Ismael Chamu is a Berkeley antifa activist who was charged with vandalism last July for allegedly spray painting people’s cars and fences with “F— White People,” “F— the police,” “F— frat Boys,” “Kill Cops”, “Kill Yuppies,” “Eat the Rich,” “Class War”, etc. This story is especially important to us because our reporting was instrumental in these charges.
Here is a refresher for those of you not familiar with Ismael Chamu:
On June 27th, 2017 Ismael was arrested with a knife in the same location and on the same night that 30 instances of slashed tires and graffiti occurred. After spending 39 hours in police custody he was released without charge where he immediately claimed that his arrest was the result of “racial profiling”. This was followed by an outcry of public support for Ismael and condemnation of the Berkeley Police Department. The ACUS Senate and even Berkeley Mayor, Jesse Arreguín, publicly condemned Ismael’s “unlawful detainment”.
Who is Ismael Chamu? Well, let’s let him tell you in his own words. The following is from a blog that he published on April 4th, 2017 shortly before he was arrested:
That’s right, before he was arrested in relation to 30 instances of anti-gentrification vandalism he published a blog (he deleted this post but fortunately we were able to archive it first) advocating for anti-gentrification vandalism. In that same blog he also refers to gentrification as a “disease” and praises the violent tactics of Antifa:
If this weren’t enough, he has also published several inflammatory anti-white posts on his Facebook page, which has since been deleted entirely. But not to worry, we archived those as well:
After we originally published the above information about his blog and public calls for criminal activity, we contacted the Berkeley Police Department and encouraged our readers to do the same. Shortly after he was arrested and charged for these crimes.
So why are we talking about him again? Well, the Los Angeles Times just ran a piece titled “He attends elite UC Berkeley but lives in a trailer with no heat or sewer hookups. Soon, he’ll be scrambling to find new shelter“. In this article, Chamu is portrayed as a victim of the system because his financial aid does not fully cover the cost of his housing. In the original version of the article there was no mention of his affiliation with the domestic extremist group, antifa, and nothing about his recent arrests prompting multiple twitter users to point out that this information was omitted:
LA Times forgot to mention Ismael Chamu has been arrested multiple times for felony vandalism, knife possession, etc. Funny how the times forgets to include this info. https://t.co/6Mh2NkYjyB
— aj (@acaliburrito1) March 12, 2018
— Carol May (@ridgeley) March 13, 2018
The article was later updated with the following editors note:
4:05 p.m.: This article has been updated to include details of Ismael’s arrest last year on vandalism charges. He has pleaded not guilty and has not been convicted.
So what did members of the media have to say about Ismael?
Here Jose Del Real, a correspondent for the New York Times, calls him a “remarkable young man”:
Ismael Chamu is a remarkable young man. Please take some time to read this profile of a young man trying to escape poverty. https://t.co/KCDja8n3ZW
— Jose A. Del Real (@jdelreal) March 11, 2018
And here, Melanie Mason, a reporter for the LA Times praises Chamu:
The grit and determination of Ismael Chamu is jaw-dropping. Kudos to @TeresaWatanabe for telling his story and deftly capturing the affordable housing crisis for CA's college students https://t.co/eRFQHxZdva
— Melanie Mason (@melmason) March 12, 2018
It is unlikely that either of these journalists knew about Chamu’s arrests or affiliation with domestic extremist groups when they made these tweets but this is an important lesson on the role our media plays in shaping societal narratives. Would the author of the LA Times article have even made the update if people familiar with Ismael had not contacted her? Not likely. And that is troubling.
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