December 7, 2023

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Media Bury Racial Motive in Murder of Overland Park Teen

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As its custom when the victim is white, the Kansas City Star buried the racial motive behind a murder, in this case that of an 18-year-old Overland Park girl named Mikayla Norris.

The custom would be understandable if the Star and other media suppressed the racial motivations in all crimes, but unfortunately they do not. In fact, when the victim is a person of color they will often feed on the story for weeks.

In February of 2017, for instance, a drunken loser named Adam Purinton shot and killed an Indian engineer in Olathe thinking the man was an Iranian. The media nationwide ran with this story and shamelessly tied the shooting to the rise of Donald Trump. The Kansas City Star posted more than 50 articles on this one crime alone.

The murder of Mikayla Norris is a cautionary tale for our age if there ever was one. Norris, who recently moved to Overland Park from Fort Scott, hooked up with 22-year-old Kareem McCoy-Lee through Tinder, an online dating site. McCoy-Lee, who is black, posted his motives on Facebook, “White girl was just a pond (sic) for the car,” he wrote. He meant “pawn.” This is the first hint that race might have had anything with the murder. The Star mentioned it in the 29th paragraph of its story.

Social media played a major role, good and bad, in this hair-raising saga.

In the 31st paragraph, the Star drops another bombshell, this one also from McCoy-Lee’s no longer visible Facebook page, “White people been … us up for years so just put it on the tab.” Starting with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, the media, local and national, have been relentlessly misreporting interracial incidents in which blacks are killed. McCoy-Lee was the same age as Martin, and the life he led was even more unstable. The media misinformation put out on that and subsequent incidents had to work on McCoy-Lee’s already disturbed mind. To him, Norris was mere pawn, her death pure payback–“Just put it on the tab.”

An equal opportunity madman, McCoy-Lee wanted the car so he could kill his ex-girlfriend and her mother, both black. He tried to do just that. Driving Norris’s car, he chased Bryanna Spencer to Liberty, shooting as he chased her. When Spencer’s car crashed, she sought protection from a fellow changing lights on a billboard named Cody McDole.

McDole hustled Spencer into his work truck while McCoy-Lee was shooting at her and drove away to safety. McCoy-Lee subsequently shot himself in Norris’s vehicle about a mile from the billboard in Liberty.

In the course of this misadventure, McCoy-Lee posted on Facebook his motives for killing Norris and for wanting to kill Spencer and her mother. Helpfully, he even posted the location of the body of the unfortunate Overland Park teen, “Body across from 8503 hillcrest rd, damn gun got jammed.”

Other than the suppression of the racial angle, the five Star reporters on the case tell one hell of a hair-raising saga. Of particular interest is the use of social media not only by McCoy-Lee but also by other observers to help close the case. There are lessons to be learned all around.

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