Monday, January 14, 2008

Poland Man Shot in Stomach in Youngstown - A Story about Privilege

Monday, January 14, 2007 the Vindicator, reported that a Poland Man looking for female companionship ended up being shot in the stomach over the weekend. Police said that they were called to the parking lot of the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority on Woodcrest Avenue at 7:20 p.m. Saturday for reports of gunfire. They found a 66 year old Poland man bleeding. He claimed to have been shot by a woman. When the police questioned the man after he was treated at St. Elizabeth Health Center , he told them that he was driving through Youngstown looking for female companionship when he met two black females named Ashley and Tiara. The women told him to pull into a parking lot. The women punched the man and took his wallet. The man said he ran and heard three shots. He went to a nearby apartment for help after realizing that he had been shot. Another man who lives nearby was arrested on charges of obstruction of justice and resisting arrest. Police said that Raymond Gordon of Woodcrest Avenue was seen near the victim's car when police arrived. An officer attempted to question Gordon, but Gordan starting yelling at police and eventually ran off. Gordon was identified by a resident who lives nearby. The resident said that Gordon came outside only after the shots were fired. Gordon returned a short time later and was arrested by police. Police said he was combative and they had to use pepper spray to subdue him.

Okay folks, what is wrong with this picture? Let's start with the fact that the Poland man doesn't have a proper name. His name is nowhere mentioned in the article, we don't know his address, although we are told that he is 66 years old. We know the names of "the girls from the hood" as they are portrayed, their names are Ashley and Tiara, and we now know the name of Raymond Gordon, neighborhood resident. We know Raymond's home address, his age, and we also know that:

1. Mr. Gordon was curious about the gunshots that he heard and went outside to investigate
2. He doesn't like the police which is why he didn't want to answer their questions and therefore he ran away.
3. That he is known by his neighbors and that they said he didn't go outside prior to the gunshots.
4. We now know that Mr. Gordon has not heard the old adage, "curiosity killed the cat" because after he ran away, he then went back to the scene.
5. This according to the police makes Mr. Gordon guilty of obstruction of justice.
6. When Mr. Gordon didn't agree with their assessment, he got angry. The police also charged him with resisting arrest.

Section 525.08 of the Youngstown Municipal Code addresses Obstruction of Justice.

(a) No person, with purpose to hinder the discovery, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of another for a misdemeanor...shall do any of the following:
(1) Harbor or conceal the other person or child;
(2) Provide the other person or child with money, transportation, a weapon, a disguise, or other means of avoiding discovery or apprehension.
(3) Warn the other person or child of impending discovery or apprehension;
(4) Destroy or conceal physical evidence of the misdemeanor, or act, or induce any person to withhold testimony or information or to elude legal process summoning the person to testify or supply evidence;
(5) Communicate false information to any person
(6) Prevent or obstruct any person by means of force intimation or deception from performing any act to aid in the discovery or deception , from performing any act to aid the discovery, apprehension or prosecution of the other person or child.

So, of course we can see from the above code that perhaps Mr. Gordon may have, by means of intimidation, prevented the officers from performing the act of aiding in the discovery, apprehension or prosecution of the other person or child. However, whether he did so with purpose which is defined as, "intended", is open to question. Perhaps the officers at the scene were not aware of Youngstown Municipal Ordinance 525.07 Obstructing Official Business, or 509.05 Misconduct at an Emergency. This code states that, No person shall knowingly do any of the following: (3) fail to obey the lawful order of any law enforcement officer engaged in the law enforcement officer's duties at the scene of or in connection with a fire, accident, disaster, riot, or emergency of any kind. The legal definition of "emergency" is a sudden, unforeseeable happening which requires action to correct.

In any case the crime is a misdemeanor, as is "Solicitation". However, if you are a man from Poland, you're not soliciting, you're looking for "female companionship". Note that the article does not make mention of the fact that the man from Poland was engaged in a crime called Solicitation, nor is any mention made that he was charged with that crime. My question is WHY? I have known of many persons who have been charged with a crime while in the hospital. The fact that the Poland Man was harmed should not have prevented this, and most likely would not been prevented had he been working class, poor, black or Hispanic.
Section 533.09 of Youngstown Municipal Ordinances states:
"(a) No person shall solicit another to engage with such other person in sexual activity for hire.(b) Whoever violates this section is guilty of soliciting, a misdemeanor of the third degree for the first offense. For the second and subsequent offenses such person is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.
(c) If a person is convicted of or pleads guilty to a violation of any provision of this section or an attempt to commit a violation of any provision of this section, and if the person, in committing or attempting to commit the violation, was in, was on, or used a motor vehicle, the court in addition to or independent of all other penalties imposed for the violation shall impose upon the offender a class six suspension of the person's driver's license..."


