Peoria Journal Star & its community “relations”
On my previous city council campaign post, I called out Peoria megabusiness Caterpillar, Inc. for its detestable decades-long practice of enthusiastically selling bulldozers & other equipment to the apartheid Israeli military.
Next, I need to address the Peoria Journal Star for its ongoing refusal to recognize and apologize for racist reactions in the wake of the murder of Mark Clark, leader of the Peoria chapter of the Black Panther Party, by Chicago authorities, who also murdered famed Illinois BPP leader Fred Hampton, both in a police death squad house raid in December 1969.
The following summer when something like open warfare between Peoria police and the African-American community broke out over wrongful evictions at the Taft Homes, the Journal Star again blamed the victims.
For years, I have written about the racist editorials and lack of atonement at 1 News Plaza.
So it was shocking to me about a year ago when PJS executive editor Dennis Anderson claimed in a piece he wrote and initially passed off in The Guardian as news that his paper had not enjoyed a good relationship with the city’s African-American community only because of disengagement and a focus on crime and “feel good” stories.
How about an active racist antagonism to the African-American community back in the day precisely at the moment when the people needed their newspaper the most?!
Many, many people are still alive TODAY, people whose lives were adversely affected by the racist power structure in Peoria, which absolutely included the city’s paper of record. No one gets a pass because a few years have gone by.
As we all know, almost every mistake, every terrible word and action can be forgiven.
Will the Peoria Journal Star ever do right by the African-American community?
Will the Peoria Journal Star ever revisit this time and place and own up to its racism?
Some newspapers in the American South have explicitly apologized for their rolls in segregation and Jim Crow. And the Los Angeles Times recently laid bare its terrible role in the WWII ethnic cleansing and concentration camp mass emprisonment of Japanese-Americans. Atonement, even decades after the fact, is not new journalistic territory.
Instititutional responsibility, journalistic integrity and a newspaper’s relationship with its city residents demand that the Peoria Journal Star finally do the right thing.
One more issue. The feds & FBI were deeply involved in the murder of Fred Hampton & Mark Clark, especially through a dirty tricks operation called COINTELPRO.
It went so far as to feed disinformation to newspapers across the country in order to defame and slander the Black Panthers, written as genuine news and opinion pieces by the papers themselves.
So it is a fair and rational point, therefore, to ask did COINTELPRO feed the Peoria Journal Star anti-BPP propaganda which they passed on as their own reporting and opinion?
From racist garbage back in the day to negligent commentary passed off as reporting now, our hometown Peoria Journal Star has a lot of explaining to do for the African-American community and the entire city.