Activist and community leader Tawanda Jones responds to FOX 45 Baltimore airing a heavily edited clip making it seem she was chanting “kill a cop” at a protest
MEGAN SHERMAN, TRNN CORRESPONDENT: On Monday, December 21, protesters targeted Baltimore’s local FOX affiliate for airing a clip to make it appear that a local activist promoted killing police.
REPORTER: At this rally in Washington, D.C., participants chanted, “We won’t stop, we can’t stop, so kill a cop.”
CROWD: We won’t stop (We won’t stop!), we can’t stop (We can’t stop!), till killer cops (Till killer cops!) [snip]
SHERMAN: This comes just days after police union officials and others have blamed the deaths of two NYPD officers on a wave of anti police brutality protests that have swept the nation. That activist, Tawanda Jones, has become a leading and vocal but peaceful advocate of police reform ever since her brother Tyrone West was killed in Baltimore police custody a year and a half ago. Jones and the local activist group Bmore Bloc have organized weekly protests and taken legal action in the wake of the killing of her brother. FOX 45 took down the story and allowed Jones to come on air to publicly clear name.
INTERVIEWER: And at issue, of course, is the chant that was heard and seen in a story featured on FOX 45 Sunday night. We played that chant. You’ve heard the chant. And it was you at a rally in Washington, D.C., leading participants in a chant that we mistakenly reported as “We won’t stop, we can’t stop, so kill a cop.”
TAWANDA JONES, BROTHER OF SLAIN TYRONE WEST: But the interesting part is–that really gets to me: when you guys edited it and stopped, like, how could that be a mistake? You stopped right there. You don’t get the part of until killer cops are in cell blocks, until cell blocks. That’s–like, so once you play that whole thing, you will know that that’s not something being said. Like, you would have to be an idiot, someone that hates, to say kill somebody, especially some cops that I need to protect my family. We need good cops; I need, we need, my community need good cops.
SHERMAN: The Real News reached out to FOX 45, but they’ve refused to answer questions about whether the person responsible for editing the clip was or will be reprimanded. They referred us to the written statement on their website, which includes an apology:
Although last night’s report reflected an honest misunderstanding of what the protesters were saying, we apologize for the error.
But Jones says the damage has been done. Her character has been tarnished in the public’s eyes and may even be putting her family in danger.
JONES: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. My name has never been put out in the media in a bad, negative way, because I don’t break the law, I don’t commit crimes. I put my life on the line for what’s right, and that’s fighting this ugly fight of police brutality. And for me and my family to endure not feeling safe now even more because they want to say that I’m lobbying against or anti-police is ridiculous.
SHERMAN: The local Fox affiliate ran the misleading story about Jones in light of the recent killing of two NYPD officers by Baltimore native Ismaaiyl Brinsley. He posted pictures and video on Instagram aligning his actions with the protests around the killing of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Jones says she believes the misconstruing of the chants’ messaging was done deliberately by the news station for ratings.
JONES: That was something totally put out there. And in my opinion, it was done for ratings, because if you notice that it was cut at the most crucial part, the most crucial part, that would let a person know that was listening what she would’ve hurt cellblocks, that wouldn’t have fit into oh, I want a police officer whacked off. Don’t make sense. But it makes sense if you want rates, because, if you notice that, it was cut at the most crucial part, the most crucial part, that would [incompr.] a person know that was listening. Once you would have heard cell blocks, that wouldn’t have fit into “Oh, I want a police officer whacked off.” Don’t make sense. But it makes sense if you want ratings. But I’m just glad that in this situation they acknowledge a problem. And that’s why I forgive them.
SHERMAN: Members of the Baltimore Bloc say that they will not allow this incident to deter them from continuing to fight to hold police accountable for their actions.
This is Megan Sherman reporting with The Real News Network.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.