On Sunday, Oct. 30, a Somali man was attacked in San Diego’s Redwood Village at a local pizza restaurant. According to local news, police have arrested three men as suspects and are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
The three men, who are all white, had already been in the restaurant when a group of Somali men and women walked in to the establishment. Police say the men immediately began harassing the group, using derogatory language aimed at them specifically because of their race and religion.
An argument broke out and quickly escalated when the men attacked one member of the group—a 20-year-old man—hitting him in the face with a pair of brass knuckles and in the back of his head with a chair. The suspects, whose names have not been released, were later tracked down by police, who arrested the men after witnesses at the restaurant helped to identify them.
The victim received a number of injuries, including cuts and bruises, but refused treatment. Two of his attackers have been charged with assault and the third with battery. All three of the suspects are facing hate crime charges.
An argument broke out and quickly escalated when the men attacked one member of the group—a 20-year-old man—hitting him in the face with a pair of brass knuckles and in the back of his head with a chair.
While it is clear that this crime is a hate crime and is being investigated as such, there has been no mention of it in media outlets outside of San Diego. What makes a crime “important” enough for it to receive substantial news coverage? What is it about certain stories that makes them forgettable in the eyes of the media?
Though we don’t know his name, the fact remains that a young man was targeted and assaulted because of his faith and race. His story matters whether or not we know what he looks like. His story matters because it could easily be any one of us in his shoes, and it’s our responsibility to raise awareness.
At a time when such incidents of hate crime and Islamophobia are increasing at an alarming rate, media coverage of these stories needs to be both immediate and fair. We need to talk about these instances, so that people both inside and outside the U.S. are aware of what is happening to their fellow Muslims.
One can’t help but wonder how vastly different the situation would have been had the roles been switched. If three Somali men had walked into a restaurant and attacked a young white man, would the media have scrabbled to write that story? Would the headlines have ranged from the creatively outrageous to the explicitly racist?
Updates will be made to this story if more information is released by the San Diego police.