The crime and the media blackout.
by Nicholas Stix
On Saturday, January 6, 2007 Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23, of Knoxville, Tennessee, went on a date from which they would never return. Outside the home of another couple they were visiting, they were carjacked and kidnapped. Over the next 24 hours they were beaten, gang-raped, tortured and murdered.
There can be little doubt that if Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom had been black and their killers white, everyone in America would know their names. Because they were white and their killers are black, their fate has been shrouded in a thick silence that has given rise to a host of lurid rumors. Their story highlights the strange and twisted nature of race relations in America, which makes it nearly impossible for the authorities or the media to deal honestly with events that violate official assumptions about race. It also represents both a strength and weakness of the Internet: Mischief-makers of various political persuasions spread falsehoods rather than correct them, but they built up a demand for facts that became so great the authorities eventually had to come clean.
The men who kidnapped and killed Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom have not yet gone to trial, so they are theoretically innocent. This account—as accurate as possible under what sometimes amounted to a news blackout—is based on documents filed in federal and state courts, and on sometimes vague and contradictory press reports.
These three--George Thomas, Letalvis Cobbins, and Lemaricus
Davidson--are finally getting a little national attention.
Sometime after midnight, Miss Christian and Mr. Newsom were in the parking lot of Knoxville's Washington Ridge apartment complex, where they were visiting friends. Letalvis Cobbins, 24, along with his brother Lemaricus Davidson, 25, and George Thomas, 24, kidnapped them at gunpoint, and carjacked Miss Christian's 2005 Toyota 4-Runner. Mr. Davidson had already been convicted of carjacking and aggravated robbery in Tennessee in 2001, but despite conviction for a death penalty-eligible offense and a bad record as an inmate, had served no more than five years in West Tennessee State Penitentiary. Recently released, he had been a member of the Black Gangster Disciples at least since prison.
The three men tied up their captives and took them in the 4-Runner to a rundown rental house at 2316 Chipman Street in black East Knoxville, where Mr. Cobbins and Mr. Davidson lived. Mr. Cobbins's 18-year-old girlfriend, Vanessa Coleman, met them there.
Their story highlights the strange and twisted nature of race relations in America.
All four, including Miss Coleman, then engaged in an orgy of rape and violence. They anally gang-raped Mr. Newsom, and orally, anally, and vaginally gang-raped Channon Christian. They brutally beat both victims and poured cleaning fluid down Miss Christian's throat. They killed Mr. Newsom, leaving him with “multiple gunshot wounds,” and set his corpse on fire. Knoxville police refuse to say how Miss Christian was murdered, but an assistant U.S. attorney suggests she may have been “choked.”
On January 8, the day after the carjacking-gang-rape-murder, Lemaricus Davidson robbed an employee of a Knoxville Pizza Hut at gunpoint, and tried to rob a customer. Likewise on January 8, Miss Christian’s father, Gary, found her Toyota 4-Runner abandoned near railroad tracks, not far from where a railroad employee found Mr. Newsom’s desecrated corpse that same day. There was a fingerprint from Lemaricus Davidson inside the vehicle, which led to a search of his apartment on January 10. There police found Miss Christian’s corpse in a garbage can in the kitchen.
A fourth man, Eric Boyd, has been charged as an accessory in the carjacking case for having helped Mr. Davidson try to escape justice, but not in the rapes and murders.
Knoxville authorities have promoted the view that the rapists poured cleaning fluid down Miss Christian's throat to destroy DNA evidence. They and the media have also insisted that the torture/murders were "a crime of opportunity," a carjacking that somehow got out of hand, and that the criminals had no racial motivation.
This picture appears to be wrong on all counts, and is an insult to the public's intelligence. The defendants are charged with premeditated murder and, according to court documents, had already decided to kill Miss Christian before they made her swallow cleaning fluid. They also did not bother to "clean" her vagina and anus, which were stuffed with DNA evidence.
The carjacking-gone-wrong theory is not plausible either. Carjacking is armed robbery of a vehicle, in order to possess or sell it, but these assailants had no interest in the 4-Runner. They dumped it after only a few hours.
Nor was there any reason for things to "go wrong;" the victims cooperated, and Lemaricus Davidson was an experienced carjacker. While carjackers sometimes rape their victims, anal gang-rape is very rare, especially of male victims. On the other hand, black jail and prison inmates often target white prisoners for anal gang-rape as a method of racial terrorism (see "Hard Time," AR, April 2002). And while carjackers sometimes murder their victims, it is hard to imagine black carjackers treating black victims in such a loathsome manner.
