The Story: On Saturday April 14th, two White reporters for the Virginian-Pilot, Dave Forster and Marjon Rostami, were driving home from a show at the Attucks Theatre. They had stopped for a red light at the corner of Church and Brambleton; there was a crowd of 100 people, mostly black, on the adjacent sidewalks. Someone threw a rock at Forster's car; Forster got out to investigate. Suddenly, an estimated 30 blacks swarmed the vehicle; wave after wave of young bucks surged forward to take turns punching and kicking Forster. When Rostami tried to pull Forster back into the car, attackers came after her, pulling her hair, punching her head and causing a bloody scratch to the surface of her eye. She called 911. A recording told her all lines were busy. She called again. Busy. On her third try, she got through and, hysterical, could scream only their location. Church and Brambleton. Police responded and quelled the attack; as a result, neither one of the victims suffered grave injuries. But Forster's torso ached from blows to his ribs, and he retained a thumb-sized bump on his head. And now Rostami fears to be alone in her home. Both missed a week of work.
Update May 2nd: WVEC Channel 13 has now jumped on the story. The primary value of their report is to provide a look at the area where the attack occurred:
Ironically, the local Martin Luther King monument is located at the corner of Church and Brambleton. Amazing how so many Martin Luther King streets and monuments are located in the most dangerous -- and blackest -- areas of town.
But Michelle Washington seems more interested in blaming the police than in having her newspaper accept its share of the responsibility for the delay in coverage. She notes that the responding officer coded the incident as a simple assault, despite assertions that at least 30 people had participated in the attack. She says that as a result, a reporter making routine checks of police reports would see "simple assault" and, if the names were unfamiliar, would be unlikely to write about it. She also thinks that editors hesitate to assign a story about their own employees, because it would look like preferential treatment of them.
One commenter challenges the "simple assault" excuse:
A beating by a gang of young
Submitted by George B Bryant Iii, Virginia Beach, VA on Tue, 05/01/2012 at 3:33 pm.
A beating by a gang of young thugs, perhaps as many as 30, is not a simple assault. The police coded it wrong. While a Pilot reporter may not pay much attention to a simple assault report when making checks of police files, the fact that 30 or so young people were involved and that the newspaper knew the facts first hand should have prompted immediate coverage, regardless of who was involved. This is political correctness run amok and the editors should have run the story immediately. One wonders how many such crimes are listed as simple by the police when they are not. The only thing that I see the young victims did wrong was to open a car door. The driver should have left the scene, running over anyone in the way. I can only hope the police will take such gang crimes more seriously in the future and that The Pilot will report them. My thanks go out to Michelle Washington for her report. Unfortunately I can't say the same for the editors who apparently tried to suppress the story. It should have been on the front page.
Other commenters also take the Virginian-Pilot to task for political correctness. Either the Virginian-Pilot is afraid to report black-on-white crime, or it has become such a commonplace occurrence that they no longer consider it newsworthy. The latter is a scarier proposition.