Simmering anger between a community organizing group and a Twin Cities TV station boiled over Friday as Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) Field Director Mike Griffin and a KSTP-TV cameraman got into a heated argument just after an NOC news conference ended at Minneapolis City Hall. Griffin wanted the camera crew to stop taking pictures of NOC organizer Navell Gorden and leave.
“We’ve asked them not to film Navell Gorden anymore,” said Griffin. “We’ve asked them not to film NOC events anymore. They still just show up and they still film us.” Gordon was a visible part of today’s news conference. “Navell Gorden is not just a blurred image. He’s a person with a name,” added Griffin.
The tensions stem from a report KSTP-TV aired last Fall where reporter Jay Kolls claimed Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Gordon were exchanging “gang signs,” because they were pointing at each other in a photo. KSTP-TV ran the photo. Gordon’s face was blurred and the station identified him as a gang member, an allegation he denied. The story went viral under the hashtag #Pointergate with many people mocking KSTP-TV by posting pictures of well-known people pointing at each other.
NOC has asked KSTP-TV repeatedly to apologize for the story and it has not.
Since then NOC has told KSTP-TV that the station’s reporters and cameras are not welcome at NOC events such as recent Black Lives Matter news conferences. NOC members have refused to talk with all of KSTP-TV’s reporters on camera, not just reporter Kolls.
On Friday, KSTP-TV showed up at Minneapolis City Hall for an NOC press conference on civic issues. After the event was over, several NOC organizers expressed disapproval.
NOC says other KSTP-TV reporters trying to distance themselves from Pointergate
KSTP-TV journalists apparently have tried to mend fences with NOC, but had no luck. NOC organizer Wintana Melekin says the station’s other reporters have contacted her and tried to distance themselves from the Pointergate story.
“A lot of reporters, a lot of people there (at KSTP-TV) have reached out to me and they say, you know, that’s not them. What happened is not them. It’s not a reflection on them,” said Melekin. “But the station still needs to make a decision. They still need to act. They still need to apologize because it did affect Navell’s life. It did affect NOC. It did affect the community. We felt hurt by it and continuously black men are being portrayed in the media as one image and they’re being used as a token thing that can be destroyed as if it’s disposable. Navell’s not disposable. None of us are disposable and you don’t get to mess with our lives for your ratings.”