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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Biased Reporting About a Lakewood Bias Crime

Recently the Jewish community in Lakewood experienced a brutal sexual assault. When Elchonon Zimmerman saw Jamarr Dickerson, a strange teenager on his property, he tried to take a picture of him with his cell phone. There was a scuffle, people nearby arrived to assist the property owner who subdued the teenager. When police arrived they arrested Zimmerman charging him with assault.

This was just the beginning though as the NAACP held a press conference demanding that bias crime charges be lodged against everyone involved because there had been supposed shouts of racial slurs.

Now call me crazy but when a man gets into a scuffle with an intruder on his private property, the police should at the very least arrest the intruder as well as the homeowner. The NAACP has persistently refered to Jamarr Dickerson as a child, but Jamarr Dickerson is a fairly large 15 year old who could reasonably be mistaken for older. The Asbury Park Press however has repeatedly trumpeted the NAACP line without ever interviewing Rabbi Zimmerman or getting the other side of the story or even pretending to do so, but continues to suggest in every article that Dickerson was an innocent victim while implying that it's only Jewish influence that has created the irregularity that led to Zimmerman only being charged with assault, rather than a hate crime.

Now both sides agree on the following. Jamarr Dickerson was trespassing behind Rabbi Elchonon Zimmerman's home. Zimmerman attempted to take a photo of Dickerson with his cell phone. Zimmerman claims Dickerson tore the cell phone out of his hand and smashed it. Dickerson only claims he put up his hand to block it. Zimmerman subdued him and held him till the police arrived. The police describe this as an assault, the press describes this as a virtual lynch mob with a crowd gathering and attacking Dickerson, but the only injuries Dickerson had were minor cuts and bruises. As Yankel Rosenbaum could tell you, if he was still alive, when you're attacked by an angry mob, you don't get off with cuts and bruises, which are far more consistent with the minor scuffle Zimmerman describes. Dickerson himself admits that all that really happened was that he was held down, which is to be expected if you're trespassing and get into a fight with the property owner.

These are the actual facts. What has turned this into such a circus has been the claims of racial slurs being hurled at Dickerson. Now Zimmerman did not hurl any racial slurs. Supposedly some of the gathered men did. The NAACP wants an investigation to determine who in the crowd said anything to him and to arrest them all. I'd respect this position more if the NAACP equally applied it to black on white slurs. Of course they do not. The NAACP wants Zimmerman charged with a bias crime, but there is nothing biased in confronting an intruder on your property, especially after your community has suffered a horrific crime.

The entire discussion of race conveniently turns a fairly straightforward account with a minor discrepancy into a major case with racial heroes and villains. Strip away the races though and it becomes an ordinary enough dispute of a kind every town sees on and on between property owners and teenagers. Race though turns it into a narrative about racist Jews and the Black teenager victimized by them. And this is why injecting race into a legal situation distorts it out of all measure. The pungent media bias only finalizes the distorted narrative reporting one side's version of events as the absolute truth and transforming the ambiguity of an incident into a screenplay.


  1. In any other community, Mr. Zimmerman would be lauded as a courageous man concerned with the safety of his community, but as usual the NAACP must raise the race card. I don't see Zimmerman's actions as even remotely biased.

    Given the prior rape, Zimmerman had just cause to be concerned about an unknown male lurking behind his property (which is suspicious in an of itself regardless of the person doing it, BTW). For all he knew, Dickerson could have been a potential rapist or burglar.

    And given the 20 or so foot long swastika someone painted in a community over the weekend (can't recall off hand where it occurred), I would be concerned about having an outsider sulking around my community too. As I wrote, all things considered, Zimmerman had every right to be suspicious of Dickerson and his actions.

    As for the racial slurs, well, when people are upset and want to verbally lash out they resort to insults...bringing up that someone is skinny, fat, ect., so why would an occassional slur be of great concern? Besides, there doesn't appear to be any evidence that Zimmerman made any racial slurs.

