Thursday, June 4, 2009

belated Bill Dwight show audio link on the Al Southerland case

Ex-city councilor, radio host, absurdly overqualified video store clerk, and all around nice man about town Bill Dwight comments on the Alfonso Southerland alleged beating controversy on his April 23d radio show(the commentary on the issue begins roughly at the 6 minute mark of the audio MP3.) He gives evenhanded coverage, giving credence to both sides, although he expresses skepticism because he believes the Northampton police culture, many of whose officers he interviewed for their positions and promotions, are above police brutality for the most part. But unlike the police and some Northampton citizens, he refuses to swallow the idea that it could never happen here, and calls for more investigation.

He notes some holes in our coverage, which are actually errors in his reporting: there were four eyewitnesses, not just two, but despite our best efforts, we haven't been able to locate the other two. People are scared.But we're definitely still trying. Also, we asserted in our press release that the alleged beating occurred during the arrest outside of Urban Outfitters, not at the Northampton PD. I'd also like to note that the Chief of Police came out with a preemptive denial the a day or so after the incident, with no attempt at an investigation and an "it-can't-happen-here"attitude. Finally, Southerland's jaw was not dislocated, but the flesh on it was razed to the point that you could see his jaw bone.

I asked Dwight to make these corrections on his show, and knowing him and his commitment to truth, I fully expect him to do so. I heard that the Chief of Police was incensed at Dwight for even mentioning the case, though he favored PINAC no more than he did the police. If the the police had their druthers,this case would fade from public attention. But given the lawsuit the family is planning, and the complaint we'll be helping them make to the Northampton Human Rights Commission, it doesn't look like they'll be getting their wish anytime soon.

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