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KATU-TV covers neighborhood safety issue

Posted by on January 20th, 2007 at 10:16 pm

[Click here for full story.
Click here for the director's cut interview.]

Last night on the 11 o’clock news, KATU-TV (Portland’s ABC affiliate) ran a story titled, “Have cyclists become a target?

The KATU story aired as a direct result of the many comments received in response to the post about a pair of cyclists who were attacked by a group of teenage kids at a North Portland bus stop.

KATU’s story features an interview with myself, a woman named Shannon Winters Nichols (who was mentioned in this comment) and a snippet of the interview with victim Ashley Gorman (that originally aired on January 13th).

I think Anita did a very solid job on the story and I was pleased to hear this point made at the end:

“As for solutions, one idea is to put more police out on bikes, but right now it is just that, an idea.”

Thanks Anita for shining a light on this important neighborhood safety issue.

In addition to the story that ran on the air, the KATU website features “Related Content” that includes an unedited interview with me (I have never seen a major news outlet run unedited content so I applaud KATU for getting with the times and sharing that footage).

Check out the interview. Their questions are sort of hard to hear, but my answers are loud and clear… and I’m curious what you think about them.

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Comments
  • Anonymous January 21, 2007 at 12:34 am

    I must say I’m not really sure the media is helping here. I know Anita is on our side, but the media sells stories with conflict and a story titled ‘have cyclists become a target?’ in my opinion is really not that much better than PJs Playhouse encouraging motorists to abuse cyclists – the result will be to encourage normally law abiding people with a latent dislike for cyclists to act out their frustrations on cyclists, not the opposite.

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  • Coyote January 21, 2007 at 9:19 am

    Jonathan, well done. I was very impressed how you represented the breadth of our opinions to another media outlet.

    I was also impressed how you avoided being baited into turning this into a race thing.
    Racism may play a large part in these incidents, but TV news is not the place to explore the issue.

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  • Vladislav Davidzon January 21, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    I’m curious as to where the charge of racism first originated. Yes the attackers who had one skin color, and the victims another. That does *not* mean the incident was racially motivated.

    There surely are very clear racial tensions within our community, for very good reasons. For example, we wouldn’t jump to say that a white officer shooting a black unarmed victim is necessarily a racially-motivated incident by default. So why the jump to conclusion in this case, just because the attacker happens to be black?

    The fact is that it is very possible that race had nothing whatsoever to do with this incident. Of course the media loves to portray black people negatively, and bringing the race into the discussion will help to further prejudice our community and in turn, police officers, against blacks. This is incredibly counter-productive.

    Nor is very much being said about what could have provoked the attack. We have heard only the story of the cyclists — but perhaps the cyclist did something that caused (and perhaps even somehow justified) the attack? We do not know. Yet we pass judgement without knowing, and of course blaming race.

    Can we take a step back here?

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  • Sara January 21, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    Slav, do you think we should focus on the commonality that these incidences involved teens (a group labelled with a tendency to cause trouble) as opposed to focusing on the racial aspects? I see your point that racial comments could have been uttered even if the attack was one of pent-up teen angst and convenience rather than specifically about race. Still, I think it’s a horribly complicated issue.

    I agree that it is best to get everyone’s side of the story (as we can learn from the recent crash on Swan Island), but so far we have a set of testimony that I believe until I hear something different.

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  • Mike Myers January 21, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Vladislav—a witness at the scene reported that the attackers were using racial slurs. That was mentioned in the original news report. As for your other assertion—what, in your opinion, would have justified a young woman being beaten by three girls? Hmm? There is NO justification for what happened, no matter how much you seemingly want there to be. It would not matter if(and they definitely weren’t) the two cyclists were swastika-tattooed skinheads spouting the N-word and giving the Roman salute. The only thing that would justify the level of violence visited upon the cyclists would be self-defense–and that is not the case.

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  • Vladislav Davidzon January 21, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Just because racial slurs were said does not mean that race was the reason why these women were attacked.

