Thursday, December 4


Dear KTAR Phoenix

It was fairly routine, your invitation to a press conference at a prominent valley law firm this afternoon. You didn't give it much thought, after all, the leading news story today was a dog mauling. Blood is good. News is all about competition. And entertainment. So today's official announcement of another law suit against the city didn't seem to merit sending your top reporter. Too bad.

When your representative made her grand entrance, she was unaware of the invisible ones. Clad in a low-cut, too-tight dress and knee-high boots, she casually picked up her press kit envelope and found a seat in the front row. Tripods in place, t.v. cameras secured, reporters seated comfortably with notepads at the ready; there was very little attention to the grisly bulletin board display of crash scene photos placed next to the smiling faces of people who are no longer with us.
Asia ^ the demolished bus stop to the right of her image

There were exchanges of pleasantries and hellos between media colleagues, and a little sense of impatience as they waited for the press conference to begin. We who were not seen could see all of this.
A tall, distinguished man entered the room and stood behind all the media microphones at the podium. He was Dick Treon. We knew him.

He began his presentation on behalf of the Ahmad family, whose 24 year old son and brother was killed in a high-speed police chase one year ago tomorrow. We listened in sickened silence to a truly obscene aspect of the case: the bank robber's measly $13,000 was marked with an electronic tracking device which effortlessly alerted the authorities to his whereabouts. In addition to multiple unmarked vehicles, a police helicopter also followed the suspect from the sky. The first street chase was aborted once the thief began driving recklessly. This action follows policy. What does not follow policy or logic, was the renewal of the chase many miles and several cities later. The second chase attracted a literal glut of some 20 police vehicles.

A beautiful twin sister spoke of her missing other half, his humor, his goodness, his innocence. She couldn't stop looking at the pictures on the wall. The family was asked to leave the room. We watched video clips of the last nano-seconds of the chase, mercifully edited to avoid the moment of impact, but the effect was violently disturbing anyway.

Many of the invisible ones began silently weeping, but one gave a little sob out loud. She was my daughter. One of the cameras whirled around to sweep for the source of the painful sound.

Then there was another sound, the harsh sound of your reporter, asking the most idiotic question. The answer was concise and articulated in simple terms. Her question was moot. However, she obsessed with it, and continued to harp 4 more times if the perpetrator had not 'committed suicide' by crashing head-on at 110 mph to Alex Ahmad's car as the city claims. The fact that 4 different law enforcement agencies were engaging in a second chase against their own policy and against the logic of waiting for the electronic beacon to guide them to the suspect when he finally stopped and put his feet up - was not important to your stylish reporter. Money was. She made a comment about the dollar amount of the law suit. Mr. Treon said what the invisibles knew; it wasn't the money. It was only the means by which the public could frighten the arrogance of the police to stop the slaughter of innocent people. Something had to interrupt their cowboy testosterone pursuit reaction to a minor bank robbery, or a stolen truck.

A woman who was one of us, suddenly became visible. She spoke out loud. She began telling her story of how a 27 mile police chase that began in Gold Canyon ended in their engine block in Superior. Her broken neck and broken body and her husband's broken body were the price for a stolen car. We didn't hear her story though, because on an unspoken signal, the cameramen were packing up their equipment. Reporters closed their notebooks, stood and began to leave, chatting with each other. The woman continued talking, nearly invisible once again. We were stunned.

One voice flew out from the back. It was a young voice, charged with emotion, a suitable emphasis to her hand poking the air above her. "Are you done?!" she said. "You are so rude! You're leaving?! That's it?"

Conversation stopped. Several cameras spun around. Faces turned - surprised. I said, "Is this the standard protocol - some arbitrary decision that you are all finished while a woman - a survivor - is telling her story?! These are real people! This is the story, too!" David spoke up. The cameras approached us, and a few reporters seemed genuinely bewildered at our hurt. But this was not the case with your reporter, KTAR. She knew something we obviously didn't. She remained where she was, at the front of the room, her hand now in the air in the proverbial 'stop' signal, her voice raised much too loud as she shot a very disrespectful, "with all due respect -" aimed at my 19 year old daughter, one of the crime victims, the one mentioned by name during Treon's presentation. One that had survived.

Asia and bodyguard

Asia cut her off, "NO! YOU be quiet! You HAD your turn!" KTAR turned on a spiked heel and stomped out of the room, safely removed from the invisibles who dared break with holy tradition of muteness. "I'd like my leg back - " Asia continued. She gestured to the camera. "You can look at it. I don't care," and looking up again to the whole room of a dissolving press conference she said forcefully, "but what happened to me is nothing compared to losing someone. People died, here!" A few reporters were now trying to apologize. They wanted to explain that "we" were not customarily "available" to the press. "So why are we here?!" Asia would not be stopped. The three of us hammered what diminished press corps still remained. I wanted to shame them into opening their eyes to all the invisibles in their midst. We demanded they never conduct a press conference the same again.

Only 3 reporters humbled themselves, they assured us they did indeed want to acknowledge us, to see us after all. One especially was aware. We were finally exposed ~ and the force of this acceptance was overwhelming to the husband of the first woman. He hugged my little girl, and sobbed openly in her arms, a husky frame shaking as if his heart would break. He tried but could not describe feelings that were too painful to express. His name was Robert. I promised him we would pray for him. It was a room of pain, but also of relief.

Jeanne, Asia, Dick Treon, Christina - a fighting team

A young man approached me. He wanted to touch me, to hug, to shake my hand, to thank us for speaking up. He was married to Alex Ahmad's older sister. She was the next person to hug me. There was something important happening in our emotional circles of touching other human beings we did not know. But it seems in moments like these, we can learn what we need to know about others in a very short amount of time. I could feel - in my chest - that Mr. Richard Treon was a very good person. We were all part of an effort to call the police to accountability, that the emblem on their cruiser doors 'to protect and serve' would actually be honored one fine day. In a post 9-11 world, this is an unpopular crusade. We very much want to support those who are supposed to protect us, because there are scarier things out there. But today a very young, very scarred girl stood up to the establishment and defined being humane.

Into the camera, into the microphones, she summed up the press, the police department and the city officials: "...they should do the right thing." When asked if she felt a sense of justice for herself, she answered that she was grateful. Grateful to firemen, paramedics, those who fought for her, and the surgeons. "Has anyone apologized to you?" Mr. Camacho asked gently. Asia looked him in the eye and replied solemnly, "The only one who ever said they were sorry, was Archie Ruiz." (perpetrator, at the sentencing)

I would have liked to ask Ms. KTAR when she lost her passion for journalism. A career that used to symbolize a trust with, and a service to the public. I would have, but she already got her story. It was about the money. Sandra Haros, shame on you. You are exposed.


Yaj said...

It's never about the people, or the circumstance or even the story - it's about them.

Who are "them?"

The press, who is no longer the press. It's now about awards they give themselves, well, and influencing opinion. They give themselves awards for their timely and terrific "coverage." Even when the coverage ridiculous or incorrect or off the mark - they decide what is the "news" and decide the angle to present it and its importance. And when to leave...

Oh, the clothing and make up are SO important to that process. Don't discount that importance!

Good for Asia! She saw through it all. And another sees through "them." Welcome to the club...

Cynthia said...

Good for you guys for speaking up. I saw the news clip with Asia speaking. Way to go.

Yaj said...

There's a news clip!!

Send or publish! See!?


rachel said...

she doesn't even look like the type that got into reporting for the right reasons anyways. How ridiculous. Go Asia.