Last week a mistrial was declared due to a hung jury in the case against two Palo Alto cops who beat up a homeless man. Yes, race was at issue, since it was Palo Alto and the homeless man was black. The twist inserted into this story by the Palo Alto Online News is that the two cops were Chinese American, and the jury split along racial lines: the eight non-Asian jurors voted to convict, and the four Asian jurors voted to acquit.
Most of the jurors' questions hinged around the issue of whether or not the cops had a right to detain the homeless man, who hadn't committed a crime (he was sleeping in his car.) Neighbors had called in a complaint, the man had spooked a woman in a nearby car, and the cops claimed that they felt threatened by the man's behavior when they attempted to question him. However, whether this all constitutes a legal cause to detain the man is very much in question.
Of the eight convicting jurors, one was African American and the rest "appeared" to be white. Of the four acquitting jurors, two were Chinese, one was Filipino, and one was Vietnamese.
The strange thing about the article referenced above is that it makes an issue of the race of the acquitting jurors, yet none of the participants interviewed accused them of racial bias. The prosecutor raised the issue of race in the complaints against and possible detention of a black homeless man, pointing out that residents of that white neighborhood would routinely call in complaints about black men. But again, no one directly accused the Asian American jurors of favoring the cops, or possibly discounting the homeless man, on the basis of race.
Yet, though there are no direct accusations, there's the indirect accusation made by not accusing. You know, creating an insinuation out of nothing. "Oh, the rumors about his pedophilia are completely unfounded ...", while a true statement of someone about whom there are no rumors of pedophilia, is intended to mislead, and suffices to both accuse and convict someone of pedophilia.
Likewise in this article, the statement by the defense attorney is taken entirely out of context: "To call [the acquitting jurors] all Asians is a little bit misleading. My discussions with them is they looked at the facts and the law and didn't believe the D.A. proved his case." We can assume that he uttered this howler in response to a question from the reporter regarding the racial issue of the jurors. Yet the fact that he said it at all seems to indicate that the race of the jurors was an issue completely on its own. However, if the reporter created the issue out of thin air, simply by asking the question, how would we know?
The above statement, coming together with a quote from Sunday Udoffia, the sole black juror ("There was not even a chance that those four (would) change their mind") appears pretty damning, although you'll notice that Udoffia made no reference to race whatsoever.
It's possible that the article is just poorly written, or that the reporter was responding to definite complaints of racism in the jury, which then evaporated when the reporter asked direct questions. On the other hand, the vagueness, the mistiness of this article's premise and point, could also be the effects of the wool being pulled over our eyes. How would we ever know?
And what's the point of making misty spins in the internet air, you ask. Well, had you ever heard of the Palo Alto Online News before this? Neither had I. And yet know I'm linking to their website. Racism sells news.