From the Eureka Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People:
In the aftermath of the senseless and tragic killing of David Josiah Lawson, the Eureka Branch of the NAACP has been monitoring not only the criminal case as the investigation progresses, but local area media coverage as well. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of an enlightened society in his “I Have a Dream” speech. All these years later, that dream seems as far away as it has ever been and, for people of color living in Humboldt County, their experience is more fittingly associated with a nightmare. As our community endeavors to heal and make sense of what has occurred, we have been subjected to the senseless, bigoted, crass, cruel, disgusting, uneducated, rants of those who skulk in anonymity, yet are given a prominent voice by many of our local Humboldt County media outlets. Lamentably, those voices have become the voice of Humboldt County; tragically, they have come to define us.
Since current practices embolden and empower hatred and acts of hatred, and due to a demonstrated unwillingness or inability to appropriately monitor public comments made in the wake of media stories posted online, the Eureka Branch of the NAACP calls upon all local media to serve as an example of the ideals exemplified by Dr. King by immediately discontinuing the practice of posting public commentary associated with media coverage. While the concept may have a justifiable or even laudable foundation, many Humboldt County media outlets have proven incapable of demonstrating responsibility or good citizenship in this regard. We are prepared to offer the following suggestions as best practices for a more equitable and inclusive alternative to current practices:
- Outright removal of public commentary altogether.
- Strict monitoring or vetting of posts before they are viewed publicly.
- The option to post only if the identity of the poster has been confirmed through a process.
Furthermore, the Eureka Branch of the NAACP calls upon Humboldt County media outlets to take a highly visible leadership role in showcasing the very best of our community and the diversity we collectively embrace while simultaneously shining a light of truth into those dark corners where hatred and bigotry still clearly exists.
As we work collaboratively towards the goals of peace, equality, and justice, we are calling upon you to make Humboldt County an intolerable place for those who believe in and demonstrate intolerance. We strongly urge you to publicly take these affirmative and visible steps to ensure that that violence, bigotry, and hatred will not be tolerated in any form.