NYPD Medical Examiner Linked to 2004 Murder

Bhaskar Sunkara

Apologies for the sensationalist title. But more apologies are owed by a New York Police Department and a mainstream media ever eager to portray Occupy Wall Street in the worst light possible.

Yesterday was a bizarre case study. DNA evidence, an unnamed source told NBC, linked an unsolved 2004 Inwood murder with an Occupy action. The victim, Sarah Fox, was a New York City drama student. Her possible killer left DNA on her CD player, which seemed to match DNA taken from a chain transit workers used to hold open subway doors during a wildcat fare strike.

The media jumped on the story with headlines like DNA links Occupy protest scene to 2004 murder,” DNA ties 2004 NYC murder to Occupy protest, sources say‎” and, even worse, the unapologetically corny, Occupy Wall Street Chained to 2004 Murder‎.”

Then later in the day came news that the DNA matched due to contamination. It belonged to a lab worker who dealt with both cases. We all make mistakes, I guess. But why was the story leaked in the first place and why would reputable media outlets announce a link between Occupy and a murder based on the testimony of one dubious source?

And beyond the activists unfairly slandered, think about Sarah Fox’s family; given false hope that justice and closure could be reached.

But there’s another way to view the narrative. No doubt, murderers took part in the nationwide Occupy movement. We should hope so. Murderers buy the same half-stale bagels from Dunkin’ Donuts, ride the same buses, and piss in the same public urinals as us. A movement against economic inequality should be large and visible enough that some of them, on a day off perhaps, would find themselves embroiled in a protest or two.

Well, maybe not. My math’s probably off. But if there’s one thing worth remembering from this episode it’s that Occupy Wall Street still has enemies who think it’s worth slandering. Find solace in that and then confirm their fears.

Bhaskar Sunkara is the founding editor of Jacobin magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @sunraysunray.
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