What is privilege? Privilege is about how society accommodates you. It's about advantages you have that you think are normal. Privilege is pervasive and largely invisible to those who have it. Peggy McIntosh in White Privilege- Unpacking the Knapsack, states, "Whites are taught not to recognize white privilege as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. White privilege is like a invisible knapsack of special provisions; maps, passports, code books,visas, clothes, tools and blank checks." This article clearly portrays the level of white privilege, class privilege, and male privilege that goes unchecked in our area. More than likely had Mr. Poland Man been from Youngstown, and of a lower economic status, he would have been charged with solicitation, although the fact that he is male may still have prevented his name from being placed in the paper . This would be due to the double standard and the fact that sexism is unfortunately still with us. Never mind the fact that Mr. Poland Man's story doesn't hold water. Purely speculation on my part, but when was the last time someone got shot in the stomach while they were running away from the perp. What, was he running backward? How about he was trying to rip off the prostitutes and they got mad? Perhaps too, Mr. Gordon wasn't such an innocent either, perhaps he was their pimp, but in any case, the neighbors said he was not outside at the time of the shooting. I'm sorry that Mr. Poland Man was hurt, I truly am, but why does that prevent him from having his license taken away? I'm also sorry that the headline of the article could lead someone just skimming the paper to believe, "oh my, yet another shooting in Youngstown" never mind that Mr. Poland Man contributed to the incident. Hmm, now that is some food for thought.

Please see below for comments:


TantaI said...

Seems this is a call for action (perhaps from ACTION).
A trip down to the Vindicator offices for a meeting with the editor seems to be in order. We had confronted this same kind of lopsided coverage a number of years ago and it had stopped for quite awhile. How soon they forget!!!! AND WE MUST NOT.
The time is NOW.

Tyler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Classic example of how people from the suburbs will come into the city to do dirt (and thereby fund and perpetuate it.) and the city gets the reputation for having all those bad people in it.

As for the Vindicator's coverage of it, are we really surprised? Is it so unusual for them to cover for that "poor family man" from Poland and hang the city residents out to dry?

Christopher Barzak said...

Typically sub-par reporting not to mention non-neutral reporting from the Vindicator. I'm glad I canceled my subscription a year ago.

susie said...

A recap of my comments that got lost in cyberspace.
The Vindicator article was not only poorly written but what was the reporter thinking as he was putting together this story? Female companionship? Does he think that readers are really that clueless? A friend told me that the police would rather all names be printed as a deterrent, so this was probably the reporter’s call.

This article is just another example of a media slanted to the dominant culture: white, male, middle-class, suburban, fear-mongering and sensationalist (if it bleeds it leads). This is not a slur against my white male middle-class friends – I know that y’all know what I’m talking about.

I also do not subscribe to the Vindicator. I don’t need the negative and oppressive news and views that it spews…

Unfortunately many readers are apathetic and read this type of reporting without using any critical thinking skills.

Debbie, I am so grateful for your thorough deconstruction of this “report” and the thoughtful and insightful way you look at a society so full of injustices. And you don’t look the other way but are an activist extraordinaire. Thanks...

I called ACTION on Wednesday and alerted them to the story. I also registered on Wednesday at the Vindicator site to post a comment but they haven’t gotten back to me and it says my email has already been used, so I guess it’s in the works.

Tantai, I agree that we must do something and the time is now! What is your affiliation or how can we get in touch? My email is
Let’s make some noise for justice!

BBC said...

There are two classes in America--you point out the reality in this pathetic Vindicator coverage. One class gets away with crime. Thanks Debra.

Anonymous said...

Can I join in? I'm Todd Franko, editor of The Vindicator. I'm glad we're the central point of this discussion. Despite the less than glowing words from just about everyone, I think that being part of any dialogue is better than not being part of any discussion.
Visit my blog at to see an extensive reply to your concerns.
Thanks ...

TANTAI said...

I have read the Vindicator Editor's response to this blog and while I appreciate the limits placed on the media in the name of fairness to the individuals caught up in negative situations, I also appreciate the restraints placed on the arresting officers of the police Dept. I think we need to note that the finger pointing by the Vindicator to the police dept. calls for more than hot air. If the police were not arresting or (and both may apply in this situation) arresting someone inappropriately then that should call for a little investigative journalism.