Two black teens have been charged with assault and arson related to the brutal death of a mentally ill white man in Rochester, New York.
The two teens allegedly sneaked into a man’s home on Friday afternoon, sprayed him with an ignitable fluid, and set him ablaze until approximately 70 percent of his body was covered in second- and third-degree burns. They apparently left him there to die.
A man—later identified as either a mail carrier or a gas and electric worker—busted into the apartment in an attempt to put out the flames on the victim. By the time the authorities arrived on the scene, it was too late. The victim spent the next four days in a burn trauma unit before passing away.
Though the story was originally published by WHAM 13 News, the races of the individuals involved were not initially specified, possibly in an attempt to play down a hate crime motive.
Rochester journalist and radio host Bob Lansberry made the races public and highlighted the double standard in news coverage that has contributed to the deterioration of Rochester—a city engulfed in a violent campaign against the police over alleged racism following the death of George Floyd over the summer.
Lonsberry tweeted: “The mentally ill white man set afire Friday by two black teens died this morning.”
While citing law enforcement sources, Lonsberry reported that the teens involved instructed the victim during the incident to tell authorities that it was two white men who had committed the crime.
A police source stated:
“A man has died after suffering second and third-degree burns over 70 percent of his body – days after Rochester Police say he was intentionally set on fire by two teenage boys,” WHAM 13 reported on the crime.
“Investigators said the man, whose name has not been released, was sitting in a chair in his apartment on Lyell Avenue near Murray Street on Friday. According to officers, the two teenagers — ages 14 and 16 — sprayed the man with an ignitable fluid, then set him on fire.”
“Both teenagers were charged with first-degree assault,” the report added. “The 16-year-old is charged with second-degree attempted arson, while the 14-year-old was charged with second-degree arson.”
Lonsberry informed his readers Monday via Twitter: “If two white teens had set a mentally ill black man on fire last Friday on Lyell Avenue, how many floors at the Strathallan would be set aside for national media today? #ROC,” referring to a local hotel.
As Lonsberry notes, national media remains silence on the story and there’s been a near total blackout of publicly announcing the races involved in the crime.
The races of those involved may not play into the impetus for the crime, but had the races been reversed, the national media almost certainly would have projected the crime to be motivated by hate, critics say. If police sources are correct, however, race was a factor when the teens reportedly told their victim to say he was set on fire by white men.
The Daily Wire reports:
Due to this claim, the racial connection is stronger than in many other national stories the media framed through a racial lens. News reports of the incidents concerning Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner and George Floyd, for example, were not shown to be connected to race, other than the media’s injection of the issue into the tragic incidents.
“In a world where everything anymore seems to be about race, nobody wanted to mention the fact that the teens where black and the old man was white, and they watched him burn a bit, after they sprayed him and lit him, and they told him to say it was two white guys who did it,” Lonsberry wrote.
“Nobody will ask if it was a hate crime,” he added.