Asians Bleed a Lot: Racial Violence in Rochester

The newspaper of record in Rochester is sorry about the 1,000 cases of black on Asian violence over the last several years. Specifically, the editors are not apologizing for ignoring the racial violence, which they did for years, but for finally writing about it after it became too bloody and blatant to pretend it was not happening.

The June report in the Democrat & Chronicle that prompted the journalistic second guessing featured interviews with public officials and immigrants who gave details of the unrelenting racial violence visited upon recent immigrants from Nepal and Burma, all by black people in Rochester.

The story was “meant to be an honest representation rather than an attempt to give offense — or give credence to inappropriate and incendiary statements,” said the editors.

In between worrying about the hurt feelings of the people responsible for the violence, the paper reported on this several-year rolling race riot with a curiously muted tone. Let’s pick up the story from Democrat & Chronicle reporter Jon Hand, who is talking about an immigrant whose father -- and just about everyone else he knows -- have been the victims of constant beating, robbery, taunting, and bullying.

The violent and misplaced anger he feels toward African Americans has been building for years in this small community of perhaps a few thousand South Asian refugees…  The anger is fueled, he and more than a dozen other residents interviewed say, by hundreds of incidents of robbery and violent and verbal bullying in recent years.

And for Khadka and his brother, the sight of their injured father crystallizes that rage into a single clear, terrible and inappropriate thought — a thought that pays no mind to the many American complexities surrounding race and class:

They wanted to go to war with the black community.

The problem, said the paper, is the immigrants do not know enough about the “complexities surrounding race and class.”

Bill Wischmeyer works with these immigrants. He recently re-posted a Facebook comment from an Asian victim:

"I want to know why isn't that Rochester police didn't do nothing again hate crime toward us immigration or refugee...a lot of Nepalese people getting beat up lately and they still don't do nothing in the past 3 year...all they said is stay away from them..."

Wischmeyer tells the rest of the story: “What he told me was that a couple of African American youth approached his brother, pulled out a gun and shot his brother in the stomach THANK GOD it was a BB Gun. And all the police said was stay away from them?”

The reaction from black leaders in Rochester is also strangely casual.

The former police chief, James Sheppard, who is black, told the Democrat & Chronicle the immigrants will  “eventually acclimate” to their new “harsh environment.”

"Any time you have an immigrant group come in they stand out, particularly in your depressed neighborhoods," Sheppard said. "They may dress different, they may talk different, they tend not to fight back and so that just made them easy victims, easy to identify and the fact that they didn't call police that just made it happen more often."

Asian immigrants say they stopped calling the police because the police stopped taking reports.

Sherry Walker-Cowart runs the Center for Dispute Resolution. She was not aware that black people were reportedly assaulting Asians by the hundreds, if not thousands, in her small town. She told the Democrat & Chronicle: "Some of it is naiveté, some of it is prejudice, you know, and prejudice really comes from ignorance."

In case you thought you misread this, you did not: She said the Asians are naive because they do not know enough to racially profile their fellow residents and avoid the relentless racial violence that plagues them night and day. And others in Rochester as well.

Marlin Newburn is calling bull on that. All of it. Newburn has been on the front lines of racial violence for 30 years, more recently as a prison psychologist.

“The comments by the newspaper and these people in authority are blatantly ignorant and predator-enabling,” Newburn said. “Black predators know they will never be held accountable for any outrageous or violent action, and they are completely conditioned to understand that someone will stand in front of a reporter or TV camera and make excuses for them. They know they're protected, nationwide."

So what happens after reporters and police chiefs spend a lifetime excusing predator pathology? “Black street predators are a completely infantalized population living their preferred lifestyle. They know they will never be held accountable for their savagery, and thus they will never change - or grow up," Newburn argued. "They also believe that life is a party where promiscuity, drug and alcohol use, theft, and any other destructive impulsive behavior they choose to engage in us a legitimate lifestyle.”

“These community authority figures are insuring it will continue, and the newspaper’s wildly convoluted reasoning is just icing on the insanity cake,” he said.

Colin Flaherty is the award-winning author of White Girl Bleed a Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It.


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