This was another horrible story out of New York no matter how you look at it, but one which also demonstrated something about the rapid response team in the media brigade. A “disturbed man” by the name of Calvin Peters walked into a synagogue early this morning, stabbed a teenage Israeli student in the neck and was shot dead by police after an extended attempt to disarm him and take him in peacefully. (Video at the end of this article.)
Police shot and killed a disturbed man after he walked into one of Brooklyn’s most prominent synagogues Tuesday morning and stabbed someone there, sources said.
The bloodshed at the world headquarters of Chabad-Lubavitch at 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights happened shortly after 1 a.m., sources said.
A Chabad spokesman said that witnesses reported that the man said “Kill the Jews” but police said the man might have shouted, “I will kill all of you.” One witness told the Post that the man did not talk about killing Jews.
Calvin Peters, 50, walked into the basement of the synagogue where people were praying, sources said.
“According to witnesses he was heard saying repeatedly, “Kill the Jews!” Chabad Rabbi Motti Seligson said.
As almost always happens, early reporting of the event is varying wildly, even when we have video of the critical sequence of events. I’ve seen Peters’ age reported variously as 49, 50 and 51. He’s described as being homeless, but also a resident of Brooklyn. At least one witness said he was screaming about wanting to “kill a Jew” and another heard no such thing. Some describe him as being mentally disturbed and others recount a long criminal record with 30 or more previous arrests on a variety of charges. But the long and short of it is that he clearly stabbed a student and is now dead.
So how was this described in the press? You can look at the Seattle PI where Peters is described as a knife-wielding man who was fatally shot by police. Haaretz describes him as the assailant who was shot by one of the officers.
But do you notice what is missing from the newspaper report above, as well as others online and the coverage on CNN today? At no point in the early coverage did I once see anyone writing or hear anyone in the media saying, a white police officer shot and killed a black suspect today in a New York synagogue.
Guess what? That’s exactly what happened. But unlike the shooting of Michael Brown and the death of Eric Garner, where that was the lead in virtually every single news report you can find, not one source said it coming out of the gate today. Why? Because it doesn’t fit the ongoing theme of narrative journalism. In fact, I’d like to check back at the end of the week and see if anyone in the press is still even talking about this story.
My guess is that this will go down the memory hole pretty quickly because there are a number of obvious aspects to this story which make it quite unappealing to the media. First of all, the stabbing victim was Jewish and stories about people attacking Jews aren’t exactly a high priority in the MSM. Second, the attacker who wound up being shot isn’t going to make for a very sympathetic figure given the moment by moment video of the event which is available to the public. And perhaps most importantly, the actions of the responding officers is a textbook case of excellent police work… the same sort that goes on every single day in cities around the nation.
The video begins before the police even arrive, with a Rabbi trying to convince Peters to put away his weapon and leave peacefully. The first (white) officer on the scene arrives, draws down on the suspect and begins a lengthy attempt at deescalating the situation. At one point he even convinces Peters to set the knife on a table and step away with his hands up. The officer holsters his weapon and begins to approach, but Peters grabs the knife again, forcing the officer to back up and once again draw his weapon. More officers arrive and Peters eventually charges them, resulting in a cop shooting him. Once. Peters goes down immediately.
That’s how cops deal with these encounters all the time. It’s a classic case of good police work and the rest of the people studying at the synagogue were saved. So I assume that we’ll see the media going on and on for weeks now to provide balanced coverage, talking about how well the cops did their job, right?
Pull the other one. It’s got bells on it.
The video follows, but you must be cautioned in advance. It is a disturbing, violent scene and there is a tremendous amount of foul language in it, so you’ve been warned.
This post was edited to reflect that Eric Gardner was not shot.