think we’ve all seen and heard them.

        Eye, the rate of crime by Mafia and drug cartels has nothing to do with the rate of crime by young black men, obviously.

        This incident didn’t have a racial dimension until white racists always on the lookout for black on white crimes (alleged, in this case) came along, followed closely by progressives on the lookout for white racism and eager to allege it. As I said elsewhere on this site, I can’t see what CVille did wrong. Maybe they could have shut down that comments section earlier, but we do have a strong free speech tradition here. They certainly didn’t need to withhold one side’s account of the incident just because the other side was in hiding.

    • FBI statistics. Sounds like we have a “male” problem, not a “black” problem. Also, note the percentage of white people who were arrested.

      Nearly 74 percent (73.8) of the persons arrested in the nation during 2012 were males. They accounted for 80.1 percent of persons arrested for violent crime and 62.6 percent of persons arrested for property crime. (See Table 42.)

      In 2012, 69.3 percent of all persons arrested were white, 28.1 percent were black, and the remaining 2.6 percent were of other races. (See Table 43.)

  6. Ken,

    If you’ve got other data, would love to see it. Do you really believe this couple was randomly targeted by “three” black males in a “knock out” game style attack for nothing more than vicious fun and sport, as the couple claimed they were in Cville and on Facebook? We would not be talking about this story if they had not portrayed the incident like that. It’s not about witholding one side’s account because the other side was in hiding. It’s about verifying, questioning what you are told. Clearly, nothing of the sort happened that night, and I find it interesting that some people are choosing to overlook that.

  7. No need for me to post data’s that been widely reported and is widely known. I have no way of knowing what happened that night, but if the alleged perpetrators’ are innocent, why did they hide for 19 days? As black men they didn’t trust the justice system? Maybe. But why would the alleged victims finger them instead of the supposedly guilty third party?

    CVille couldn’t question people even the cops couldn’t find, and they’re a weekly, they have a weekly deadline. If the police had contrary information CVille didn’t report or ask for prior to publication, that’s another story. Do you know that to be the case?

    • Did you read the stories I did? My interview with Longo before the guys were found? There was plenty of information to be had that strongly suggested this was not a random “knock out” game style attack, as the couple claimed. But that is beside the point now. We know now that their account was wildly inaccurate, if not completely fabricated. But we would not be talking about the story if they hadn’t originally portrayed it that way. Are you starting to get it? Cville printed something that appears not to have been true. But everyone believed it was.

    • Ken you said “This incident didn’t have a racial dimension until white racists always on the lookout for black on white crimes (alleged, in this case) came along, followed closely by progressives on the lookout for white racism and eager to allege it.” Then you said “A simple Google search will show that young black men commit a highly disproportionate amount of the violent crime in this country.” Tying in “injustice” and “oppression,” which of these two groups do you belong, white racists or progressives?

    • “No need for me to post data’s that been widely reported and is widely known.” No, not widely reported or known. It is often repeated by those with a political agenda.

      • Facts don’t have political agendas. Look up the stats on murder in the U.S.

        Dave, Cville didn’t portray the incident as a knock-out game, they reported that Adams and Doucette wondered if it was one. That article ran on 12/29. Longo told you in an interview published on 1/5 that with the investigation still ongoing, that characterization was “most unfortunate.” But who had made it? Even Adams and Doucette had only said they wondered, and Cville had only done its job by reporting that, just as they reported what Spears and Stevenson said when those two men finally spoke.

        Longo didn’t publicly contradict their theory until the press conference on January 8, the same day the two alleged perpetrators turned themselves in. Who was Cville supposed to have questioned and verified anything with in between? The men were in hiding. Is there any evidence that the two people who insisted on being anonymous when they spoke to you and contradicted Adams and Doucette also spoke to Cville? It’s not Cville’s fault that all the facts weren’t in on 12/29. They reported the ones they had.

        The other thing is that while you’ve clearly been trying to report the story fairly, the charge of race-baiting leveled by the protestors smacks of finding what one wants to find. There are, unfortunately, demographic chunks of this community where one is not surprised to find a blame-the-black-people-first response. Cville isn’t one of them.

      • These two paragraphs in the Cville article were not attributed to the couple and one can only assume it is the opinion of the writer:

        “A couple’s late night stroll on the Christmas-lit Downtown Mall turned to terror in the early morning hours of Friday, December 20, when they were brutally assaulted by three men in what appears to have been a random act of violence…

        While Doucette suffered bruising to her head and tearing of the cartilage in her ear, Adams bore the brunt of the men’s aggression, sustaining broken bones and a concussion that he said has robbed him of any memory of the incident and its immediate aftermath. ”
        Inded the first paragraph above is the opening paragraph in the article. Perhaps the writer should make more use of “According to…” It is this kind of writing that the protesters seem to be complaining about and I do not blame them. Sloppy.

