Monday, June 5, 2023

Notice the difference?

(This blogpost was written Saturday morning, but publication was delayed until Monday.)

Last week the attorney representing the family of Cyrus Carmack-Belton issued a press release. The attorney is Todd Rutherford, attorney in private practice in Columbia and South Carolina State Representative. One of the local TV stations carried it on its website.

"When Cyrus Carmack-Belton’s mother sent this picture to me I had to do a double take because he looked so much like my middle son,” Rutherford said. “What happened to him wasn’t an accident: it’s something that the Black community has experienced for generations: being racially profiled, then shot down in the street like a dog. Words can’t describe the pain I feel having known this family for decades. One beacon of hope is seeing the resilience of the Black community as they wrap their arms around this family that has joined the club that no Black family ever wants to be a part of. As our firm moves forward with this case, we are working to ensure that justice prevails and work towards building a safer community for all residents of Columbia and the greater South Carolina area, regardless of race. This is why I can’t help but fight to ensure history isn’t whitewashed or forgotten. This isn’t an anomaly, but I know America can be better. And that is what we’re fighting for. Because no family should have to deal with this in 2023."

"this picture" accompanied the release.

The first thing I noticed about this picture was "RUTHERFORD LAW". My immediate thought was, "When was such a current picture of Cyrus taken at Rutherford's office?"

I noticed the institutional tile wall behind Cyrus, and I wondered whether that photo had been taken at a school.

Was it photo-shopped?

The second thing I noticed was my strong negative reaction to Rutherford's assertion that Cyrus had been "racially-profiled". I had never read any such claim in articles or words of the sheriff. So why would Rutherford write that? Is it just his own "stuff" about a black boy's being suspected of (attempted) shoplifting?

And the third thing, worse than the second and even the first, was Rutherford's claim that Cyrus had been "shot down in the street like a dog." That isn't just "lawyer-talk". That's the talk that results in more protests, rioting, street crime, property destruction, vandalism, graffiti.

Then on Friday of last week I learned of the GoFundMe account that lists Todd Rutherford as the Organizer.  And there was a very similar (identical?) photo of Cyrus, but without "RUTHERFORD LAW".

I re-read Rutherford's opening sentence, "When Cyrus Carmack-Belton’s mother sent this picture to me ..."

Was the photo that Rutherford used really the picture that Cyrus' mother had sent to him? Was it deceitful and dishonest of him to add RUTHERFORD LAW to the photo?

So, what you think of Rutherford's comments and the difference in Cyrus' pictures?