Just hours after his arrest in the murder of Danny Buckley, images on social media appeared showing the suspect with Confederate Flag memorabilia and symbols.
But some coverage of the incident instead focused on the background of the innocent victim, a 61 year old Black man in poor physical health.
Twenty-four year old Jace Boyd, of Sulphur, Louisiana was arrested on August 25 on charges of second degree murder and illegal use of a weapon. Three days earlier, he shot Mr. Buckley, who was asking people for money in the Baton Rouge Trader Joe’s parking lot.
Mr. Buckley later died at the hospital. Mr. Boyd was briefly questioned and let go by Baton Rouge police, but subsequently taken into custody days later after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Baton Rouge based WAFB originally titled their story “Aggressive panhandler shot, killed in BR,” but quietly removed the word “aggressive” from the title. The original text is still visible in the link to the story. The coverage did not probe into the background of the shooter.
Suspicions that WAFB had originally probed into the background of the victim – and not the shooter – arose when local comedy podcast Baton Rouge Sucks posted a link to the story on their Facebook page.
Fans of the page who followed the story began commenting about the WAFB story’s mention on the victim’s background and “aggressive” panhandling – both of which no longer appear in the article.
Kyle Peyton Bonner observed that “the article jumps to display the panhandlers minimal criminal record.” But any such reference has been removed.
Duff Voigt, referred to another quote by WAFB that is no longer in the story.
“Of note,” he writes, “’Buckley was arrested earlier in 2020 and charged with aggravated assault and domestic abuse. He also has prior arrests for burglary and assault.’”
A search for this sentence brought up a link to the same article, with the text in the link coding but removed from the body of the story. WAFB provided no editorial history to account for any changes made.
Big Easy Magazine has made several attempts to contact WAFB to determine what, exactly, the original article said about Mr. Buckley and whether it utilized his mugshot, but has received no reply.
A subsequent article by WAFB that reported Mr. Boyd’s arrest also made no mention about his usage of Confederate imagery.
According to The Advocate, Jace Boyd’s Facebook “showed several images he posted containing the Confederate flag and other Southern symbolism.” Mr. Boyd’s Facebook account has since been taken down.
Local activist Gary Chambers of the Rouge Collection, posted a video with several photos of Mr. Boyd using the Confederate flag’s imagery on social media.
Mr. Boyd’s deleted social media contained “a picture of him with a Confederate hat, as well as pictures of the Confederacy.”
As a result, Mr. Buckley’s family believes that he was the victim of a hate crime.
The Baton Rouge Police Department have also come under criticism for what has been perceived as differential treatment along race lines. According to The Advocate, BRPD detectives “questioned the shooter immediately afterward and then released him without filing charges.”
The Baton Rouge Business Report quoted BRPD’s Sgt. Don Coppola, who noted that “the victim’s background remains part of the ongoing investigation.”
A witness named Kaylee, who was allegedly the last person Mr. Buckley asked for money before he was killed, said she did not feel threatened by him “in any way.”
Kaylee took to Twitter to announce this, and she noted that the BRPD would not take her statement despite being a witness, so she called the police the next day.
“When giving my statement I made it very clear to the officers that if I, a 21 year old white female, did not feel threatened by Mr. Buckley,” she said on Twitter.
“The detectives responded and told me that there was ‘more to the story than just my part.”
When giving my statement I made it very clear to the officers that if I, a 21 year old white female, did not feel threatened by Mr. Buckley…then I thought that it was completely unnecessary for the actions taken by Mr. Boyd. The detectives responded and told me that there was
— kaylee (@kayraepat) August 24, 2020
Attorney Ron Haley, who is representing the family of Mr. Buckley, also spoke out against the BRPD’s handling of the matter. “Is this an issue of devaluing a Black life or a poor life or what?”
“Why is BRPD treating this man like his life wasn’t valuable?”