'How History Is Molded': SF Chron Whitewashes Oakland Murder Victim's 'Occupy' Camp Presence

I went to the Associated Press last night to see what the self-described Essential Global News Network would have to say about the murder which took place in Oakland on Thursday afternoon "near" that city's increasingly disgusting and dangerous "Occupy" camp.

Here's what I found, as written by Terry Collins (the report has since been updated and its 7:07 a.m. today version is saved here, but the paragraph which follows was also present last night; bolds are mine throughout this post):


(Paragraph 18) A preliminary investigation into the Oakland shooting suggested it resulted from a fight between two groups of men at or near the encampment, police Chief Howard Jordan said. Investigators do not know if the men in the fight were associated with Occupy Oakland, he said.

The bolded assertion seemed more than a little odd, given that earlier Friday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported the following about the murdered man (bolds are mine):

Slaying victim slept at Occupy Oakland camp

The man who was shot to death near the Occupy Oakland camp Thursday had spent a few nights there, his cousin said, as city officials and the police union renewed their calls for the camp to pull up stakes.

Madea Williams, who said she was the shooting victim’s cousin, said he had shared a tent with her at the camp.

Police have not released the man’s name, but said he appeared to be in his 20s. Williams said his first name was Alex.

The man was shot in the head around 5 p.m. outside a BART station exit in Frank Ogawa Plaza, at 14th Street and Broadway. He was taken to Highland Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. No arrests have been made.

Protesters originally said they did not think the man was associated with their month-old encampment.

I wasn't aware of what the Chonicle had done to rewrite history in the meantime. It should outrage anyone who expects truth in reporting.

Unfortunately (and disgracefully), I had to link to Zombie's Chronicle excerpt at the PJ Tatler to retrieve the above excerpt. That's because the Chronicle itself has scrubbed the report and flushed it down the media memory hole (Google News proof of its non-existence is here, based on a search on the articles first 18 words in quotes). Three blogs besides Zombie, including Gateway Pundit, excerpted the original story's opening sentence, as seen in this Google Blogs search on the same 18 words in quotes.

A few hours later, here is what the Chronicle had to say about what it supposedly knew earlier:

Oakland police say they have no reason to believe that a man shot and killed outside the Occupy Oakland encampment had ever spent a night there, despite the claims of a camp resident who said he was her cousin and had slept in her tent.

... The man’s name has not been released. Although the woman identifying herself as his cousin said he had slept in the camp, several veterans of Occupy Oakland said they didn’t recognize him.

Officer Johnna Watson, an Oakland police spokeswoman, said today that investigators had found no indication the man was connected to Occupy Oakland.

Wouldn't you know, that version of the story also isn't at the Chonicle any more. So I had to go to Zombie again to retrieve the relevant text (paraphrasing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz -- "News reports come and go so quickly here!").

Proof that the just-excerpted report did exist at the Chronicle yesterday in this Google Web search on the item's first 25 words.

By the time it got to this morning's print edition (indicated as having appeared on Page A-10; also saved here), Chronicle reporters Kevin Fagan and Justin Berton were even more strident in their denial-based reporting on the victim's OWS status:

Occupy Oakland campers defy city demand to leave

One day after a man was shot and killed outside the Occupy Oakland encampment, activists said the killing was not connected to their settlement and vowed to remain despite a city demand that they leave immediately.

Oakland police said they did not believe the shooting victim lived among the 180 tents in Frank Ogawa Plaza, regardless of claims from a camp resident who said the man was her cousin and had slept in her tent.

The victim was shot in the head about 5 p.m. Thursday outside a BART station exit at 14th Street and Broadway, on the doorstep of Occupy Oakland. Police have not released his name, and no arrests have been made. Investigators said witnesses told them the suspect was a frequent resident of the Occupy camp over the past several days.

Zombie's observations:

I guess eyewitness testimony is no match for the pressure of political spin. If several OWS activists with a strong political motivation to disassociate the crime from their movement insist they don’t know the guy, then that becomes the dominant narrative. But ponder this: if no one even knows the victim’s name or identity, and very few people saw him on the ground before he was carried away, then how they be so sure he wasn’t one of theirs?

Expect the victim’s cousin, who personally shared a tent with the victim at the camp, to suddenly change her story and/or disappear from the scene.

Originally, it struck me as odd that initial reports indicated that Occupiers "surrounded the scene of the shooting and made a human chain to keep photographers from filming the victim." (This is yet another detail flushed from an original report which I had to find at a blog; it was originally here at KTVU, but isn't any more.)

In hindsight, the Occam's Razor explanation for the human chain is that Occupiers didn't want others to learn the truth that a good photo could tell -- namely, that the victim had spent plenty of time in their camp, and that his presence there was relevant factor in his death.

Another Zombie observation about this episode, which in a sane world would be treated as a media scandal, is as good a wrap-up to this post as anything I could possibly compose: "This is how history is molded. One crucial detail at a time."

I would merely substitute the word "rewritten" for "molded." In short order, it seems likely that the AP will finish the job on a national level. This post will remain as proof of their perfidy.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.