Finally, a "hate crime" is one committed "wholly or in part" for reasons of racial animus, and use of racial epithets is considered strong evidence of racial animus. Do the authorities expect us to believe that these black killers raped, tortured, and murdered white victims, without ever using racially insulting language? This reporter believes the carjacking was just a way to kidnap, gang-rape, torture and murder whites, and that the killers used the cleaning fluid for the sole purpose of further torturing Miss Christian.
Until mid-May, this story was strictly local news, but it assumed a certain notoriety on the Internet where, not long after the first newspaper reports, a story with the following headline began circulating:
"White Couple Abducted; Both Man and Woman Were Raped, Beaten, Cut Apart and Killed. Five Blacks Arrested In Case. No Media Frenzy Over 'Racist' Attack."
The report, with photographs of the victims and the suspects, continued as follows:
"The animals pictured below raped Christopher Newsom, cut off his penis, then set him on fire and fatally shot him several times while they forced his girlfriend, Channon Christian, to watch. An even more cruel fate awaited her!
"Channon Christian, was beaten and gang-raped in many ways for four days by all of them, while they took turns urinating on her. Then they cut off her breast and put chemicals in her mouth . . . and then murdered her."
The earliest version of this story seems to have appeared around February 21 on the web page of New Jersey radio host Hal Turner. Many of the details, including the amputations and urination, have not been in other reports, nor are they mentioned in court documents.
I asked the Knoxville police to confirm or deny Mr. Turner's claims. Public Information Officer Darrell Debusk was unfailingly polite, but would tell me nothing. Were the victims mutilated? Were they alive or dead when this happened? "That is something that we have not discussed in public, and is information that will come to light during the trial . . . . Right now, we're not discussing the details of the investigation." Officer Debusk would not even give a cause of death: "Again, that's evidence in a trial that will be presented during the trial." (Only later did I learn from court documents that federal authorities had already reported that Mr. Newsom had been shot.)
The claim that "the investigation is ongoing," was plainly untrue. The suspects had been arrested, indicted, and bound over for trial. Prosecutors bind over defendants only after the police have finished their investigation. When I asked for a copy of the Knoxville police preliminary report, which had been released to local reporters, Officer Debusk was happy to oblige--so long as I dropped by in person at department headquarters in Knoxville. If that wasn't convenient for someone living in New York State, I could have a local person pick one up for me, or a Tennessee resident could pay for a copy and ask that it be sent to an in-state address. Clearly, Officer Debusk just didn't want me to see the report.
Other Knoxville officials--at the county medical examiner's office, sheriff's department, and criminal court--all referred me back to the Knoxville Police Department. Chief Sterling Owen, IV himself established this stonewalling policy, and the information has been so tightly sealed we cannot even assume the trial transcript will be available to the public.
The refusal by police to release the autopsy reports has left even the mainstream media dueling over how Miss Christian died and what was done to her corpse. The Knoxville News Sentinel claimed Lemaricus Davidson strangled her but left her corpse intact. ABC's and CBS's Knoxville affiliates reported she was dismembered, though neither was clear whether this was how she was killed or whether her corpse was cut apart after she was murdered. CNN claimed Miss Christian "asphyxiated" after she was forced into an airtight garbage can.
When it suits them, the Knoxville police can be very forthcoming with information. On May 22, just-released black career criminal Dwayne Hill, 39, celebrated his third day of freedom with an attempted carjacking in East Knoxville. When police stepped in, he fought them, was tasered, and died. Within 24 hours, the department produced a report showing that Hill "had an illegal substance in his system," and had died of a condition unrelated to the tasering. When a back man dies at the hands of officers, and there is a chance "the community" might be unhappy, the police are quick with the facts. Whites do not merit the same treatment.
Mischief Within Mischief
Meanwhile, in this deliberate void of information, a different kind of rumor has grown up, notably at the black, anti-white web site, "Svengalimedia." This site celebrates black-on-white murders, and sponsors an annual "Sexiest & Hardest Ghetto, Black, Male, Felon Bragging Rights Competition" for the most gruesome black-on-white murder. Lemaricus Davidson is this year's front-runner.
Svengalimedia's contributors have praised Miss Newsom's rape: "Privileged whites deserve to feel and know our experiences and values firsthand and not just from word of mouth or by books and movies. Their families need and deserve to have terrible memories & experiences with blacks."
Murder victim Channon Christian.
Other contributors have proposed novel theories about the crime. One is that Channon Christian had driven into a black neighborhood "to buy drugs." Another, which has piggybacked on the sexual mutilation rumors, claims that Miss Christian staged the carjacking and cut off her own breasts. According to this fantasy, Miss Christian wanted to die from black sexual torture, and arranged everything herself. Svengalimedia contributor Waldorf Carathers even hinted at the existence of a "death by sexual torture sex video directed by Channon Christian," noting that cell phones had been found at the Chipman Street house, and might have been used to record the killing. Many Knoxville blacks take the view--promoted by Svengalimedia--that the two whites were hijacked when they cruised into a black neighborhood to buy drugs.
Some have claimed that the Svengalimedia site is a hoax; in any case, it appears to have shut down recently. However, fantasies as obscene as those it promotes are found in the "respectable" black mainstream. Last November, in the federal carjacking and weapons trial of Dedrick Griham, defense lawyer Emory Anthony, Jr. argued that the victim, a white Birmingham lawyer, had "staged" the carjacking and was a willing participant in her own rape and sodomy. The black defendant claimed that the white victim had gotten in touch with him through a completely imaginary prostitute named "Puddin" or "Pumpkin," who offered him money to fulfill the white woman's feverish fantasies. The jury didn't buy this story, and convicted Mr. Griham, who had 13 previous felony convictions, on all counts. The judge sentenced him to life plus 84 months.
Likewise, it is not uncommon for blacks to be indifferent to, and even show "Svengalian" satisfaction in the face of cruelties done to whites. In 1973 and 1974, the Nation of Islam carried out a series of black-on-white killings in San Francisco known as the Zebra Murders. Self-styled "death angels" killed at least 16 "blue-eyed devils" and injured another eight or ten in what was, again, a spectacular crime wave that was little reported outside its local area. Clark Howard recounts in his classic 1979 work, Zebra: The True Account of the 179 Days of Terror in San Francisco, that in 1974, at the height of the white panic, two teams of San Francisco Examiner reporters and photographers could not find a single black resident who expressed any sympathy for the white victims.
Similarly, during the 2002 Washington, DC-area serial murder spree by the Black Muslim John Muhammad and his teenaged protégé, Lee Malvo, before the pair killed a black man, a black woman psychologist on a Fox News program remarked, with great satisfaction, that whites now knew what blacks put up with all the time.
The Media Go to Plan B
In mid-May, the weight of Internet speculation about the crimes (in addition to a comprehensive report on the AR web site that appeared on May 14) seems to have forced the Knoxville police and the national media to change course. On May 18, the Knox County DA's office finally broke silence to announce that the rumors of sexual mutilation were "absolutely not true." There was also a smattering of national coverage when it was reported that the defendants would each be tried separately, beginning in the spring of 2008.
A little-known classic about a little-known horror.
One thing that did not change was the cheerful insistence that the crime had no racial motive, that it had not been downplayed by the media, and that even if the races were reversed the media would not have paid attention. Something else that did not change was the shortage of facts; many important details are still obscure (although Fox News explained that the fuzzy reporting was deliberate because what happened was "too gruesome" to report). The clear purpose has been to dismiss any outraged whites as "white supremacists" and "racists."
The national media found plenty of "experts" to support the party line. The "reader representative" of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ted Diadiun, said the crime was no worse than thousands of others committed every year. He suggested that angry whites are guilty of racism, while the killers clearly are not. Kelly McBride, "ethics group leader" at the Poynter Institute for Journalism, explained that there could have been no racial motive because "you have to have specific evidence, such as some sort of racial epithet." Ted Gest, who is president of a national organization of journalists who cover crime, said that although crime that crosses racial lines tends to get more attention, "I can't say that this one would have had any more coverage if five whites had been accused of doing these things to two blacks, absent a blatant racial motive." Newsday reporter Ellis Henican suggested on Fox News that anyone who thinks there is any kind of anti-white newsroom racial bias is delusional. "Why do you want to force the racial angle?" he wanted to know.
Only a few commentators saw through this foolishness. As retired conservative columnist John Leo pointed out: "[T]he newsroom culture tends to view black-on-white crimes as responses to black oppression, and therefore not worth reporting. Whereas similar white-on-black crime is oppression itself, and thus crucially important to put before readers and viewers."
Eric Boyd: charged in the
carjacking but not in the
rapes and murders.
Perhaps the lowest blow was AP reporter Duncan Mansfield's suggestion that Miss Christian's father was not taking bereavement in the proper spirit: "Christian's father, Gary Christian, wore a Confederate flag T-shirt--a symbol of the Old South where slavery was rifre [sic]--to the first hearing for one of the defendants and then pointed at the man as if firing a gun."
Another event that drew attention to the crime was a "rally against genocide" held in Knoxville on May 26 by Vanguard News Network founder Alex Linder. (The "genocide" Mr. Linder was protesting was not murders of whites by blacks but "genocide" of whites by Jews, as he explained to me in an April 6 interview. He insisted on this, even though I had told him I am a Jew. Surprisingly, the hostile reporters who covered his demonstration never learned the nature of the "genocide.")
Local authorities responded with 300 law enforcement officers in full riot gear: 200 from the Knoxville Police Department, plus another 100 Knox County sheriff's deputies, Tennessee Highway Patrolmen, and federal agents. A radical leftwing organization called Mountain Justice Summer organized a counter-demonstration that looked like a transvestites' ball (see photo, next page).
There was plenty of contrast in how the media covered the two demonstrations. The press repeatedly asked Mr. Linder's supporters where they were from so they could say that the counter-demonstrators had "laughed off white pride groups as ignorant out-of-towners." Reporters referred vaguely to the flamboyantly eccentric leftists as "environmentalists," in contrast to the "white supremacists" at the "hate rally."
indicted for rape and murder.
Many of the counter-demonstrators were from so far out of town they were not sure what they were protesting. Spokesman Amanda Cagle reflected the prevailing sentiment when she said, "We want to shame the Klan, so they won't ever want to come back here." Nor did the counter-demonstrators seem to understand the origins of the controversy. While the "rally against genocide" constantly evoked Miss Christian and Mr. Newsom, the "anti-racists" did not so much as feign sympathy for the victims or their families. Chris Irwin, a lawyer who spoke for the group, sounded almost as if the killers were white and their victims black: "It's not the 1950s anymore! They [the protesters] are not just a knife at the throat of the African American and immigrant communities, they're a threat to us all."
Police arrested Mr. Linder even before the rally began. They had designated areas for demonstrators and counter-demonstrators, with a neutral zone in between that was to be left empty. Mr. Linder walked into the neutral zone, and quickly found himself facing a host of imaginative charges: disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, vandalism, and assault on a police officer.
Journalists used the demonstrations as a pretext to go after the parents again, pressuring them to denounce the Linder rally or be tarred as racists. The media browbeat Miss Christian's father into saying the murders were "not racist" but Mr. Newsom refused to give them that satisfaction.
A different white group called "Against Black Crimes" has tentatively scheduled a rally for June 16, despite opposition from the Knox County Commission. Ken Gregg, who has been associated with a group called the White Patriot Party, filed the application for a permit to demonstrate. The Knoxville murders are finally getting some attention.
What do these crimes--horrible enough without the rumored sexual mutilations--tell us about race and crime in America? First, despite what the tame "experts" have said, if the races were reversed, there would be a media extravaganza on the scale of Rodney King or James Byrd. Second, the police would have laid all their cards on the table, and the press would have reported every lurid detail.
Police arrest Mr. Linder. In the background, please note the decorous attire of the counter-demonstrators, who called themselves the 'Coup Kluts Clowns.'
But because this was a particularly repulsive black-on-white crime, the authorities and national press conspired to keep things quiet. In the absence of details, some racially conscious whites were prepared to believe revolting rumors, but only because they knew details of the underreported horrors of past black-on-white crimes: The Wichita Massacre was replete with sexual torture (see AR, "The Wichita Massacre," August 2002); blacks cut off a living man's penis during the Zebra murders; and the 1980s' Yahweh ben Yahweh cult killers in Miami were ordered to bring back a head, finger, or ear to prove they had dispatched a white person.
At the same time, the media stir up anti-white hatred and promote the fantasy that white women lust for black fulfillment. This only feeds the degeneracy that ends up in places like Svengalimedia--and federal courtrooms.
This is also a case in which the Internet, which reflects the interests of real Americans far better than does the mainstream press, finally forced the media to take up a story they would have preferred to ignore. Some of the blogging was irresponsible, but the cumulative effect was to build up such a demand for information that official silence could no longer be seen as anything but deliberate withholding of information. Now it will be impossible to do what the authorities would no doubt have preferred, and report the forthcoming trials as if they were minor, local news.
There are still many journalists and government officials who promote the pious and pathetic myth that only whites can commit "racist" crimes, and who will continue to suppress inconvenient facts. As more and more whites wake up to racial reality, however, it will become much more difficult to trample on the public's right to know.
Nicholas Stix was Project Director for the National Policy Institute's report, The State of White America--2007, which will be reviewed in a forthcoming issue.