The Shaun King interview
Mic Dispatch | Aired on Sept. 18, 2018
By AARON MORRISON, Correspondent
Daniel Borden and Alex Michael Ramos would probably not be facing prison time were it not for Shaun King, the controversial activist, organizer and citizen journalist whose efforts led to their capture.
The two men were caught on video assaulting 20-year-old DeAndre Harris, a black man, during the Aug. 12, 2017, Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Harris sustained a spinal injury and severe head lacerations from repeated blows with a metal pipe and wooden boards.
In the months that followed, King mobilized his then-combined 2.26 million Facebook and Twitter followers to identify the unnamed attackers, posting screenshots of their faces online and crowdsourcing information about their jobs and whereabouts.
In August, after a two-day trial, Ramos, of Georgia, was convicted of malicious wounding and sentenced to six years in prison. Borden, a Ohio resident, was convicted of malicious wounding in May and is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
“If one person has been pushing for justice the most, it’s King,” Washington Post reporter Ian Shapira wrote of King’s efforts in the case.
Indeed, since Borden and Ramos’ arrests in August 2017, the 38-year-old husband and father has been praised widely for helping identify them. King was among six activists to receive the inaugural Humanitarian Hero honor at the 2018 BET Awards in June and delivered a commencement speech at the City University of New York the same month.
Meanwhile, his social media following has jumped to nearly 3 million on Twitter and Facebook, platforms he’s used most recently to publicize details from the Sept. 6 shooting death of Botham Jean, an unarmed black man killed in his own apartment by white off-duty Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger.
“Even though I’m interested in these individual people being held responsible, part of what I’m trying to do is to send a message to say, ‘If you mistreat people, there are other people like me who will help hold you responsible for it,’” King said in an exclusive interview for Tuesday’s episode of Mic Dispatch. “The system doesn’t do that work for us. So we have to do it ourselves.”
In official terms, King has been a citizen journalist for just over four years, but he’s quickly grown from being a popular blogger for the liberal political forum Daily Kos to a columnist for the Intercept and sought-after speaker known for revealing and publicizing incidents of racism and police brutality.
It hasn’t always been a smooth ride. Questions surrounding King’s ethics and journalistic accuracy have dogged his work. In May, he helped publicize false sexual assault allegations against a white Texas state trooper made by a 37-year-old black woman, who claimed the trooper promised to let her go if she performed sexual favors on him after he pulled her over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
Footage from the trooper’s body-worn camera seems to disprove anything improper took place. The officer in question declined Mic’sSept. 7 request for an interview. But the Texas Department of Public Safety referred Mic to a previously issued statement in which the agency expressed outrage “that anyone would make such a despicable, slanderous and false accusation against a peace officer who willingly risks his life every day to protect and serve the public.”
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