  2. Yes, his actions were reasonable particularly if he had been physically attacked which it appears may have been the case

    Certainly when a neighborhood suffers a brutal and shocking crime, it's normal for people to be on alert and taking a photo of a suspect was a reasonable precaurtion

    Dickerson had no reason to block the photo unless he was engaged in things that he didn't want recorded

  3. Right. And as for the media bias it's typical. Mind you no reporter would admit to bias or even writing with a bad slant. Nope, instead editors encourage them and the reporters themselves decide which "angle" they want to approach in a story. Apparently, they chose to use the "angle" that this was a hate crime.

    They can call it "angle" all they want but it's media bias is what it is. And I would say the reporters are lazy as well. They didn't even have to call Zimmerman directly.

    It would so simple to call the NYPD Public Information Officer (PIO) and get a copy of the arrest report, which often includes suspect, victim and witness statements in minute detail.

    You'd be surprised how much information contained in arrest reports and supporting depositions never makes to a news article though.

  4. And it's nothing short of bizarre that there would be three news stories about an incident, none of which makes any effort to interview zimmerman or anyone else at the scene

    Indeed only one story even quoted Dickerson. NAACP representatives who had not been there were repeatedly quoted. Most of the material though appeared to be simply composed with no sources.

  5. http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2005511180397

    Read this for Lakewood Anti semitism..this from a "Christian" minister.

    The NAACP is a communist front organization. Only idiots dont know that.

    The Asbury Park Press is dying and needs to rake all the muck it can from the bottom of the sewage pond to print to boost sales.
    Dont expect much from them.
    Still bloggers should condemn this soundly.

  6. Anonymous13/6/06

    I think we need to remember that the most prominent and popular black leaders, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farikan, AL Sharpton, are all notorious Jew haters. As well as many of the most beloved black organizations like the Black Panthers had a Nazi like attitude towards the Jewish people.

  7. Anonymous13/6/06

    There are more and more instances of this type of attitude lashing out at Jews. It is a symptom of more to come, in my estimation. It fits the classical pattern of an ending galus.

    These are signs that we no longer belong in this country, under its SAR. We all need to go to Israel, as soon as we can cut the strings holding us here.

    This is my assessment.

    Wishing everyone a beautiful summer.

  8. Anonymous13/6/06

    if indeed racial epitaths were used, then it is a "racial narrative", it is something larger

    just like plain ole vandalism becomes something larger if the vandals spraypaint swastikas

    just like Jesse Jackson's "hymietown" and Michael Jackson's "kike me" are part of a larger narrative

    there's a pretty good chance racial epitaths were used because like "Hashemforever" says, "people get angry", but that's no excuse. Anger is idolatry.

    I've heard Jews, religious and secular, use racial slurs even when not angry so I know from firsthand experience Jews can be racists, just as I know blacks can be anti-Jewish.
    (note I realize there are Jews who are also black and there are blacks who use racial slurs too I am speaking in generalities)

    Who cares about the media and naacp? If the Jewish people involved used racist slurs the question to ask is, "was that proper Torah behavior?"

  9. lemon - disturbing stuff, by the end it segueways into ranting about their blood and our blood that sounds positively nazyish.

    kahaneloyalist - yup, unfortunately a lot of the black leadership has been anti-semitic. of the naacp, we need look no further than benjamin chavis

    neshama - have a good summer too

    catlady - for starters depends what was actually said. insults are a reality of the world we live in. I peg them well before the danger or threat of physical harm or theft of property. As for jackson and jackson, both of them got off scot free.

  10. the significance of the ALLEGED racial slurs would only be significant from the perspective of this being a hate crime IF Rabbi Zimmerman's actions were motived by racial bias, which clearly does not appear to be the case.

    He was worried about a trespasser, and had Dickerson simply fled there would most likely not have been any confrontation at all. And I'd be curious to know if Dickerson had hurled any anti-semitic remarks first.
    I'm not saying racial slurs are appropriate but people do utter them. Sometimes it's ignorance, sometimes it done in the heat of the moment. But a racial slur doesn't automatically make an incident a hate crime, which is a federal not state crime with strict definitions. You can check the FBI wesbite for more information on hate crimes.

