Newsletter #172: “I Don’t Want to Shoot You, Brother”


Happy Thursday, welcome to December, thank you for opening today’s issue, and please stop what you’re doing and read this week’s lead article, “I Don’t Want to Shoot You, Brother.” Focusing on the police shooting of a young Black man, the article won’t be easy to read. But I highly recommend it.

(Today’s other pieces — on hate crimes, Confederate defenders, and school desegregation — are good, too. Please enjoy!)

Today is HHH #8! We’re meeting up at Room 389 at 5:30 pm. I can’t wait to see everyone, chat about the articles, and dole out prizes. If you’re still on the fence, jump off and get a free ticket.

“I Don’t Want to Shoot You, Brother”

Two years ago, in the middle of the night, in a small town in West Virginia, R.J. Williams, a 23-year-old Black man — drunk and suffering from anxiety, upset he couldn’t see his son — told his ex-girlfriend he was going outside to threaten the police with an unloaded gun, hoping they’d kill him.

Tragically, Mr. Williams’s wish came true. The Weirton police shot and killed him. But the first officer on the scene, Stephen Mader, a white man, a former Marine trained in de-escalation, chose not to fire his weapon, even after Mr. Williams refused to drop his gun. This is the story of what happens to a police officer who makes a decision not to kill. (50 min)

Listen to reporter Joe Sexton tell the story from his perspective. (47 min)

Want to share your thoughts about this article? Hit reply, leave a voice memo, or see me tonight at HHH #8.

How to Solve a Hate Crime

Hate crimes are on the rise. This excellent article follows the New York Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force, which has a long track record of resolving “bias incidents.” You’ll learn a ton, including why these cases are tough to crack, who the typical offender is, which states don’t have hate crimes laws, and how the HCTF relies on sketchy methods to bring people to justice. (31 min)

Keeping the Confederacy Alive

Meet Frank Earnest, who blames “nutty liberals” for tricking people into thinking that slavery led to the Civil War. An ardent defender of Confederate monuments, Mr. Earnest relies on his eighth grade civics textbook, published in Virginia in 1957, for the truth on “the struggle for Southern independence.” If you try to change his views, he’ll amiably remind you he’s not racist (“I don’t tolerate the Klan”) and remind you that none of his ancestors owned slaves. (32 min)

Dis-Integration: Will a Texas District Resegregate After 50 Years of Gains?

Because white parents don’t want their children learning with kids of color, schools don’t integrate on their own. Since 1970, when a federal court ordered Longview Independent School District to desegregate, the Board of Education has implemented successful initiatives to provide an equitable education for its students. Now that the order has been lifted, will the district succeed without it? (20 min)

Last week’s article on fake news struck a chord. Did anyone quit Facebook in response? (Me neither.) Loyal reader Anne used the article with her students. Others wanted to learn more about Christopher Blair, aka “The Godfather of Fake News.” Here you go.

Thank you for reading this week’s issue of The Highlighter. Please hit reply or use the thumbs below to tell me what you thought. Also, let’s welcome this week’s 14 new subscribers: Blacgurl, Ron, Ali, Paul, Desi, Olivia, Rich, Mark, Phillip, Aydoğan, Zeina, Jo, Colin, and Ted. I’m happy you’re here.

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