Baltimore activist Tawanda Jones
WBFF Fox 45 News has found itself embroiled in controversy after reporting that Baltimore activist Tawanda Jones called for the death of police officers in an apparent rush to sensationalize a week-old protest against police brutality and capitalize on the killing of two police officers in New York City by Ismaaiyl Brinsley over the weekend. WBFF, Fox’s Baltimore affiliate, reported on Sunday that Baltimore activist Tawanda Jones had led a crowd in chanting “we won’t stop, we can’t stop, so kill a cop” during protests against police brutality in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 13, when she was actually chanting “we won’t stop, we can’t stop, ‘til killer cops, are in cell blocks.”
Jones’ brother, Tyrone West, was killed by Baltimore Police officers in July of 2013 and she has been peacefully protesting against police brutality for 73 weeks since.
“I was in tears and I just felt like they changed my life overnight,” Jones told the AFRO of her reaction to seeing the news report that first aired this past Sunday, and included a video clip edited to make it seem that she was promoting the death of police officers. “I feel like I’m in danger.”
Jones said she instantly called the news station on Sunday, when the report originally ran, to explain what she had actually been chanting and to demand a retraction. She was told someone would get back to her in the morning, but the report with the misleading video ran again the next day nonetheless.
The station has since issued an apology on-air and online for the mistaken report, calling the initial report “an honest misunderstanding of what the protesters were saying.” Jones was also interviewed on the air by Fox 45 anchor Jeff Barnd in addition to sitting down for a lengthier interview with reporter Keith Daniels.
Jones says she and her family inquired as to who edited the video in the initial report, but were told by station representatives that they were not sure.
“We were like you gotta be kidding,” said Jones of her family’s reaction to this claim of ignorance. “We’re scratching our heads like, are you serious?”
Jones said that she intentionally specified ‘killer cops’ in her chant in order to avoid lumping all police officers with those whom she feels abuse their authority and the citizenry, and that she is now fearful of retaliation from those in the law enforcement community.
“I’m in total fear, I can’t even think straight right now,” said Jones. “I literally got lost on the way driving home just because I’m constantly looking around me.”
The AFRO reached out to WBFF via email for comment, but did not receive a response prior to publication.
Link to apology:
Link to longer Fox 45 interview: