Saturday, June 7, 2008

Outrage over Ohio police attack on Long Walkers

Incoming letters to Censored News, published with permission:
To: Brenda Norrell
Thank you for writing the story about the Long Walkers and Columbus Police. I am infuriated that the Columbus Dispatch did not cover the story. Below is the communication I shared with them. Please keep for your records in case you ever need them. The emails are copied and pasted below in chronological order. Thanks for your courage and dedication to Indian Country and for enlightening us all. I am a proud Ohioan and deeply ashamed that Columbus Police treated the Walker this way. (--Name withheld by request)
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Subject:Ohio police attack Long Walkers Date:6/4/2008
To: Columbus Dispatch
Greetings, Ms. Clease, I wasn't sure who to contact, so please redirect this email if needed. Did the Columbus Dispatch cover the story below written by Brenda Norrell, a highly respected journalist? If so, could you direct me to it? It's an important story which, unfortunately, constitutes harassment and is an embarrassment to Ohioans and to our state.

From: Columbus Dispatch
We did not report on the Long Walk. Carol Ann Lease
City Editor
Columbus Dispatch
To: Columbia Dispatch
Hi Carol, Thanks for answering. May I respectfully ask why this incident wasn't reported in the Dispatch? This seems like a newsworthy topic and certainly a topic of national interest considering that governors from other states supported the march. I'm sorry to bother you about this, but it means a lot to me. While I'm also a journalist (although nowhere in your league), I consider this topic worthy of local coverage. Can you enlighten me? Thanks,Gina
To: Columbia Dispatch
What I am asking is, WHY didn't the Dispatch consider this incident worthy of a news article? Peaceful Americans walking across country on a spiritual mission, supported by governors from other states, attacked in Columbus for no reason whatsoever? And yes, I'm asking the Dispatch to write a news article about it because it DESERVES to be reported.

From: Columbia Dispatch
In a message dated 6/6/2008 10:09:43 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
clease@dispatch.com writes: I'm sorry. I wasn't clear. I meant that, since you mentioned you are a journalist, I was asking if you plan to write about this. Because I wanted to let my bosses know if I was going to be quoted somewhere.
As a journalist, you know that editors make decisions every day on what to write about. Reasonable minds can, and often do, disagree on those judgment calls.
Carol Ann Lease
City Editor
Columbus Disptach
Hi Carol,
I haven't written about this for two reasons: Brenda Norrell already wrote about it, and she is a far better writer and journalist than I will ever be. The second reason is that, in my opinion, it was the Columbus Dispatch's responsibility to write an article about it since this event happened on your turf.
You are perfectly right about "judgement calls," and I respect your right to do so. However, Columbus police harassing and attacking peaceful marchers on a cross-country walk is NOT a small story. By not reporting the incident, one might assume the Dispatch cares little about Native People, is prejudice against Native People, is protecting the Columbus Police and city's reputation, wants to cover the whole thing up, and/or just doesn't care -- period. This is how I see it.
Unfortunately, the Dispatch remained silent while Brenda Norrell did the talking. Thank goodness she picked up the ball -- now the rest of us are aware of this story.
I will be writing about the Columbus event and my experience with the Dispatch in an upcoming Native Village News edition. Our supporters and readers include people recognized and honored by the United Nations, governments, and peace organizations. Some have won Emmys and Grammys. I say this not to brag but to let you that influential people sometimes care what everyday "Joes" like me have to say. Thanks goodness for that, because mainstream media has sorely let us down.

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About Censored News
Censored News was created in response to censorship by Indian Country Today. Censored News publisher Brenda Norrell was a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, when she was censored repeatedly and terminated in 2006. Now in its 9th year with no advertising, grants or sponsors, Censored News continues as a labor of love, a service to grassroots Indigenous Peoples and human rights advocates.

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 33 years, beginning at Navajo Times during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation. She served as a stringer for AP and USA Today on the Navajo Nation and later was based in Tucson and traveled with the Zapatistas in Mexico.

After being blacklisted by all the paying media, Norrell has continued to work without pay, providing live coverage with Earthcycles from Indian lands across the US, including live coverage of the Longest Walk, with the five month live talk radio across America in 2008.