    Sultan--single quote/source news reports are bad enough; no quotes or sources is totally unprofessional. At the bare minimum they should have contacted Rabbi Zimmerman, whose phone number would have been listed on the police report. While it's preferable to go to the scene and interview witnesses there are always alternatives if you're close to deadline. As I said, even to quote information from the police report would have been preferable to what seems like pure commentary on the part of these news outlets.
    Even a lazy reporter who cares nothing for good old fashioned "show leather" reporting could at least make a phone call.

    Lemon--terrible, terrible!

    Neshama--have a wonderful summer too :) Good to see you again.

    Kahanist--if you've ever watched The Nation of Islam television shows on public access you'd see just how much anti-semitic rantings they continue to spew, all with apparently impunity

  11. Lemon, I just re-read that Asbury Park Press article by the minister. I can't believe they published such a racist commentary. I hope they got a flood of angry letters to the editors.

  12. Believe it! It was done to increase their lagging sales.
    They did get letters on it from many lakewooders, mostly gentiles by the way.
    Lakewood has experienced its share of crime on Jews most of which goes unreported and it just sucked up by the population frankly.
    If every slight, every remark was published it would fill books. Its taken like water off a ducks back.

    If I was taking a so called short cut through a back yard (most of which are fenced actually..hmmm) and someone took my photo I would apologize and say I was just taking a short cut and would not do it again.
    Blocking having the photo taken indicates the reason is not entirely on the up and up in the first place.
    Knowing kids as I do the average 15 yr old having an old man take their photo while they trespassed they would mug for the camera really, laugh and go on their way.
    When I was a kid we had our short cuts.. they were well worn paths from years and years of kids going that way.
    Even without a rape and even without the muggings in the past few years, the robberies, etc , an unknown male on anyones property anywhere, black , white, yellow is reason for ANYONE to be concerned today.
    We live in a day of child molestation, robbery, break ins, rapes at an all time high, vandalism, etc.
    I would be concerned too if I saw a guy on my property.
    The elderly especially have a reason to be concerned.
    The kid was stupid to go prowling around in someones back yard and knowing Lakewood as I do he did NOT get beat up. Held onto, yeah I can see that.

    Beat up, no because Jews in lakewood are far too concerned with how their stories are so often twisted and turned by the media and etc. there.
    Witness the elderly Rabbi who got beat up by the policeman in Lakewood because he wanted to see his badge number!
    The story was twisted so that the young 20 or 30 something cop was beaten to a pulp by the elderly 70 something Rabbi!!!
    Who are you going to worry about on your property.. a young yeshiva bochur in black suit and hat who learns torah(bible) all day? or a kid in hip hop outfit.. backward baseball cap, low riding oversized pants and filthy logo on tee shirt who has tons of attitude?

  13. Excellent points Lemon! Is Lakewood predominantely Jewish? What's the ethnic make-up? My nieghborhood is 98-percent white based on the most recent census, so any minority prowling around private property would raise a lot of eyebrows. For that matter, a Yeshiva student would raise eyebrows also, seeing that most people are not Jewish.

    And I just can't see a rabbi being the aggressor in this situation. If his sole goal was to accost a black kid why in the world would he have tried to take his picture? I imagine the kid knew he was doing something wrong and didn't want the police to see his picture.

