‘New Yorker’ Facing Fierce Criticism For Its Sympathetic Portrayal Of Darren Wilson

Journalists, #BlackLivesmatter activists and others took to Twitter Monday morning to express their disappointment at the attempt to humanize Wilson.
darren wilson hospital

On Monday morning, the New Yorker posted a lengthy piece on Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson police officer who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown one year ago this month. The killing of Brown by the white Wilson touched off an anti-police brutality protest movement, #BlackLivesMatter, that continues on today. In November, a St. Louis County grand jury decided not to indict Wilson in Brown’s death, leading to riots in Ferguson. After a subsequent non-indictment in New York’s Eric Garner case, large #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations popped up across the nation.

New Yorker writer Jake Halpern met with Wilson earlier this year to provide his side of the story and give a detailed bio of the reclusive former cop. For the most part, the piece played it extremely straight with the facts of the case and the fallout that occurred in St. Louis and across the country. However, Halpern also cast Wilson in a very sympathetic light, providing anecdotes and a family background that humanized a man that is seen by many as a symbol of white privilege and power in law enforcement.

After the piece was posted online — it will be available in print in the mag’s August 10th issue — a number of people took to Twitter to openly complain about the nature of the article and the attempt to rehabilitate Wilson’s image.

Activist Deray McKesson sent out the following tweets saying that the New Yorker probably should have assigned a black writer to the story if they wanted it to be taken seriously.



ESPN’s Bomani Jones said he thinks the magazine wants him to feel bad for Wilson.


Another activist, Johnetta Elzie, reiterated her feelings that Wilson is a murderer who is walking free.  


The Daily Kos’ Shaun King wasn’t impressed by Wilson’s statements in the profile.


The Nation’s Dave Zirin didn’t mince any words.  


Comedian Akilah Hughes just said fuck it.


Author Saladin Ahmed felt the article was “contemptible,” especially considering the magazine could have focused its attentions elsewhere regarding police violence.  


TV writer Steve Marmel also brought in recent attempts to soft-peddle the Koch Brothers into his critique.


Actor Lucas Neff took Halpern to task for calling the shooting an “incident”.  


Scientist Karen James urged her followers not to read the New Yorker piece but to instead check out one by Slate’s Jamelle Bouie.



Meanwhile, you had the other contingent of conservatives, angry white folks and police supporters expressing their disdain that Wilson has to “live in the shadows” even though he did “absolutely nothing wrong.” So it is just inevitable before we start seeing those lines cross and social media wars erupt between the two sides.

Justin Baragona is the editor and publisher of Contemptor. Prior to starting the site, he worked on the editorial staff of PoliticusUSA. During that time, he had his work quoted by USA Today and BBC News, among others. Justin began his published career as a political writer for 411Mania. He currently resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife and pets.
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