    We also do not know whether this was self-defense. We have the side of the ‘victim’ but we have no knowledge whatsoever of the side of the alleged attacker.

    Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? We simply do not have the other side of the story.

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  • Sara January 21, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    I think it’s important that when someone is victimized, you don’t accuse them of lying (giving false testimony). I am sorry to bring up such a loaded point, but if someone said that they had been raped, would you look them in the eye and said you couldn’t believe them until you heard the other person’s side of the story? What if other people had seen it and confirmed it?

    I am not a legal system, I am a human. And I care about how other humans feel. These two women deserve the benefit of the doubt, as well as our sympathy.

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  • Jonathan Maus January 21, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    Vladislav,

    Whether this has to do with racism or not, the fact remains that many many people have now come forward with similar stories of being harassed and physically/verbally abused by groups of kids in North Portland.

    It’s a problem whether it involves race or not… so let’s see if there’s anything we can do to help make it better.

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  • Brad January 22, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Everyone needs to take a deep breath and chill a bit. This is a simple, run-of-the-mill crime: some local kids were out looking for trouble. Two female cyclists happened into their path by accident and became targets of opportunity. It also easily could have been an elderly white woman with a walker, a Hispanic kid on a skateboard, or an Asian jogger. I don’t think these kids really cared who they beat up. This set of circumstances resulted in a terrible assault and, with any luck, the perpetrators will be caught and the victims will recover quickly.

    All of the posturing about race, income, and gentrification is rather superfluous. I imagine you could also get plenty of stories about upper middle class white teenagers in Beaverton, Lake Oswego, and Wilsonville taunting, threatening, or frightening cyclists (with SUVs even!) if you solicit them. Sometimes, teenagers can just be anti-social jerks simply because they are teenagers. While NoPo is going through a transition, historically it has always been a higher crime and poverty area. You are going to see and hear about this more often as a different class of people (“vulnerable homeowners” anyone?) move into NoPo. It makes for good headlines. In a way, it is no different than when housepets go missing in areas that were the exclusive domain of coyotes and cougars until subdivisions were built. Is it a concern? Yes. Does it mean you and your kids shouldn’t move to “The Orchards of Stony Creek at Forest Heights” because of an omnipresent carnivore danger? No – unless you blindly believe the media’s breathless coverage of “Mountain Lion Menace” at 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00. Just because a neighborhood is “up and coming” according to hipsters and real estate agents does not mean that the area will change overnight because everyone else on your block is white, votes Democrat, drinks Starbuck’s, and likes foreign films just like you. There were problems before and there will be problems for some time to come. The pool of potential victims has become more diverse.

    My heart goes out to these two women but I think folks are getting too worked up about this solely on the basis that it happened to cyclists. Where was this outrage a few years ago before the galleries and espresso joints?

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  • tonyt January 22, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    So you say that “posturing” about gentrification is superfluous and then you do it in the last paragraph? hmm. One person’s posturing is another person’s position I suppose.

    I agree though that I think these are more run-of-the-mill assaults than they are evidence of a larger shift toward cyclists as targets or ground-swell of discontent. If anything, I imagine that word on the street is that cyclists are just easy targets.

    I think we should just be emphasizing be-aware more than be-afraid. While outreach can never hurt, in the meantime I think more than anything we’re working ourselves into a frenzy, while we should be calming each other down.

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  • Brad January 22, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    I should have fleshed out the final paragraph better. Five years ago, if a local kid was riding his bike in NoPo and a few local toughs knocked him off and gave him a beating that was just treated as life in the ‘hood. No police report, no media coverage.

    Now, two whites get similar treatment and it’s a firestorm of outrage, liberal guilt, fear, self-loathing, and racial division. My point is that gentrification and any subsequent racial tension probably did not cause this attack. Similar crimes were already happening but now everyone wants to find a rationale for it rather than apply Occam’s Razor.

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  • tonyt January 22, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    agreed.

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