  14. Anonymous14/6/06

    Hashemforever-I understand that the racial slurs are "alledged" that's why I wrote "there's a good chance" racial slurs were used-in otherwords given that we are all human and can lose our tempers particularly in confrontations there's "a good chance" at least one Jewish person let a slur slip past their lips
    I see this "racism" situation as a challenge from Hashem, a test, and although it's difficult, I think we cannot succumb to racism no matter how justified we think we are, it's a matter of kiddush Hashem, we cannot afford to "lose it"- if not one slur was used and the Jews involved behaved with righteousness then great! and to heck with the media and all the other sactimonious posers,

    re: sultan knish
    yeah, Jackson and Jackson got off from our perspective-read some other perspectives and you'll find "the Jews" crucified Jesse and Michael-you know how it is zionist conspiracy and all that -blah blah blah we run Hollywood etc. etc.

    left wing people are more concerned with appearence than truth
    kind of like the question, "which is more important, that the world thinks your brillant when in fact your a moron OR the world thinks your a moron when in fact your brilliant?"
    "Liberals" are more concerned that the world thinks they are not racists than they are in actually NOT BEING racists.

    the fact is-if you call a murderer who happens to be black a "n..." that's racist, but if you call them a murderer-that is just the truth
    but what stinks is "liberals" will let a murderer free simply because someone used the "n" word OR WORSE they'll call you racist for pointing out the dark skinned murderer .

    What can we do it's crazy

    but "rightwing" people go too far the other way, they have ZERO empathy and compassion for what it is to experience racism, subtle or otherwise on a constant daily basis. What it is like to look at your good decent teenage boy and have to worry that people will harrass him simply for lingering in a store, or walking in a alleyway or driving in a predominantly white neighborhood, to have to worry that maybe your kid will lose his temper and get killed as a result.

    Jewish people should be sensitive to that-it doesn't mean we have to be bleeding heart liberals

    Jew hatred is an entity unto itself, it's changes , usually full blown Jew hatred takes awhile to form-but things are speeding up now. The very same Jews who were dark in Aryan Germany instaneously become "white"- colonialist imperialist oppressors of the dark skinned native 'palestinians' " poof! just like that-now they hate us because we are "white"
    so now it's black people's turn to hate Jews- no point hating them when everything is from Hashem

    I am not saying all this so that Jews win a popularity contest , I am just saying that we need to correct ourselves and make teshuvah to G-d. We cannot excuse ANY racism on our parts nor any insensitivity we may have to the effects of racism on others.

  15. Catlady, yes racism is wrong. I don't know that the people in question used any racial slurs but assuming they did, then what they did was wrong.

    Unfortunately liberal attempts at promoting a multicultural society have made racism worse than ever and there's a good deal of confusion over what a racist slur even is. I recall a student who shouted "Buffalo" at the window and a Washington official who used "Niggardly" having action taken against them for racial slurs.

    Worst of all it seems to have bred a culture where all someone who is otherwise in the wrong has to do, is play the race card, and all too often it's his victims who will now suffer. O.J. Simpson was treated as a victim rather than the people he killed. The same goes for Mumia Abu Jamal and Hurricane Ruben Carter amd more recently Tookie Williams.

    Treating people badly is wrong period, for whatever reason, whether it's because of race or religion or whatever. At the same time the hysteria over race has to stop too. Tolerance cannot be legislated only learned and double standards breed their own racism by example.

    I recently read a letter from an asian man who has a white girlfriend. He found himself subject daily to harrassment and racist remarks but because the people making them were black or latino, no one recognized that it was even taking place.

  16. Lakewood has a very large Jewish population.
    Lakewoods total population is almost 60,000 with about 15,000 or so being Jewish(but how can we be sure I would say larger really), of whom over 3000 alone learn in Beis Medresh Gevoha.
    It is about 25 square miles mostly truly suburban, countryish in places.
    It is 78% white, 12% black, 14% latino(not counting increasing illegals).
    The mayor is a frum Jew, Meir Lichtenstein.

  17. Being a predominantely white population I'm sure that Dickerson (the teen) whose actions were indeed very suspicious would have stuck out like a sore thumb. Also, I'd bet anything in the neighborhood where this happened the rabbi could recognize Dickerson as an outsider.
    Here in my immediate community I know virtually all of my neighbors. Last weekend we had our annual block club yard sale. And yes, when I spotted a black man walking down the street it caught my eye. not because he was black or acting suspicious but simply because I didn't recognize him.

    If the rabbi in Lakewood took Dickerson's picture he most likely did not recognize him either.



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