Episode 03: The Rise of Superpredator 2.0

The great gang hype is upon us.

Welcome to Episode 3 of our new media criticism podcast, Citations Needed.

The show is hosted by Adam Johnson and Nima Shirazi, media analysts working to call bullshit on (usually corporate) media’s ubiquitous reliance on and regurgitation of false and destructive narratives, tropes and stereotypes.

Episode 3 is about the media narrative surrounding the rise of so-called “gang raids” that have exploded over the past three years. These high-stakes, headline-grabbing spectacles target, almost exclusively, black and brown people and are carried out by hundreds of local, state, and federal officials.

Emails obtained by Atlantic City Lab’s George Joseph (now at Demos.org) make clear that media perception is, at least, one major criteria for these raids. Joseph wrote in February:

As one ICE officer excitedly wrote, the operation “has more media interest than I can catalogue and the story was picked up worldwide.”

Another internal email by an ICE official insisted, “the operation has more media interest than I can catalogue and the story was picked up worldwide.”

That which the government frames as a media operation should be dissected as such. In addition, local media is literally copy and pasting ICE press releases when “reporting” on their raids, often lifting 4-5 paragraphs word for word from government-issued copy. The virtue and necessity of the uptick in “gang raids” is widely accepted without much criticism.

One activist and reporter looking at this trend with a skeptical eye is our guest Josmar Trujillo, who has endless insights on the topic.

Josmar Trujillo is a Harlem-based organizer, writer, trainer, and agitator.

Josmar has organized around education, disaster recovery and policing with groups like the Coalition to End Broken Windows and New Yorkers Against Bratton. His writing has been featured in the Village Voice, New York Daily News, amNY, City Limits, Newsday, Crain’s, Truthout, Huffington Post, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), and SchoolBook.

Show Notes

Here’s some stuff mentioned or referenced during the show, or related to the topic in general. You know, in case you wanted to dig deeper.

Media Convicts Scores of ‘Gang Members’ on NYPD’s Say-So — No Trials Necessary

Adam Johnson | May 2, 2016 | FAIR

Brooklyn’s Wrongful Convictions Persist With ‘Gang’ Cases

Josmar Trujillo | July 8, 2017 | Huffington Post

The Media is Spreading Immigration Propaganda

Gabriela Del Valle | May 1, 2017 | The Outline

Calming down from the gang panic: We’re already too aggressive in attacking kids with supposedly criminal associations

Josmar Trujillo | June 8, 2017 | New York Daily News

With Nighttime Raids, Police Wage War on Black and Brown Families in New York

Ashoko Jegroo | March 31, 2017 | Truthout

Footage of the Largest Gang Raid in NYPD History Reveals the Agency’s Military-Style Tactics

Simon Davis-Cohen | September 1, 2016 | The Nation

Massive Bronx Gang Prosecution Raises Fairness Questions

Simon Davis-Cohen | January 16, 2017 | City Limits

A Year After NYC’s Biggest “Gang Raids,” Families Say It’s Just Stop And Frisk By Another Name

Max Rivlin-Nadler | April 28, 2017 | Village Voice

Federal Documents Debunk Baltimore ‘Gang Threat’ Narrative

Adam Johnson | June 24, 2015 | FAIR

Who’s Talking?

These are the hosts of Citations Needed

Adam H. Johnson is a media analyst for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. His writing has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, Alternet and elsewhere.

Nima Shirazi is an editor for Muftah, a digital foreign affairs magazine. His political analysis has appeared in Salon, Truthout, Mic, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting and Al Jazeera English, among other outlets.