By now you’ve probably heard about the horrifying and brutal attack of a peaceful Black female high school student by school Police Officer Ben Fields - an officer with a history of racial profiling.1 Just hours after the incident, some media had already begun its routine character assassination of the Black student and its blind hero worshiping of the officer. The most vile of this coverage came from CNN’s Harry Houck.
Just like when he was covering the murder of Sandra Bland, Harry Houck thinks this young Black girl “had it coming.”2 That if she only respected the officer she would not have been viciously attacked.
As an ex-NYPD detective with a national platform, Harry Houck continues to pedal racist narratives that put Black lives at risk by suggesting that officers have the right to use abusive force on Black women who don’t respect them. It's an embarrassment for the network and it should embarrass corporate sponsors that their money is reinforcing for millions of viewers the both conscious and unconscious belief that Black is wrong, the police are always right, and any lack of respect for an officer by a woman of color justifies a beating or worse.
Harry Houck has a long record of victim blaming young Black people like Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and now this young Black girl at Spring Valley High School, all while blindly supporting their assailants.3 4 It is well passed time CNN dropped Harry Houck from their broadcasts and replace Harry Houck with someone capable of discussing the state of racism and prejudiced policing.
Thanks and Peace,
CNN contributor Harry Houck
is peddling racist narratives
and victim blaming Sandra Bland
for her own assault and death.
Demand CNN replace him
within someone capable of discussing
the state of racism
and prejudiced policing.
First he went after Trayvon Martin for his so called “street attitude.”5 Now he’s going after Sandra Bland for “her whole arrogant attitude.”6
We are sick of CNN contributor and former NYPD detective Harry Houck’s one-man crusade against Black victims of law enforcement violence. Houck’s blind support of police abuse and injustice is dangerous. It drives the attitudes and stereotypes that lead police officers to regularly commit brutal acts of violence directed towards Black folks.
Demand CNN replace Harry Houck with someone capable of discussing the state of racism and over-policing.
Houck has been readily granted national platforms like CNN and Fox in order to deflect attention away from the crimes committed by police. Often times, his outrageous rhetoric goes unchecked by the hosts of the shows he appears on.Meanwhile the voices of families and experts on the history of racist policing are consistently dismissed, challenged by commentators or left out of the mainstream media narrative.
When Houck said Sandra Bland wouldn’t have died if not for her “her whole arrogant attitude,” he absolved the police of any wrongdoing and reinforced for millions of viewers the both conscious and unconscious belief that Black is wrong and police are always right. It’s the same thing when members of the media argue that Mike Brown and Dajerria Becton were “no angels.”
This isn’t the first time that Houck has laid systemic injustices and racism at the feet of Black people. He has invoked the word “thug” to describe Trayvon Martin and victims of police brutality and has argued that using the word to describe Black protesters in Baltimore was justified because it’s “owned” by the Black community.7 While willfully ignoring the long and racist history of the term, he all but admits that the use of it in the media is tantamount to using a slur meant to conjure a particular image...that of a Black male. He’s also dismissed an epidemic of police harassment as “a few incidences out of millions.”
Houck is a key part of a media ecosystem that refuses to examine police abuse and the publicly condoned use of illegal force against Black people. Getting Houck and others like him off the air is critical to stopping dangerous anti-justice narratives.
Too many times we’ve seen police officers murder unarmed Black folks and claim that they were the ones whose lives were in danger. Too many times we’ve seen police spokespeople like Houck tell viewing audiences that those murders are justified and that Black people are the problem.
If we do not get Houck replaced he will continue to carry water for police at the expense of Black communities and families like Sandra Bland’s — who are still looking for answers about how a traffic stop ends in death. With the powerful platform CNN provides, Houck's dangerous, stereotypical rhetoric has the ability to shape perceptions of viewers that, when acted upon, endanger the lives of Black communities. He must be stopped.
The stakes are way too high to tolerate Harry Houck’s dangerous message any longer. This country has a racially discriminatory policing epidemic, and we need media contributors who can speak to that injustice, not peddle racist narratives and criminalize Black lives.
Demand CNN replace Harry Houck with someone capable of discussing the state of racism and prejudiced policing.
Thanks and Peace,
Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Evan, Dallas and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.
October 27, 2015
1. "Fire Officer Ben Fields" ColorOfChange
2. "CNN analyst blames black teen for being assaulted by South Carolina cop: ‘She had no respect’," Raw Story 10-27-2015
3. "Former NYPD Detective Harry Houck: Trayvon Martin Would Be Alive If He Didn't Have 'Street Attitude'" Opposing View 06-14-2013
4. "CNN panel explodes after ex-cop says Sandra Bland died because she was ‘arrogant from the beginning’," Raw Story 07-22-15
5. "Former NYPD Detective Harry Houck: Trayvon Martin Would Be Alive If He Didn't Have 'Street Attitude'" Opposing View 06-14-2013
6. "CNN panel explodes after ex-cop says Sandra Bland died because she was ‘arrogant from the beginning’," Raw Story 07-22-15
7. "CNN’s ex-cop defends not calling white bikers ‘thugs': ‘This thing started with the black community’," Raw Story 05-19-15
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