Charged With Same Crime, Iowa Paper Shows Black Suspects’ Mug Shots While Whites Get Yearbook Photos

An Iowa newspaper is accused of pro-white bias after it handled the same alleged crime between two different sets of suspects in radically different ways.


Blogger Rafi D’Angelo at SoLetsTalkAboutIt.com pointed out that in reports filed on successive days, the Gazette in Cedar Rapids printed mug shot photos of black burglary suspects and yearbook photos for white burglary suspects.

On March 23, the Gazette‘s Lee Hermiston reported that three University of Iowa wrestlers were arrested after being caught in possession of several items that had been stolen from local homes in Marion, Iowa. The three suspects — Ross Lembeck, Seth Gross and Logan Ryan, all 19 and white — were shown in the Gazette‘s pages in their freshman yearbook pictures, wearing matching coats and ties.

According to the Gazette, “The three wrestlers were charged with possessing alcohol under the legal age. Lembeck was charged with drunken driving. Gross was charged with interference with official acts because he fought with officers, police said. Ryan was cited and released.”

They are accused of at least seven burglaries in the area.

On the same day, Hermiston reported on four African-American suspects charged with a burglary in Coralville, Iowa. This group of suspects — Kwain E. Crawford, 36; Milton Whitehead, 50; Quentin D.W. Eatman, 24; and Curtis J. Johnson, 29 — were all pictured in their police mug shots.

The four men were charged with breaking into a residence on March 20 around 4am and assaulting the occupants. They were reportedly looking for a gun, but left instead with a TV, around $240 in cash and a cell phone.

Currently, the Gazette‘s website shows mug shots of the wrestlers, but D’Angelo obtained screen shots of the original article.

Someone on the Gazette‘s original Facebook thread about the article pointed out the disparity, only to have another commenter say, “Good point other than it’s safe to say those blacks didn’t have school pics.…”

Another commenter said, “Why are they referred to as ‘wrestlers?’ Are they wrestling in the story? I though they were burglars.”

BoingBoing’s Caroline Siede wrote, “As Rafi points out, regardless of what photos were available of the black suspects, the white suspects definitely had mugshots taken. In trying to justify the discrepancy, The Gazette explained they must make a formal request in order to get mugshots, yet they were clearly willing to take that extra step when it came to the black suspects.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close