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NPR, AP imply ‘extremism’ link to teen’s racial slur yelled at U. Utah basketball team

OPINION: Both publications imply stupid teen’s racial slur linked to past racism problems in area

There will be no charges for the Idaho teenager who shouted a racial slur and then a vulgar comment toward the University of Utah women’s basketball team.

Furthermore, the city report on the incident undermines at least some of the claims of racial slurs.

Even though there is no indication the teenager or his friends are affiliated with extremist or racist groups, the Associated Press and National Public Radio both found it necessary to imply there was a link.

Coeur D’Alene declined to press charges against Anthony Myers, an 18-year-old, for his actions at the end of March.

Myers is a high school student who confessed to yelling the n-word followed by an expression of sexual interest in the black female athletes. (I will not be reprinting the exact phrase, but thanks to NPR, the charging document is available here).

It is clear that Myers yelled a racist slur, which he should not have done, followed by a sexual comment, which he also should not have done. Law enforcement declined to press charges, citing First Amendment concerns, because his comments were meant in jest and not in a threatening manner.

Yet while law enforcement did not see a direct threat in his comments, offensive as they were, NPR and the AP tried to suggest there was some connection between his words and past extremist activity in the area.

“Coeur D’Alene and northern Idaho became known as a haven for extremism and racist groups in the 1970s and ’80s when the Aryan Nations relocated its headquarters there,” the NPR report ended. “Skinheads held parades in the 1990s. Activity declined following a lawsuit that largely dissolved the organization. But two summers ago 31 members of the white nationalist group Patriot Front were arrested there, with plans to disrupt a queer pride event.”

I appreciate that NPR provided a link to the charging document. I read it and found absolutely no indication these teenagers involved have links to those groups.

While NPR included those facts of historical problems at the bottom, the AP included similar language in the fifth paragraph of its article on the decision not to prosecute.

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“Far-right extremists have maintained a presence in the region for years,” reporter Rebecca Boone wrote. “In 2018, at least nine hate groups operated in the region of Spokane and northern Idaho, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

The AP report from April 4, providing an update on the investigation, used the exact same language, as did the initial March 26 article. (AP guidelines say boilerplate language can be copied, so this is not plagiarism).

But while at least one racial slur turned out to be true, another claim fell apart.

Donor Robert Moyer told the police that “two lifted pickup trucks had revved their engines and sped by the U of U contingent as they walked to Crafted Tap House + Kitchen on Sherman Avenue for a dinner reservation at approximately 6 p.m,” according to the charging document summary.

He also alleged “the trucks turned around and drove past again, shouting the N-word at the team, which included several African American members. He further reported that the same trucks waited until the team had finished dinner and had begun walking back to the CDA Resort, at which time they drove past them again in the same harassing manner and again shouted the N-word at the team.”

There is no proof the “trucks” came back after dinner; instead, Myers was in a passenger car, according to charging document.

There is also no proof the first set of drivers parked their trucks and then hit the accelerator, which is the definition of revving.

Moyer could have used imprecise terms but generally meant that the trucks were making loud noises to be purposefully intimidating.

That would be a reasonable counter argument. That does not change the fact “there is no audio evidence that the occupants of any of those three trucks—or any other vehicle—shouted the N-word—or anything else—during the time frame in which the U of U contingent was walking to Crafted.”

Eyewitness accounts varied on if an n-word was used.

“Ultimately, there was insufficient information in those eyewitness accounts to identify the perpetrator(s) or the vehicle(s) involved in the initial incident of the N-word being shouted at the U of U contingent,” the document stated. “Furthermore, there is no evidence whatsoever to establish a connection between that first incident and the second verified incident of racial harassment by Anthony Myers as the U of U contingent walked back from Crafted towards the CDA Resort.”

It is wrong to shout racial slurs and sexual comments at anyone.

Even if there was no crime committed, Myers should be ashamed of what he did.

But it does not justify implying he is part of a white supremacist group. Let his bad actions stand on their own.

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IMAGE: City of Coeur d’Alene/YouTube

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.