Ohio prosecutor won’t charge black mom in Gorilla death because she wasn’t “in the bathroom smoking crack”
Ohio prosecutor Joseph Deters seemed to be saying all the right things Monday when he cleared Michelle Gregg, the mother of a three-year-old who fell into a gorilla exhibit earlier this month. Then Deters made what seemed to be an incredulous statement.
The Ohio prosecutor said he wouldn’t charge Gregg with child endangerment because it wasn’t like she was “in the bathroom smoking crack”
The zoo shot and killed the rare silver-back gorilla, named Harambe, to protect the boy. The killing spurred national outrage, much of it racially charged, with many blaming Gregg for not properly watching her son. The child was not hurt.
At the press conference, Deters raised eyebrows by mentioning crack cocaine. A CNN reporter mentioned the prosecutor’s poor choice of words during a live report.
In speaking up, the CNN reporter challenged the type of language that is so prevalent in law enforcement narratives. That kind of language and narrative usually goes unchecked by mainstream journalists, as AllDigitocracy has repeatedly highlighted.
If the mother had been white, would Deters have made the same reference? The remark stood out largely because the parents of the boy were vilified in online comments and in media stories. DailyMail.com even reported on the criminal background of the child’s father.
The reference to crack cocaine may have been an unfortunate slip of the tongue by Deters. He was otherwise very supportive of Gregg.
“By all accounts, this mother did not act in any way where she presented this child to some harm,” he said.”She had three other kids with her and turned her back. … And if anyone doesn’t believe a 3-year-old can scamper off very quickly, they’ve never had kids.”