Flickering the Light Switch

“Often missing in police brutality debate: Latinos” reads the June 3 Washington Post below the foldheadline. Gringos who took high school Spanish and graduated college with grievance exploitation majors shouldn’t take this lying down. Don’t editors know how hurtful it is—to anyone laying the multicultural minefield—not to use the term “Lantinx”?

The martyr highlighted for this episode of dimming the facts was Ernie Serrano who “…was at a Stater Bros. market picking up snacks that night.” We still don’t know if any of them included Skittles. Author Silvia Foster-Frau leaves out a few other things that might be more germane than the victim’s choice of munchies.

“Serrano is heard pleading “Let me go please” several times in a body camera video, at one point saying ”I can’t breathe” and “You’re using excessive force” in between cries of pain. Several minutes later, an officer notices that the man is not breathing. The officers place him on the floor and try to resuscitate him. He is pronounced dead at a hospital.”

We later learn that “Serrano’s death did not get much attention beyond the local news…” It could have stood a healthier dose of “attention” from the Washington Post. Fortunately, local news was on it. The Palm Springs California NBC affiliate tells us this only 7 days after Serrano’s December 15th 2020 death:

“…encounters with Serrano began on the evening of Dec. 14, when the suspect’s family called 911 complaining that he was “not acting rationally, and was `out of control.”‘

Deputies went to the residence and found Serrano — who had several prior convictions in Los Angeles and Orange counties, including for assault on a peace officer–

“belligerent, aggressive and displaying obvious signs of being under the influence,” the sheriff said.

“Deputies used a Taser to force Mr. Serrano to comply,” Bianco said. “He was treated at a local hospital and taken to the Robert Presley Detention Center.”

Serrano was booked on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance and felony obstructing a peace officer. However, because the county correctional system is operating under court-mandated capacity limitations due to the coronavirus public health emergency, Serrano was released on his own recognizance the following morning.”

The Post gives four paragraphs, five if you count the caption over a quarter page of photos, of coverage to Serrano’s mother’s grief.  They failed to include one word about his own family calling cops on him the night before in an article of roughly 2000 words. The descriptive gap only widens as the piece continues. Here’s more from NBC:

“That evening, he went to the market, and for the next “two to three hours”  floated in and out of the store, exhibiting bizarre behavior, “cutting in front of people in the shopping aisles” and on several occasions trying to buy goods by offering his driver’s license as a payment device, according to the sheriff.

Bianco showed two videos — one from a deputy-worn body camera, the other from store security surveillance tape — that documented the final 30 minutes of what transpired in the business.

The tape showed the suspect going from one checkout lane to another, stepping in front of customers or attempting to conduct a transaction while others were handling their own. Multiple store employees, including managers, engaged Serrano, gesturing for him to leave or move aside. No one appeared aggressive as the suspect aimlessly wandered back and forth, holding a bag of groceries.

An armed security guard, who was apparently called to the location, confronted Serrano in a checkout lane and tried to escort him out of the store, at which point a tussle ensued.

Over five to 10 minutes, the guard and Serrano fought, with the latter battling the guard’s attempts to pull him toward the front of the store. The guard deployed both a Taser and pepper spray to subdue Serrano, whom Bianco alleged “tried to remove the guard’s handgun.”

The non-lethal products had no effect on the suspect, and when deputies rushed into the business, the struggle was still in full swing, according to the video footage. The guard broke off combat when the deputies approached.

“Our deputies intervened and tried to detain Mr. Serrano, but he did not comply,” Bianco said. “A Taser was used, and he fell to the ground, but then he got back on his feet.”

Images showed a deputy using his baton on the suspect’s right arm and leg to make him desist, but Serrano seemed impervious to the strikes. Another deputy then tackled the suspect, and with the help of three others, corralled him, pushing him onto a checkout counter, using two sets of handcuffs to restrain him.

“My name is Ernie Serrano!” the suspect shouted, giving his date of birth. “Let me go! Let me go! Why did you tase me?”

Serrano was bleeding from a gash over his left eye, and the blood was flowing into his mouth, prompting him to spit numerous times. As a health precaution, a “spit shield” was placed over his head, according to Bianco.

“Take the mask off!” Serrano said, coughing and seemingly short of breath.

A deputy who was involved in the prior day’s arrest noted that when he and his partner took Serrano to a hospital for a pre-booking medical examination, “his heart rate was like 190.”

Deputies held Serrano on the checkout counter for about seven or eight minutes, repeatedly asking him to calm down. However, he abruptly went silent and limp, at which point a corporal yelled, “He’s stopped breathing.”

Serrano was laid on the floor, where deputies removed the handcuffs and mask, initiating chest compressions for Cal Fire paramedics, who had been staging outside the store. They tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead a short time later at Riverside Community Hospital.

“The death was determined to be acute methamphetamine intoxication with fatal arrhythmia,” Bianco said.””

Do any of the video documented facts above strike the lay reader as relevant in the least? Did any of the 20 some thousand victims of murder last year receive this kind of front page attention from Bezos’ daily kampf  to save democracy from darkness? Some of them may have been a wee bit more innocent than Serrano.

Few people who still read dailies would be likely to doubt Latinos have died under controversial and mysterious circumstances at the hands of police. So what’s the idea of pouring ink onto this regretful—but practically unavoidable—event? We had nearly 400 homicides a week last year. Yet, they skip every relevant detail they can in a rare instance that gets front page coverage in the WP?  Has Foster-Frau gone out of her way not to find a legitimate case?

If they don’t think anyone without a press card is an imbecile the question becomes: whose side are they on? It certainly appears to be one determined redefine “journalism” and national debate into an emotion laden free-for-all. When supposed media authorities stoop to such standards as common practice challenging incomplete, deceptive narratives can become a risky venture.

The opening focus of the Post piece goes so far afield it is pointless to delve into the stats, methodology of compilation or conclusions. But it is safe to say that distinguishing Hispanics from whites is not always a clear cut matter. Police may have been completely oblivious to Serrano’s ancestry. His language habits sound as native-born American as a Connecticut WASP’s.

On what grounds can media whine and cite Nazis when they aren’t heeded? The article comes off like a cattle prod jolting anyone concerned about misleading “news” reports. Attempts at righting their factual wrongs and omissions just up the stakes. If any of the gods in their pantheon–Murrow, Lippmann, Pyle, Tarbell, West, Cronkite—were still around could they even be hired for a reporting job today? Petty animus and truth abuse seem to top the list of qualifications necessary to get into the racket.

The centerpiece story above the fold on the 3rd grabs viewers with a photo of armed men on a quaint Mexican street. “Mexico racked by electoral violence” reads the header. The sub continues: “Bodyguards, bullet proof vests appear on trail as crime groups target candidates in a battle for turf.”Another front page photo shows candidate Mario Figueroa exposing a bullet wound to the camera. It abuts the Serrano piece. Less sophisticated subscribers could find it counterproductive to have the woke writing copy while the Aryan Nation is doing page layout.

There may be a legitimate case that people with origins south of our border are unduly targeted by police. But Silvia Foster-Frau is doing no one in that ethnic group any favors making it. But at this point is it even possible to do harm by the cause of conventional media? Where fidelity to facts is concerned it’s already a lost one.

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