I would like to apologize for recently reposting a story from a Wallingford Facebook page regarding an incident between an African-American teenager and an employee of a local business. According to the story as posted by the young man’s mother, the employee had used a racial slur, which led to altercation and the police being called.
When I originally posted the story, I reposted the account provided by young man’s mother along with a note pleading with people NOT to take their anger out on the company the man worked for, since they had not been given a chance to respond (at the time I as reposting, the firm had already received a slew of negative reviews on Yelp related to the incident.)
What I did not do, and should have done was:
- Contact the woman who had posted the account for permission and consent to repost her story
- Contact the company the man worked for to get their comment
- Contact the man involved in the story for his side of the story
- Seek to contact the other people that allegedly saw the incident
- Make clear that the story was, at the time of publishing, uncorroborated
This was negligent and irresponsible of me, and I am ashamed of it. I am also ashamed of how long it has taken me to post this apology. Honestly, I let my shame delay facing the responsibility of posting this apology. I am sorry.
When the original Facebook post was removed, and it became clear that no corroborating evidence to the young man’s story would emerge, I removed the original post and put a brief summary of what happened in its place. You can read that here. My fellow editor, Katy, followed up by posting an update on the situation that was provided by the company, Artisan Electric, that the man in question works for. Again, I should have corrected my error earlier, and I thank Katy for taking the initiative.
In summary of the summary: the police and Artisan Electric have concluded that “there is no evidence our employee used offensive language or physically assaulted anyone.” The young man’s family has declined a meeting with Artisan Electric, for which one can imagine any number of reasons (and I imagine we will all bring our preconceptions to our imaginings). While this is different than concluding that the young man manufactured or creatively altered the story, if we are to respect “innocent until proven guilty”, then this is absolutely a confirmation of the man’s innocence.
Again, I want to apologize to all involved for elevating this issue without prior investigation. This is a blog, not a newspaper. Neither I, nor my fellow editors or writers, are paid for what we do here (virtually everything collected from sponsorship left over after expenses has gone to FamilyWorks since the relaunch.) Nonetheless, I should have recognized that if I’m going to wield the megaphone, I have a responsibility to do it responsibly and basic journalistic standards need to be applied when dealing with issues of gravity.