Rashawn & Beyond: Anti-Violence News for Queer People of Color

The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund aims to establish a sustainable tribute to Rashawn that promotes critical thought about the impact of violence and intolerance, particularly upon queer communities of African descent.

Through this blog, we provide action alerts, event postings and breaking news as a means of informing these communities in ways that enable them to combat racism and homophobia.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

On the New York Post Article: A Message from the RBMF

On March 20, The New York Post ran a story on a "new lead" in the investigation into Rashawn Brazell's murder. Because the RBMF shoulders the responsibilty of monitoring the case, as well as the coverage of his life and murder, we thought it was important to respond to what we see as poor journalism.

It comes as no surprise to those who follow Rashawn's story, and most New Yorkers for that matter, that the New York Post chose such a sensational title for its story ("Gay Beau Sought in Body Chop Slay"). By now, our frustration with the way the Post treats subjects who stand at the intersection of marginal identities has become commonplace. Are men who are suspected of murdering their girlfriends identified as straight in the headlines accompanying their stories? Of course not, but the Post keeps its circulation numbers up by concocting salacious headlines that normalize racism and homophobia.

While we aren't pleased with the article, we are even more troubled by its timing, and the implications therein. In monitoring the coverage of this case, we pay close attention to who covers Rashawn's story. This most recent story comes from Larry Celona, a Post reporter who covers grisly crimes across the city. He cites his source as a police representative, but for reasons unknown to us, the source seems to want to remain anonymous.

Because we are all too aware that many similar stories never get discussed in a newsroom, we remain encouraged that Rashawn's case still garners some coverage. But we must ask, why now? It is clear to us and to Desire Brazell, Rashawn's mother, that this information is not new. In fact, the police were told about the man in question within weeks of Rashawn's dissapearance last year. Surely, the police must have wanted to bring the man in for questioning at the time Rashawn's body was found. If not, that would highlight, at the very least, a serious lapse in judgment, if not responsibility, on the NYPD's end.

We also know that Ms. Brazell is planning a march on Rashawn's birthday (April 15) to the 79th precinct station house to demand answers about her son's murder. The police have asked her to cancel her march. To us, it seems all too convenient that the police would suddenly have a lead that necessitated communication with the New York Post, and not the mother of the victim. While that lead may be new to the reporter and the Post, it is all too old for Ms. Brazell and indeed the NYPD.

This leaves us with many questions and not too many answers. We at the RBMF, along with all of you who have taken an active interest in Rashawn's case, are committed to ensuring his story is told in the most straightforward and accurate manner. We also hope that the police are keeping their priorities in order and that they are not engaging in stealth PR tactics, which only serve to bolster the NYPD's cracking facade. As the cases of Immette St. Guillen and Nicole DuFresne received the appropriate amount of resources from the NYPD, we demand the same for the case of our brother, Rashawn.

Larry Lyons & Mervyn Marcano
Founders, RBMF


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