Reading abt Ma’Khia Bryant & those who think she deserved state execution bc she had a knife, I am reminded of when I pitched a sad story I wanted to write at a @villagevoice staff mtg, abt a mentally ill Black woman who was killed by the NYPD.

It was a low point of my career.
When I said the woman was mentally ill and homeless & deserved a health intervention other than police, the Voice EIC, @TonyOrtega94 SCREAMED at me. SCREAMED at the top of his lungs that if you had a knife and the cops show up you, you were going to be killed.
Ortega was easily the most abusive editor I have ever had. And all these years later, I still remember the humiliation of him screaming at me in front of the staff on that day. How could I be so stupid, he screamed, not to get that the woman deserved to be killed by the cops?
The rage he had at how I was wasting their time with that pitch.

So, the mentally ill woman was killed and got little press coverage but a short write up in the tabs.

My humiliation was nothing compared to her murder—but my experience is informative.
When journos don't have compassion abt ppl killed by the state (or even rigor to further explore what the state said it did), it robs the dead & their readers of their humanity.

& when editors accept state execution for alleged crimes, they rob writers of their humanity, too.
And so, there was never a Voice story abt that woman, her mental illness or how she became homeless. Not abt what the city may have done in that moment or to prevent such a moment from ever happening.

The state execution of a Black woman was not newsworthy bc she had a knife.
These kinds of experiences affect what people pitch, how journalism gets made. Having seen how viciously I was rebuked for even pitching such an idea, I imagine everyone in that room would likely think twice abt pitching a story abt mental illness & police killings for some time.
You can follow @thrasherxy.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.

Latest Threads Unrolled: