J. Pharoah Doss: A police shooting, a clash of parents, and poor headlines

by J. Pharoah Doss, For New Pittsburgh Courier

The following headlines, centering around a mother who confronted demonstrators at a rally for a Black man that was fatally shot by a sniper after a six-hour standoff with the Minneapolis police, illustrate how little respect these news outlets have for the intelligence of their readers.

1). BLM slammed for protesting cops for shooting man who opened fire into home

2). A police shooting in Minneapolis reveals the misplaced priorities and misguided policies of the defund-the-police left

3). Victim of Black man shot by cops, MN mom screams at protesters, ‘He tried to kill me in front of my kids!’

Then Fox News lambasted the liberal media for their “unequal coverage”. As soon as the police standoff reached its fatal conclusion, these headlines below appeared.

1). Black man in mental health crisis shot down by Minneapolis police

2). Deadly Minneapolis police standoff revives racial concerns

3). Vigil held for man killed in Minneapolis police standoff

According to Fox News, the liberal media didn’t give extensive coverage to the mother when she confronted the BLM protesters. Fox News said it’s time for the mainstream media to give the same amount of coverage to crime victims that it gives to people killed by the police.

Obviously, the first set of headlines came from right-wing news outlets that wanted to discredit BLM by revealing that the organization cares more about criminals than crime victims. The second set of headlines came from left-wing news outlets that were sympathetic to mental health problems and sensitive to the role race played in the shooting.

So, what happened?

The mother in the first set of headlines, Arabella Foss-Yarbrough, called 911 after the Black man in the second set of headlines, Andrew Tekle Sundberg, fired gunshots through her unit from a neighboring apartment. The police reported that when they arrived at the scene, they heard more gunshots. The police evacuated Foss-Yarbrough, her children, and other residents.

Sundberg isolated himself inside the apartment. The police negotiated with Sundberg, but six hours later a police sniper fatally shot him.

Sgt. Sherral Schmidt, president of the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation, said, “Many tactics were used to try to persuade Sundberg to surrender, but these efforts became futile when the suspect endangered the lives of others.”

Now, back to the conflict in the first set of headlines.

Apparently, the mother, Foss-Yarbrough, was appalled by all the sympathy the press gave to Sundberg, and when she found out there was a rally for Sundberg in front of her apartment building, she decided to confront them.

All the right-wing outlets praised her for confronting the local Black Lives Matter chapter that participated in the demonstration and quoted Foss-Yarbrough telling BLM Sundberg was not George Floyd.

Foss-Yarbrough was right.  It wasn’t a George Floyd situation, but she was wrong about the reason for the demonstration.

The video footage showed Foss-Yarbrough getting out of her car and confronting a White man and White woman, not the BLM demonstrators. (Foss-Yarbrough argued with BLM demonstrators after this initial confrontation.) Foss-Yarbrough accused the White couple of staging a rally to celebrate Sundberg’s life. It’s understandable why she drew that conclusion with BLM involved, but Andrew Tekle Sundberg was adopted from Ethiopia, and the White couple Foss-Yarbrough was yelling at was Sundberg’s parents.

Sundberg’s parents weren’t holding a celebratory rally. They were there to voice a legitimate complaint against the Minneapolis Police Department.

According to the Sahan Journal, a digital newsroom covering immigrants and communities of color in Minnesota, the police called Sundberg’s parents to the scene to help with negotiations. The father said the police assured them only less-lethal measures, gas and rubber bullets, were going to be used to apprehend their son. The police promised their son would not get shot and killed.

Sandberg’s parents were holding the demonstration because they simply wanted to know what went wrong.

Sandberg’s father explained to the media after the confrontation with Foss-Yarbrough that it’s two different incidents. It’s the shots going through her wall and what we are here for when Tekle was shot. We can do both things. We can feel terribly for Foss-Yarbrough but also remember Tekle should be alive, and we can ask the police to do better.

We can ask the media to do better too.




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