By DANIEL W. STAPLES courthousenews
BALTIMORE (CN) – To slant coverage of a nonviolent rally, Baltimore’s Fox affiliate deliberately infused a cop-killing message into a peaceful protester’s chant, she claims in court.
Towanda Jones filed the complaint in circuit court Monday against WBFF Fox 45 and Sinclair Broadcast Group, saying she has received death threats after the station disregarded its duty “not to ‘rig’ or ‘slant’ the news in an attempt to misrepresent information contained therein.”
She says she appeared on the news station’s 10 p.m. broadcast on Dec. 21, 2014, after participating in a nonviolent rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington.
Because of her history, Jones “has been a nonviolent advocate for justice against police brutality in an attempt to promote peace between law enforcement and the community they are sworn to protect, specifically in Baltimore, Maryland, and throughout the United States,” the complaint states.
About a year and half before the rally, Jones’ brother, Tyrone West, “was tragically killed during a routine traffic stop by officers of the Baltimore City Police Department and Morgan State University,” according to the complaint.
Jones says she called for justice at the rally, not more violence, chanting, “We won’t stop. We can’t stop until killer cops are in cell blocks.”
The “altered” clip that WBFF Fox 45 aired on Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 misquoted Jones, however, as saying, “We won’t stop. We can’t stop so, kill a cop,” according to the complaint.
Jones says WBFF Fox 45 acknowledged its mistake on Dec. 22 regarding its airing of a clip that misquoted her.
That acknowledgement failed to keep Jones from receiving death threats, however, according to the complaint.
Fox declined to comment on the case, but the timing of the broadcast in question is critical.
On Dec. 20, Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley left Baltimore and arrived in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he ambushed two on-duty New York City police officers in their squad car.
After fatally shooting officers Wenjian Lu and Rafael Ramos, reportedly in retaliation for police officers who took the lives of unarmed black men like Eric Garner and Michael Brown, Brinsley killed himself.
Given her status as “a spokesperson for nonviolence regarding” these issues, Jones says Fox’s misrepresentations “were embarrassing and highly offensive.”
The Baltimore woman has become reclusive since the broadcast and has lost “community support for her nonviolent protest; specifically, West Wednesdays, which was a weekly nonviolent protest rally the plaintiff conducted throughout the community in an attempt to serve the public interest regarding in-custody deaths and the law enforcement agencies,” the complaint states.
She seeks punitive damages for negligence, defamation and false light.
Jones is represented by attorney Russell Neverdon.
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