When Detective Melvin Santiago, 23, was ambushed while responding to an armed suspect call, the Jersey City community responded with shock and sadness. Or at least most of the residents of this city did. Officer Santiago was performing a duty he had sworn to uphold – to protect and serve Jersey City residents while his assailant, 27 year old Lawrence Campbell bragged that he was going to be “famous” that day. Perhaps infamous would have been a better choice of words.
Campbell reportedly told a witness that he was going to be “famous,” because of what he was intending to do and his widow, Angelique, told News 12 New Jersey reporters that he should’ve killed more cops if he was going to “be shot in the street”. A reporter for that local news station, Sean Bergin, questioned his station management when they elected to run the interview with Campbell’s wife. The station ran the piece despite Bergin’s protests and the backlash from pro- law enforcement viewers was swift and angry.
As a result, Bergin offered an opinion on air – an act expressly prohibited by news shows. While this is considered acceptable for talk news shows, this is verboten for standard media outlets. According to Bergin, this “anti-cop mentality” has “so contaminated America’s inner cities” because of “young black men growing up without fathers.” Bergin went on to state that, “Unfortunately, no one in the news media has the courage to touch that subject.” It seems that the truth shall indeed set you free (or at least get you into the unemployment line) because Bergin was immediately suspended as a result of his commentary.
Perhaps Bergin spoke under duress from the wave of criticism for the airing of the “grieving widow footage” – a heat-of-the-moment, heartfelt attempt to kick some kitty litter on what the station was promoting. Bergin told it like it is and his statements cost him his job. Arguably, he did cross a line in the performance of his duties as a reporter but no one should lose sight of the fact that the station crossed a line, as well.
Why didn’t News 12 reach out to the grieving family of Officer Santiago or get a statement from the Jersey City Police Chief and run that? Instead, they focused on a spontaneous gathering of graffiti and an old tee-shirt used as a make-shift tribute to a drug abusing, streetwise thug who was wanted in regard to a separate homicide?
When did the pendulum swing so far to the left that this nation now embraces the rights of idiots and decries the honest opinion of a reasonable and prudent person? To add insult to injury, the American Civil Liberties Union spoke out on behalf of the family’s right to free speech when the Jersey City mayor ordered the memorial to be taken down.
It is a travesty of justice and a tragedy for America that the life of a young, dedicated police officer is lost due to the actions of a violent criminal who served no useful purpose in free society. Campbell got what he deserved and the news outlets should have said so.
Hollywood and mainstream media are to blame for glamorizing the misadventures of these thugs with “reality TV” and music videos that promote guns, drugs and violent crime.
The Eagles band summed it up best in their song, Dirty Laundry with one line that says, “get the widow on the set”.
“I make my living off the evening news
Just give me something – something I can use
People love it when you lose,
They love dirty laundry.”
Let’s hope that the pendulum swings back before law, order and the safety of all law abiding citizens are lost down the drain as a result of dirty laundry.