WHAT KILLED AIYANA STANLEY-JONES?
Former NY Times Pulitzer winner, Charlie Le Duff, writes about the death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones. But the story is about a zillion more things than the single tragedy of a little girl being killed when Detroit SWAT burst into the wrong apartment and shots for reasons that are still not adequately explained, except that the cops were busy filming a reality show, so maybe got over-hyped up on the Hollywood drama.
Le Duff, who has long been able to write like an angel when he wants to, (and he wants to here), has also woven into the story’s causal threads the multi-leveled miseries of Detroit, as he writes about what one tragedy can teach us about the unraveling of America’s middle class.
Look: you just need to read the thing.
Here is how it opens:
IT WAS JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT on the morning of May 16 and the neighbors say the streetlights were out on Lillibridge Street. It is like that all over Detroit, where whole blocks regularly go dark with no warning or any apparent pattern. Inside the lower unit of a duplex halfway down the gloomy street, Charles Jones, 25, was pacing, unable to sleep.
His seven-year-old daughter, Aiyana Mo’nay Stanley-Jones, slept on the couch as her grandmother watched television. Outside, Television was watching them. A half-dozen masked officers of the Special Response Team—Detroit’s version of SWAT—were at the door, guns drawn. In tow was an A&E crew filming an episode of The First 48, its true-crime program. The conceit of the show is that homicide detectives have 48 hours to crack a murder case before the trail goes cold. Thirty-four hours earlier, Je’Rean Blake Nobles, 17, had been shot outside a liquor store on nearby Mack Avenue; an informant had ID’d a man named Chauncey Owens as the shooter and provided this address.
The SWAT team tried the steel door to the building. It was unlocked. They threw a flash-bang grenade through the window of the lower unit and kicked open its wooden door, which was also unlocked. The grenade landed so close to Aiyana that it burned her blanket. Officer Joseph Weekley, the lead commando—who’d been featured before on another A&E show, Detroit SWAT—burst into the house. His weapon fired a single shot, the bullet striking Aiyana in the head and exiting her neck. It all happened in a matter of seconds.
“They had time,” a Detroit police detective told me. “You don’t go into a home around midnight. People are drinking. People are awake. Me? I would have waited until the morning when the guy went to the liquor store to buy a quart of milk. That’s how it’s supposed to be done.”
But the SWAT team didn’t wait. Maybe because the cameras were rolling, maybe because a Detroit police officer had been murdered two weeks earlier while trying to apprehend a suspect. This was the first raid on a house since his death……
KPCC REACHES OUT TO INMATE FAMILIES TO EXPLORE THE IMPACT OF LONG AND FREQUENT LOCKDOWNS IN CALIFORNIA PRISONS
This is a chronic problem that has gotten worse with the state’s budget woes, as prison dorms and cell blocks are repeatedly put on lockdown after lockdown as a way of saving money in the face of staff cuts (in addition to all the other reasons that prisons are put on lockdown, sometimes questionably, often for way too long.).
Lockdowns mean no visits from family, no phone calls, restricted movement or activities—meaning little or no yard time or anything else that might be deemed constructive or rehabilitative.
I hear about lockdowns all the time anecdotally from family of inmates or from the inmates themselves (once the lockdown is lifted). But there is virtually no reporting on the phenomenon.
So to gather information, KPCC’s Sharon McNary is putting out the word on the web to families:
If you live, work or have loved ones in a California state prison, please help our reporters understand the impact of inmate lockdowns from your perspective.
What do you know about the causes and fallout of prison lockdowns? Who is helped or harmed when the movement, phone access, visitation and other activities of thousands of inmates are restricted for weeks, sometimes months at a time?
Your responses are confidential, nothing you share here is aired or published without your permission. A reporter or producer may call or write for more information.
I look forward to the stories that will come out of this reporting.
THE DAILY BEAST MARRIES NEWSWEEK? UM, OKAY, I GUESS.
Here is the wedding announcement issued by DB’s Tiny Brown:
Some weddings take longer to plan than others. The union of The Daily Beast and Newsweek magazine finally took place with a coffee-mug toast between all parties Tuesday evening, in a conference room atop Beast headquarters, the IAC building on Manhattan’s West 18th Street. The final details were only hammered out last night.
What does this exciting new media marriage mean? It means that The Daily Beast’s animal high spirits will now be teamed with a legendary, weekly print magazine in a joint venture, named The Newsweek Daily Beast Company, owned equally by Barry Diller’s IAC and Sidney Harman, owner (and savior) of Newsweek. As for me, I shall now be in the editor-in-chief’s chair at both The Daily Beast and Newsweek….
And so on.
As media theorist and prof Jay Rosen tweeted last night after the announcement: “Still waiting for the media reporter who would explain the logic.”
Yeah, I’m kinda there with Rosen on that matter.
Meanwhile, an amusing trending topic on Twitter Thursday night was #oddmediamergers.
JON STEWART AND RACHEL MADDOW FOR AN HOUR
As you likely know—or at least you oughta know—Jon Stewart was on the Rachel Maddow Show for nearly an hour Thursday night.
The full hour video may be found here.
I found it riveting.
A NOTE ABOUT THE ABOVE PHOTO: After spending nearly four months in a dogless household following the death of my beautiful 16 1/2 year old wolf dog this past July, I decided it was time to add a new four-footed beast to the family before I got too used to clean rugs and not having to wipe off muddy paws during the rainy season. Enter Lily-the-mini-wolf, who is 8 weeks old as of Thursday and has been residing at my house since late Saturday night.
She and her litter-mates were snatched by a rescue agency from a horrid circumstance involving idiots breeding 50-plus half-starved wolf-dogs in a single house, Lily being one of the 50. She somehow lost half of her tail in the awful place.
I fell in love with the little creature instantly.
Life—in spite of the not sleeping issue and the mistaking of the laptop cord for a chew toy issue—is decidedly better with a new puppy in the house.
(The cat’s a bit unsure about the addition. But he’s coping.)
Anyway, so there you have it. Thank you for listening.