Sylville K. Smith’s sister Sherelle appeared on video saying that rioters should take their protests over the shooting of her brother to the suburbs, but CNN chose not to air that part of her statement as she spoke before a group of protesters on Monday.
Instead, CNN described what Sylville’s sibling had to say as “condemning violence carried out in her brother’s name, saying the community needs these businesses [being destroyed by rioting].” Smith herself was shown on camera saying, “Don’t bring the violence here.” On Monday’s CNN Newsroom, anchor Ana Cabrera again said that Sherelle had been “calling for peace.”
— Sean Davis (@SeanKD) August 16, 2016
Several other outlets, including Russia Today, took issue with that description given the larger context of Sherelle’s speech. Sylville’s sister’s instructions to the crowd actually continued well beyond where Smith was cut off by CNN.
[The following clip contains strong language.]
“Burnin down s**t ain’t going to help nothin! Y’all burnin’ down s**t we need in our community. Take that s**t to the suburbs. Burn that s**t down! We need our sh*t! We need our weaves. I don’t wear it. But we need it.”
— DeeconX (@DeeconX) August 15, 2016
While CNN has yet to confirm why the video was edited in this way, critics of the station are saying it was an attempt to soften what Sylville’s sister originally said. Conservative outlet NewsBusters called it “a classic case of media bias by omission.”
Whether or not CNN edited the video to shape Sherelle’s comments, Smith’s sister also spoke about what she thought of the violence hitting Milwaukee in the wake of her brother’s death on another occasion as well. Speaking with the local Fox affiliate, she discouraged anyone from taking such extreme measures.
“Violence is never the key though, I’m not saying that. I don’t want anyone to be violent.”
23-year-old Sylville K. Smith was the young man killed in yesterday’s encounter with Milwaukee police. Recent pics. pic.twitter.com/L2Gi1oE8Cw
— Colorado FOP (@ColoradoFOP) August 15, 2016
Other family members of Sylville have also shared their thoughts on the riots that have torn apart Milwaukee in the aftermath of their relative’s death. Speaking with local paper Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, godmother Katherine Mahmoud expressed the Smith family’s disapproval.
“We’re not very happy about it.”
While Sylville K. Smith’s death was clearly the inciting incident, many figures in the community have stated the riots are symptomatic of a long-simmering problem with race. In fact, the Wisconsin city has some of the sharpest racial divisions in the country — with blacks and whites largely sequestered into separate neighborhoods. City Alderman Khalif Rainey called it the “worst place to live for African-Americans in the entire country.”
“What happened… may not have been right, and I am not justifying that, but no one can deny the fact that there are problems, racial problems in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that need to be rectified.”
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) August 15, 2016
Sylville K. Smith’s death by shooting is still under investigation, but it has been shared with the public that the deceased was found with a stolen gun on him. The officer who fatally shot Sherelle’s brother was wearing a body camera at the time of the incident, the footage of which will also eventually be released. After viewing the said video, both Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A Flynn and Mayor Tom Barrett expressed their confidence that the officer had responded within the law, reported Associated Press.
[Image via Katherine Welles/Shuttershock]