      • “According to” would have been better, that’s true. Still, that article was published over a week after the incident, and with the other party in hiding, Adams and Doucette appeared to be telling the truth. Sloppy, yes, although the rest of the story in good journalistic fashion reported the facts straight, facts from which anyone could draw their own preliminary opinions. Race-baiting, no. People who scream for fairness need to be fair themselves. It isn’t Cville’s fault that racists look for excuses.

    • “The numbers don’t lie: young black men do commit about 50% of the murders in the U.S.” That was written by the African-American linguist John McWhorter, and if you google it you’ll see he’s citing the U.S. Department of Justice. I could cite more stats, but you can find them if you want. Let me guess, they’re all by racists, right?

      I don’t believe in denying that some victims of injustice take out their resentment by committing crimes.I believe in remembering that there but for the grace of God go I.

  8. It is not the Journalists responsibility to solve the crime.. it is only their duty to report what they are told based on the veracity of the information. The story they were told was not in dispute and was rightfully presumed correct on its face at the time. People who responded were not all “racists” .. perhaps they are simply tired of the free pass that blacks get because of the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Perhaps they see with their own eyes the double standard that exists as they see the Charlottesville city council “thank” a black person who flat out called all the downtown mall business owners racists because he doesn’t see enough blacks on the mall. Perhaps they see the attorney general of the United States threaten to charge a white person who did the “game” with a hate crime while letting 50 opportunities pass when blacks did it to whites. Perhaps they saw him let the black panthers go when they intimidated voters in Philly. Perhaps they are tired of the rhetoric from blacks that says blacks cannot be racists. Perhaps they are tired of seeing blacks cry wolf over every imagined slight by a white person when black on black crime is at epidemic proportions.

    Perhaps we should look at 911 calls and see who is being named as perpetrators. Arrests don’t tell the entire story because black on black crime is ignored. I wonder how much this skews the numbers.

    Perhaps we should look at the numbers in Charlottesville in relation to the population and see how that shakes out.

    The paper allowed free speech. That is called good journalism.

    • The Constitution makes special allowances for freedom of the press and it is expected that the press exercise free speech to a higher standard than the general public, that is, it is allowed free accurate speech so that the government can not interfere. Hearsay is not good journalism.

      • So if someone makes an accusation that they were raped and filed a police report and says that it was a one armed man and the police believe them to a point that they are on the lookout for a one armed man what exactly is the press supposed to do? Should they go to the victim and ask them to prove they were raped by a one armed man? Should the press ask them if they perhaps were the perpetrator of the rape? Should they accuse the victim of lying to see if they buckle under the pressure?

        If it turns out later that it was a lie the truth will come out and it will hit the papers… Kind of like Tywana Brawly covering herself with feces and blaming six white men for gang raping her in New York only to find out that is was just a hoax because she didn’t want her boyfriend to find out she was a big cheater. She ruined the lives of six good people some of whom sued her and Al Sharpton who made it national news causing riots. He is on the air at MSNBC everyday spouting his mouth off about how evil white people are. Why don’t you go protest him?

        Blacks do not get a raw deal from the press. The press is liberal and undereports black crime. More blacks have been killed by blacks on the streets of Chicago since 2000 than all the lynchings combined.

        The reason that we have racial tension is because blacks are being dishonest about why things are not getting better. They are in fact getting better except for those who choose to not take advantage of the opportunities all around them. There are more interacial babies being born than ever, there are more interacial marriages than ever, there are more Black Doctors, Lawyers, CEOs, Professors, and millionaires than ever. There will always be a subset of any race that stays at the bottom and it is not because someone else is holding them back. Whites have to deal with the legacy of the KKK and white trash when we are being judged. We do not defend them we admit their failings and protest side by side with others when they get out of line. Perhaps if blacks turned to the trash in their community and said for them to knock it off we might get somewhere. Even blacks cross the street when they see a group of black youths with their pants around their knees coming their way. These people didn’t need to read a newspaper to understand that logic. They see whats going on around them with their own eyes. A small minority of blacks are ruining it for everybody..

        If the knockout game was not on the news people would not have made the assumptions they did.

      • Bill Marshall, “So if someone makes an accusation that they were raped and filed a police report and says that it was a one armed man and the police believe them to a point that they are on the lookout for a one armed man what exactly is the press supposed to do?” The Press reports something like these statements “The victim described her assailant as…” “The police are looking for..” or “Witnesses have described…” The Press does not say “The attacker had one arm.” It has no way of knowing that and experienced pressmen know that often during the course of an investigation the “facts” change by the time it gets to court and they do not want egg in their faces.

  9. Hearsay doesn’t exist outside a court of law. Statements to the press aren’t hearsay, they’re what the press is supposed to report.

    • The Press promulgating hearsay is sometime sued for libel. When parents ask “Says who?” the answer is often followed by “He say – She say. Don’t bring me that hearsay.”

