In Durham, the Herald-Sun writes that “there’s no choice now but to shut [the Whichard Committee] down. Reality can be a difficult pill, and this is no time for the city to lose its insurance company. Even without the committee, we know enough to realize that a bad crash is probably unavoidable. Now we’re just bracing ourselves.”
The Bob Ashley-led editorial page laments that the falsely accused “students and their families have retained some of the highest profile lawyers in the nation to punish the city and its Police Department . . . The players’ attorneys for this round of blood-letting include Barry Sheck, who helped represent O.J. Simpson.” (Actually, the attorney’s name is Barry Scheck, and he’s much better known for his work with the Innocence Project, which the H-S conveniently fails to mention.) Playing the race and class card so common to H-S editorials over the past 18 months, the paper notes, “We may also wish that the players would refrain from demanding a huge settlement that will only hurt Durham taxpayers who played no part in putting them through what, admittedly, was a long nightmare.”
Ashley et al. then outdo themselves:
The City of Durham is in a tough spot because, as they say, mistakes were made. We already know that a police lineup in which an exotic dancer identified the three lacrosse players violated police procedures. We can wish, in retrospect, that someone inside the department had stood up and screamed that the lineup was wrong and the case was a sham, but that didn’t happen.The details of the lineup were publicly known less than a month after the first two arrests. Here was Jim Coleman, in the N&O, on June 14, 2006—in a statement ignored by the Herald-Sun editorial staff:
The circumstances under which the alleged victim identified the three defendants is typical. An assumption has been that Nifong and the Durham police merely botched the procedures under which the alleged victim identified the three members of the lacrosse team whom she claims raped her. According to the police account of the identification, however, the police officer who presided over the proceedings told the alleged victim at the outset that he wanted her to look at people the police had reason to believe attended the party. Thus, the police not only failed to include people they knew were not suspects among the photographs shown the woman, they told the witness in effect that there would be no such "fillers" among the photographs she would see.
This strongly suggests that the purpose of the identification process was to give the alleged victim an opportunity to pick three members of the lacrosse team who could be charged. Any three students would do; there could be no wrong choice. The prosecutor would not care if the pre-trial identification was subsequently thrown out by the court. The accuser would identify them at trial by pointing to the three defendants seated in front of her as the three men who assaulted her. The prosecutor would argue that she had an independent basis (independent of the identifications thrown out) for doing so.
Durham taxpayers can wish, in retrospect, that the city’s only newspaper had stood up and screamed that the lineup was wrong, but that didn’t happen.
It’s not easy to make the Bob Ashley-led editorial board look moderate, but Group of 88 member Kathy Rudy was more than up to the task. Writing in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Rudy (an extremist even among the Group of 88) states that she finds “what’s happening with [Michael] Vick, who pleaded guilty Monday to a felony charge, alarming.” Alarming not because Vick admitted to a collective effort executing through drowning and hanging some of his dogs (Rudy euphemistically observes only that “Vick treated his dogs very cruelly”) but because . . . you guessed it:
"Vick is black, and most of the folks in charge of the other activities [rodeos, horse racing, dog racing, and the “billions of creatures we torture in factory farms for our food”] are white."
For Rudy, what’s the lesson of the case? Of course, white racism:
Animal advocates must start building coalitions with other social movements and non-white minorities if we hope to bring about widespread change for animals.
If we want to build a better world for animals, the animal rights movement must examine its own racial politics and figure out ways to put minority concerns on its agenda.
Kathy Rudy and Bob Ashley. Still playing the racial card—because, it appears, they have no other card to play.