Herald, even if reluctantly, does the right thing by that poor guy in the Needham pizza place

The Outraged Liberal notes the Herald ran an apparently verbatim interview with that human-rights guy who found himself surrounded by heavily armed State Troopers for daring to seem nervous during Needham's lockdown last Friday:

... Whatever the motives (and the Herald surely is aware that Neuer, unlike Judge Ernest Murphy, is clearly not a public figure) the Herald ultimately did wipe a bit of the smear off an innocent man. But it never should have happened in the first place.

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    Huh?

    What did the Herald do wrong to get the Outraged Liberal's panties in a knot?

    They reported a major story, nothing more. That's what newspapers do.

    agreed

    I don't see how the Herald did anything wrong at all here. Their first story clearly showed that he was innocent and that the Needham police had ridiculously over-reacted. As often is the case, the Herald beat the Globe to an important local story.

    What they did wrong

    By on

    They plastered a photo on the front page under a headline about the murder even though they knew the former had nothing to do with the latter.

    More and more.

    Fiction

    By on

    "They reported a major story, nothing more" - If by "story" you mean "fiction" you're right and that is the problem.

    The tip of the iceberg ...

    I would recommend that people read a recent blog post by Bruce Schneier titled "The War on the Unexpected." An excerpt:

    If you act different, you might find yourself investigated, questioned, and even arrested -- even if you did nothing wrong, and had no intention of doing anything wrong. The problem is a combination of citizen informants and a CYA attitude among police that results in a knee-jerk escalation of reported threats.

    When I first saw this story unfolding on CNN, and then read the Herald's reporting, I was reminded of Bruce's article. It's understandable that people are a little nervous when there's a murder in your neighborhood, but the initials reactions of the pizza parlor staff, the Needham police, and the Herald was unwarranted and unfair. This was a tremendous waste of police time, and this guy's reputation will be tarnished for years because of this incident.

    911 Panic Calls

    By on

    I'm not even sure who I am defending here but I heard the 911 calls about this guy and you would have thought Jack the Ripper was running through Needham Center.I heard at least 3 calls from 3 diff people and they were freaking out. I guess the NPD may have overreacted but the Needham folks calling sure sounded scared.Maybe there not used to having outsiders in their town?

    Similar view

    By on

    Jay Fitzgerald (who works at the Herald, but not on the news desk) writes:

    ... When I first saw the photo at right on Saturday, my initial thought was, 'Is that a Needham cop holding an Uzi?' The second thought was, 'Hope they didn't arrest the wrong man.' Well, it's definitely an automatic weapon and it was indeed the wrong man. ... I know the cops were just doing their job. The 911 calls coming in were frantic. The town was in an uproar over a brutal slaying and massive manhunt. But ... but I'm still alarmed at the firepower now available in even small-town police departments. ...

    Also: Neuer should just keep on walking and fighting his good human-rights fight, rather than going down the lawsuit route.

    Small town overreaction

    By on

    I read the article about the 911 calls too. Living in Boston I don't think it would strike me as odd if a restaurant patron (a) changed clothes in the bathroom; (b) didn't eat their food; or (c) left the restaurant and came back to get the bag they forgot. I would probably assume that they were homelss, crazy, or an ivy league professor.
    However, it sounds like things are a bit more sleepy in Needham - I read that Needham hasn't had a murder since something like 1987. I guess if you live there and hear that there has been a murder (and a horrible one at that) and that the killer is "on the loose" sufficient to lock down the schools, you might get freaked out, think that mayhem is about to ensue, and head for the rumpus room in the basement of your split-level. Based on the tone of the calls, I can also understand why the police reacted the way they did. You would have thought someone was taking hostages and preparing mass murder from the call. However, why Needham needs a SWAT team if its a place where this kind of behavior freaks people out is beyond me. Sounds like 9/11 funding gone awry.

    I know it was one town over,

    By on

    I know it was one town over, but have they checked with Dee Brown to see how he feels about Hillel Neuer's treatment?

    Dee Brown

    By on

    Didn't he rob a bank in Wellesley? Or some black guy did, right?

    One account

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    New York Times:

    ... The official count last Sept. 21, when Brown was mistaken for a bank robber, was nine police officers and five guns, loaded and cocked. "Like a scene from a movie," Jill Brown recalled.

    "Bonnie and Clyde" is what the police apparently thought it was. It seemed to Jill Brown at the time that there were more than five guns, but her capacity to determine just how many may have been slightly impaired, given the hysterical fear that her fiance was in danger of being shot for having driven into town to pick up his mail. ...

    Yeah, I can't see how the

    By on

    Yeah,

    I can't see how the Executive Director of UN Watch, who famously went over to Turtle Bay and ripped the band of thieves, murderers and hypocrites calling itself the "Human Rights Council" a new one last Spring, could be considered a public figure. If there's anything good about this mess it's that it may have made Mr. Neuer a more sympathetic figure with the libs than he was previously--not that it will help any.

    Needham police did a great job

    Hindsight is 20/20. The end result here is that the guy was released after a couple of hours and everyone knows he did nothing wrong. I don't understand how people can find fault with the police--they acted appropriately in every respect. While the media was freaking out...and the public was freaking out...the police managed to catch the real perp and avoid panic that could have led to more tragedy. Certainly the memories of Virginia Tech must have been in the back of many people's minds and no one wanted to take any chances to let a murderous psychopath roam the streets while children were walking home from school.

    It is a larger, legitimate issue to discuss and debate about the sad state of affairs we have come to tolerate in this country where schools have lockdown plans and SWAT teams can be deployed at a moment's notice. But the story in Needham is not about that, it is about how a kind, generous, friendly man was brutally attacked and murdered by a guy he had hired to install a sprinkler system. It's a story about how a community that had not seen a murder in 20 years acted quickly, decisively, and professionally to contain the threat, catch the criminal, and protect itself with minimal if any violence to anyone's civil rights. I can't see there is much to be upset about--and those who do "take the bait" are playing right into the hands of the Herald and other media who just want us to all be angry about nothing. We should be sad, not angry.