The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

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Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Free Press scalps The Black Rod for the true story about the Matthew Dumas shooting

Imagine our surprise to find a story from The Black Rod in the Winnipeg Free Press --- without attribution.

Oh, not the attribution part. We've come to expect that whenever we see the FP cribbing one of our stories.

The surprise was in seeing which story they scalped. And trying to guess why.

Last April, almost one year ago, in an exclusive story, The Black Rod told how a 10-year-old girl witnessed Matthew Dumas fighting with police in a back lane mere minutes before he was shot to death by a police officer on Dufferin Avenue.

It was the critical piece of the puzzle to understanding what happened that afternoon and what was going through the minds of Dumas and the police officers chasing him.The Winnipeg Free Press, along with the other mainstream media in Winnipeg, have studiously avoided reporting our exclusive, until now.

In a story about the gunning down on Saturday of Leon Dumas, the cousin of Matthew Dumas, reporter Bruce Owen writes:

"Matthew Dumas was fatally shot by a city police officer Jan.31 last year on Dufferin Avenue. He had been involved in a struggle with an officer in a back lane and broke away to run to the front street, where other officers pepper-sprayed him in an attempt to subdue him."

With that, the Free Press has finally broken the silence about what happened the day Matthew Dumas was killed.

The full details are still only in The Black Rod, but we applaud the fact that the truth of the case is being made public at last -- however abridged.

The MSM in Winnipeg has been pretending the story didn't exist for almost 12 months now. CBC confirmed our exclusive story, then sat on it because it contradicted the false CBC story that blamed the police for failing to arrest Dumas when they had a chance. The North End Times, a sister publication to the Free Press, confirmed our story separately, then suppressed it for the same reason.

Why has the Free Press finally run with it?

We suspect its because its already been more than a year since Dumas was shot and there's no hint of when an Inquest will be held. The so-called professional jounalists in town prefer to have their stories spoonfed to them by "official" channels, like an Inquest. But waiting for what could be a second year yet before the story is told officially seemed pointless.

Or maybe they were ashamed of the unmitigated revisionism evident in their coverage on the anniversary of the fatal Matthew Dumas shooting.

On Feb. 1, reporter Gabrielle Giroday wrote about 120 friends and family gathering "at a small snow covered plot of land on Dufferin Avenue to commemorate the occasion."

" Family members insist Dumas was not connected to the robbery police were investigating when he was chased and he had been walking on the street innocently by himself."

No he wasn't.

Police approached a group of 4 young men when Dumas bolted from the group and led the police on a chase. Prior to Giroday's story, there had been no question about Dumas running away from police and drawing attention to himself by his suspicious behavior.

Maybe Bruce Owen saw this as an opportunity to correct the record and slipped in The Black Rod's research about the altercation and escape in the lane.

Or maybe the newroom honchos were so busy trying to suck up to the new publisher by claiming our research as theirs, they forgot about the falsehoods Giroday reported only 2 months ago.

In the meantime, we'll have to have a few words with publisher Andy Ritchie about the ethics of professional journalists' taking credit for the work of bloggers. And while we do, we'll leave you with another exclusive story, and see how long before it surfaces in the MSM.

A week ago, five healthy young men in matching outfits walked into a local bar. We'll keep the name of the establishmen out of it, but suffice to say that if you scanned a list of bars from A to Z you would recognize it as one of the city's better known watering holes. The men, also unnamed, appeared intent on becoming better known, for better or worse.

What drew the attention of onlookers, was the unique crest worn on the leather jacket of each man. It bore a name. Something like Los Montagneros, which the more observant readers of The Black Rod will recall is the name of the so-called puppet club set up by the Bandidos motorcycle club. The jackets also carried four initials: S.Y.L.B., which astute observers of the scene will tell you stands for Support Your Local Bandidos.

Apparently, word of the appearance of the jacketed group spread like wildfire thanks to cell phone technology. It seemed like no-time before three members of the Hell's Angels rushed to the bar. The trio is well-known to even casual newspaper readers--Billy Bowden, Dale Donovan and Darren Hunter. But by the time they assembled, the other group had departed, having made their point.

And that point being: we're here.

Now, it's known that there's a worldwide truce between the Hell's Angels and the Bandidos. Given the depletion of the Hell's Angels ranks due to recent arrests, its unlikely anyone on their side wants to upset the balance. But territory carries a high value in certain circles, and some noses may be out of joint ( figuratively speaking, of course) over an incursion that appears more deliberate than accidental.

The burning question now is whether the truce applies to puppet clubs. And whether some hotheads can be trusted to let sleeping dogs lie.

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