A Houstonian? What a novel headline…

Posted on Friday 6 October 2006

From the Houston Chronicle this morning:

Houstonian tied to 5 slayings

A Houston man is connected to at least five recent killings — including the slaying of a 15-year-old Hurricane Katrina evacuee — all stemming from a battle over narcotics trafficking, police said.

Antonio Lee Williams, 26, was charged with capital murder and two other murder counts. Houston police detectives also linked him to a double slaying.

I’m sure the editors at the Chronicle don’t read Polimom, but it’s hard to avoid seeing a connection between this post (and dialogue) and that headline.

Did it catch your eye? And if so, why?

From an AP article last night, it seems Williams is suspected in seven murders altogether:

HOUSTON (AP) — A Houston man is charged or suspected in at least seven homicides in 11 weeks stemming from what authorities describe as a war between entrenched Houston drug dealers and their newly arrived rivals from New Orleans.


Homicide investigator Sgt. Bobby Roberts said the killings were the result of a turf war between Houston-based drug dealers operating in apartment projects in the area and Katrina evacuees trying to take over the business.

Fascinating. Seven murders is a pretty significant number in the larger murder statistic. Reminds me of B-Stupid, in fact…

So does this mean that the largest newspaper in town is going to start drawing some lines between perpetrators and victims, and where they’re from?

I suppose one could make the argument that those poor Houston drug dealers wouldn’t have been compelled to start killing if those mean ole evacuees hadn’t put them under so much pressure…. and one could also argue that those poor drug dealers who were forced to re-start their businesses here were just trying to get by.

Of course, those would be pretty bizarre positions to take — because the truth is, Houston had plenty of criminals, the storm brought some more, and the confluence brought it all out in the open….which is what many of us have been saying all along.

But I have to tell you, that headline was like a breath of fresh air.

    October 6, 2006 | 11:06 am

    But I have to tell you, that headline was like a breath of fresh air.

    I suspect the Katrician community would agree with you. :)

    Seriously, in this instance the ‘point of origin’ of the perp was totally relevant to the story (it provided context), as was the POI of the various factions in the drug war (for the same reason.)


    October 6, 2006 | 11:27 am

    I know you don’t believe it, but the demographic information of criminals is important and newsworthy. If this social group or that doesn’t want to be spotlighted, wouldn’t it be more productive for them to stop committing crimes rather than complain that the facts are being reported?

    October 6, 2006 | 12:12 pm

    I don’t think the criminal elements of a demographic group care about spotlighting nearly so much as those who are part of the same group but are not criminals.

    The more I think about this headline, the more it seems strange. We’ve seen lots of statistics about the impact of the evacuees on crime, which say “x murders in Houston, and evacuees were involved in x of those, as either victims or perpetrators”

    The striking nature of this headline might almost lead one to assume that this was the first time a Houstonian was the perpetrator, though. Why else would it have stood out?

    …. which takes me right back to where we were in the other dialogue, marc. If you’re going to report on one group, you should report them all or it radically skews the perspective. I think it’s particularly true for crime and the Katrina evacuees, given the furor the subject has raised all over the city, in all communities.

    October 7, 2006 | 7:30 am

    Polimom – as I mentioned above, the point of origin in the headline was relevant. This is especially true given the recent rash of publicity surrounding crimes committed by so-called “Katricians” against the “native” population (which I find ironic, given that “Native Houstonian” is almost an oxymoron.)

    I am in agreement with you on your response to marc, though – the ones who are complaining about ‘spotlighting’ are not the ones who are committing the crimes. This is just as true of other groups within the community (e.g. Muslims, African-Americans, Hispanics, etc.)


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