Reporters Sleep as 60 Black People Rob a BART Train in Oakland
The "weekend cops" beat is not the most glorious job in journalism, but it is the easiest. All you have to do is check into the newsroom, grab a portable scanner, go to breakfast, visit the cop shop, ask a few questions, check the police blotter, eat lunch, scribble a few paragraphs about a car accident, then meet your fellow scribes for an after-work libation.
But you do have to do one thing. Always listen to the police scanner.
Every newspaper has its own horror story. The one related to me during my first turn on the cop beat in Colorado Springs was about the weekend reporter who thought he would turn off his scanner while he played some basketball.
The next day, the owner wanted to know how his newspaper failed to report on the major train crash near downtown, the largest of its kind in that city's history.
Maybe that is why all the weekend cop reporters in the San Francisco Bay area did not hear any police scanner traffic Saturday night at 9:30, when 60 black people rampaged through a BART train, robbing, beating, threatening, and laughing – always laughing.
Because not one word of this leaked out for 36 hours.
The San Francisco Chronicle began dribbling out the details Monday morning:
... witnesses said 40 to 60 juveniles flooded the station, jumped the fare gates and rushed to the second-story train platform. Some of the robbers apparently held open the doors of a Dublin-bound train car while others streamed inside, confronting and robbing and in some cases beating riders.
The juveniles "committed multiple strong-arm robberies of bags and cell phones," said a police summary prepared after the incident. "At least two victims suffered head/facial injuries requiring medical attention."
Alicia Trost, a BART spokeswoman, said Monday that seven robberies had occurred – with victims losing a purse, a duffel bag, and five phones. Six people were robbed inside the train car, with a seventh confronted on the platform, she said.
Not one of the reporters for any of the dozens of news outlets in that area mentioned the central organizing feature of the "teens": they were black. Tons of Bay area law enforcement officials say so.
After they rampaged through the train, this black mob retreated into their East Oakland neighborhood – you know, the one that is widely reported to be the "backbone of African American life and culture in Oakland."
The same neighborhood black activists want to save from the gentrifiers because Black Panther Huey Newton slept there.
To their credit, I suppose, most of the reporters knew better than to ask for video of the attack: last year, it was revealed that most of the cameras on the BART system were fake. BART officials are still thinking about replacing them with real ones.
Fake cameras. Fake reporters. They kind of go together.
Even the most cursory search of crime reports and news stories reveals what everyone in that area knows: BART is a center of black violence on wheels and official denial in abundance.
Two years ago, the local media were aflame with reports of racism after it was revealed that BART Watch, an app where riders could report just this kind of criminality, was in fact a tool promoting white racism: most of the complaints about criminal behavior on BART said the offender was black.
Black people make up 10 percent of the riders but 70 percent of the complaints – which, of course, matches the percentage of crime as well.
The East Bay Express led the way in expressing outrage at this transparent case of racial profiling:
The data shows that BART riders report Blacks for both alleged crimes and non-crimes at disproportionate rates compared to other racial or ethnic groups, and that people perceived as being homeless are also being targeted with a high number of complaints, often for sleeping, smelling bad, and other non-crimes.
BART police representatives told the Express that the app has become a valuable tool, but human rights advocates say the way it's being used by the public is cause for concern.
"Society conspires to marginalize people," said Zachary Norris, executive director of the Ella Baker Center. "With this app, you see the criminalization of poverty and racial profiling all put together."
As for the idea that black crime is wildly out of proportion, that is simply not true, because everyone knows that black neighborhoods are over-policed. And that produces higher crime rates. QED.
The San Francisco Chronicle, which never met a story of white racism against black people it did not like, censors comments on its message board, where the locals state the obvious: BART has a big trouble with black violence criminality. And not the kind featured in the movie Fruitvale Station, where racist white cops kill black people on BART in Oakland for no reason whatsoever.
But other comments explaining the violence are welcome: "In all seriousness guys, this is what happens when a large portion of the population suddenly can't afford to live in a place," said one of the Bay area's millions of amateur criminal sociologists. "Until we fix that issue, crime like this will continue."
Others blamed Trump: "This is Trump's world...The huge inequality between the rich and the poor has created this mess."
Still others knew that the real reason was the not the black predators feeling so comfortable on BART, but the (largely white) riders themselves: "Why would anybody bring valuables or wallets on BART with them? Foolhardy riders are not BART's fault."
If that guy could learn to play basketball, he'd be a great police reporter in Oakland.
Colin Flaherty is the author of the #1 Amazon bestseller Don't Make the Black Kids Angry. You can find his videos of black violence and denial at Colin Flaherty's YouTube channel.