      • The article did not use quotes, I did. From Google:
        information received from other people that one cannot adequately substantiate; rumor.

        It is not referred to as slang or solely a legal term. Sounds like common, good English to me.

      • There are no rumors in that article, just plenty of quotes and descriptions of the couple’s account. You’re playing semantics. If a court finds that Adams and Doucette lied, Spears and Stevenson may have grounds to sue them for defamation. Not Cville. “Adequate” is another fudge word. Read my reply to Dave McNair at 8:24 last night and tell me exactly why Cville had cause to doubt Adams and Doucette on 1/29. What other account could they have reported on 1/29?

        Say troubled blacks should just get it together and people like you cry “racism.” Say it’s understandable they have problems and people like you cry patronization.” That’s just the looking-for-a-fight attitude that prevents understanding and healing. Looked up those murder stats yet? Keep throwing mud and hope some of it sticks.

      • The very first paragraph of the Cville article appeared to state a fact and not the opinion of the “victims.” The other paragraph I quoted was also quoted as a fact. The newspaper presented their story as a fact. It should not have done so. To say that all African Americans are scarred is nothing short of racism because you are ascribing a characteristic to a group of people based solely upon nothing but race. I bet you think that all black people can play basketball, sing and dance. Personally, I did not think the article was racist; I thought it was an example of careless journalism. That is not a question of who’s right or wrong or wh’s telling the truth or a lie. Don’t put words in my mouth. Start using yours more wisely.

      • Cville presented as a fact a story Spears and Stevenson in nine days hadn’t even challenged themselves. They then went on, in good journalistic fashion, to give readers the information they based that assessment on. They should have been more careful, I agree, but they weren’t writing for an audience of children without the reading comprehension skills to form their own opinions from the information given.

        I ascribed a characteristic to a group of people based upon their shared history. Everyone has been hurt by the legacy of racism in this country, some more than others, some in different ways than others. I don’t know who would deny this obvious truth, which was written to someone who seemed to overlook it. But some people always seem eager to misinterpret, and you’ve interpreted what I’ve said in worst possible fashion several times in this discussion.

        I didn’t say you called the story racist. I said you called me racist (“patronizing”), and here now you just did. You have put words in my mouth, and ducked facts and questions contradicting your charges. I’m done with this discussion. If you’ve been in it for the sake of peace and justice, try giving people the benefit of the doubt. Let’s all hope Spears and Stevenson are innocent.

      • The only instance of the “patronizing” on this page is in your comment, certainly not mine.
        “I ascribed a characteristic to a group of people based upon their shared history. Everyone has been hurt by the legacy of racism in this country…” You say yourself that everyone share in this history so why ascribe it to this group in particular? Perhaps it would be wiser in the future for you to refrain from making sweeping generalizations about any large group of people and narrow the focus of your remarks to individuals as much as possible. That may help to keep you from being misunderstood and accused of various “isms.” The Media is well aware that its consumers will not always be sophisticated readers understanding the writer’s intent. I’m sure some high schoolers and possibly so middle schoolers and even some elementary schoolers have been following stories of this incident and most may lack the proper discernment abilities. I think we both are exhausted from this thread.

  10. African-Americans have been scarred by centuries of cruelty and discrimination, Bill. You can’t just expect that they’re all going to magically trust and forgive us and have the strength to take advantage of new opportunities. Would we all have that strength of character? And yet many of them do.

    The PC liberals who go hunting for hints of racism and go off on self-righteous rants about it and jump to the defense of accused African-Americans just because they’re African-American are the people most to blame here.

      • This was supposed to be part of a reply to Bill Marshall, not Ken.

        “African-Americans have been scarred by centuries of cruelty and discrimination, Bill.” I think blacks would be interested to know that Ken thinks they are scarred. Frankly I do not see where they have been scarred any more than anybody else.

  11. The press reports what information is available and it makes an assumption that its readership realizes that they are reporting third party info from reliable sources and are not not an actual witness to every event they write about. That is why there are followup articles and even discussions like this. To make the claim that the paper was trying to stir up controversy on its own by not challenging the victims is absurd. Do you think if two blacks had made the claim that they were attacked by whites and called racial slurs that the paper should call them liars instead of reporting the information as it was given to police and the paper?

    These protesters are trying to stop dialogue because they can’t handle the truth that blacks are not the victims they once were and are often responsible for creating their problems. There was no need to throw a punch. In C-ville they could have called the Police and woud have had them file a hate crime against the whites for calling them a racial slur.

  12. It’s interesting that Jeff Winder makes a lot of noise about not wanting people to get hurt.I guess that only applies if he’s not punching someone in the face at a press conference.Where does his funding,and that of the Wayside Center come from?It’s a question I plan to look into.People who inject themselves into the public debate need to be free of suspect influences and I hope that’s true.We shall see.

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