In response to reports of gun violence in Chicago, Houston-based radio host Michael Berry has devoted a weekly segment on his show to reading off victims' names and mocking their injuries and deaths, in an attempt to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement.
Berry Is A Right-Wing Talk Radio Host Who Frequently Relies On Racially-Charged Programming
Michael Berry Is Listed As Number 16 In Talkers magazine's “Heavy Hundred” Talk Radio Hosts. Michael Berry is a Houston-based radio show host listed as number 16 in Talkers' "Heavy Hundred." The Michael Berry Show relies heavily on conservative political commentary and racially-charged rhetoric, including gimmicks such as sketch comedy performed by blackface comedian Chuck Knupp. Berry often comments on black crime in disparaging ways and mocks civil rights advocacy. Berry hosts political guests, including presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). In 2012, while introducing Cruz during his Senate primary campaign victory party, Berry told the crowd he was proud to have been friends with Cruz “for over 10 years.” [Talkers, accessed 9/30/15; Media Matters 6/11/15; YouTube, 8/4/15]
Berry Has Claimed “Black People Don't Believe Black Lives Matter.”
Berry: “The Dirty Little Secret Is, Black People Don't Believe Black Lives Matter.” On his March 12 show, while discussing a video that showed an African-American girl being attacked and beaten in a McDonald's restaurant, Berry declared that “black people don't believe that black lives matter:”
You know why white lives matter? Because that's what white people believe. The dirty little secret is, black people don't believe that black lives matter.
Chris Rock has made very clear there are different types of black people. And the general manager at your company who's black and a super-nice guy doesn't want to live amongst that, either.
But we can't deny the influence that this subculture is having on our society. You can go and hide behind your gates. Y'all can hire a guard at night. But eventually, a Trayvon Martin's going to come walking through your yard, at night, on suspension from school. Because his dad has a good job and he lives there. And he lives in a world of thuggery, and his dad doesn't. That's actually -- that was the case there. But he was a thug, who went to school with other thugs. [The Michael Berry Show, 3/12/15 , via Media Matters 6/11/15]
In Response To Gun Violence in Chicago, Berry Launched A Weekly Segment That Makes Fun Of City's Victims -- Including A 14-Year-Old Shot In The Face
Berry On A 14-Year-Old Victim Just Days After He Was Killed: “He Was Shot In The Head And Died At The Scene. He Won't Have To Live With That Name Anymore.” During Berry's September 21 broadcast, he brought up the murder of Tyjuan Poindexter, a 14-year-old bystander who was shot and killed. Berry mocked the child's name, saying, “Tyjuan Poindexter. Ha ha. Tyjuan Poindexter was standing outside with some friends when some people drove by and opened fire. Young Mister Poindexter was shot in the head and died at the scene. He won't have to live with that name anymore.” Berry continued to mock gun violence victims, saying of another fatal shooting: “Most people dove under cars. Not the fat ones. But Mr. Lewis was left exposed to fire and took several bullets in the chest. He died about two hours later at the hospital.” [The Michael Berry Show, 9/21/15]
Chicago Tribune: Tyjaun Poindexter Was An Innocent Bystander Who Loved Wrestling And Drawing. According to a Chicago Tribune report on the shooting, Tyjuan Poindexter was killed while walking to play basketball with friends. He was unaffiliated with any gangs, and enjoyed wrestling and drawing custom shoes:
“He don't go nowhere, he don't have no Facebook, if he don't have family with him he goes nowhere,” said [Tyjaun's mother Michelle] Poindexter, 35. “They used to taunt him: 'Your mother walking you to school?' But that's my prerogative.”
On Saturday, 14-year-old Tyjuan begged her to let him go out with his friends unattended.
“He asked me and I said no,” she said. “He asked me again and I said OK, but please come back early.”
Later that evening she got a phone call: Tyjuan had been shot.
He was on his way to play basketball at 7:30 p.m. when police said a vehicle drove by and someone inside fired on him and his friends.
Tyjuan was shot in the head. He died in a driveway near the corner of 44th Street and South Greenwood Avenue in the North Kenwood neighborhood on the South Side.
Neither Tyjuan nor [Kimberly] Well's son had any gang affiliations or criminal record, authorities said. Tyjuan's mother insisted gangbanging just wasn't in his nature.
“He loved everybody,” she said. “Every time when I'm down, he says, 'Hey, Mom, what can I do?' ”
In his spare time, he would draw designs for custom gym shoes. And he was obsessed with wrestling, she said, especially Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. [Chicago Tribune, 9/21/15]
Berry Calls His Regular Mockery Of Black Victims In Chicago The “Butcher Bill”
Berry Calls His Chicago Crime Segment The “Butcher Bill.” In describing violence in Chicago during a July 13 broadcast, Berry referred to the list of murder victims as the “butcher bill.” Berry went on to mock the names of victims and ask his audience to guess where each victim -- including a 12-year-old boy -- was physically shot, joking, “There's so many parts upon which you can be shot.” In one instance, Berry mocked 19-year-old murder victim Pierre Dobyne by saying, “His last words reportedly were laughing at someone for approaching him in a minivan. That's not true, but it would be good wouldn't it? 'Oh man, tell me I'm not about to be gunned down by some dudes in a minivan. What kind of self-respecting gang steals a minivan to come kill me in?'” Berry ended the segment by saying, “A 23-year-old man was wounded when a dark-colored car drove by and shot the victim in the -- face! He got a facial. Yeah. Huh huh huh. No, his name was not [inaudible]. No, that's a serious facial right there, yeah.” [The Michael Berry Show, 7/13/15]
Berry Encouraged Listeners To Guess Where Victims Were Shot, Saying, “I Hope You're Playing Along At Home.” During one episode of Berry's weekly crime report, he made a game for listeners to guess where victims of violence were physically shot, saying, “What's crazy is none of these things seem to get the media attention as when one of these people runs at a cop, tries to kill him, and ends up dead. It's almost as if we're ignoring all of these murders. But if most of these were black, don't all black lives matter?” Berry said of one victim, “24-year-old man outside when he heard shots and felt pain, he was shot in the -- upper left chest. Critical condition. He had no heart.” [The Michael Berry Show, 7/20/15]
Berry Mocked Bystander Shooting Victim, Saying, “We Went From Billy The Kid To Donnell The Dealer.” During a July 27 broadcast, Berry reported on the shooting death of 17-year-old Donnell Morrison and said, “We have gone from Billy the Kid to Donnell the Dealer. Now, we don't know that Donnell was a dealer, but we don't know that Billy was a kid either.” Berry also found it funny that victims in a car were hit by gunfire from the sidewalk, saying, “Interesting twist on a drive-by. This time the victims were the ones driving. [Laughs] We got hit by a drive-by, or maybe you could call that a 'walk-by.' Both men were shot multiple times and were pronounced dead at the scene.” [The Michael Berry Show, 7/27/15]
Berry: “The Residents Of The South And The West Sides Of [Chicago] Chose To Engage In A Typical Weekend Of Lead Poisoning.” Berry introduced his Chicago crime report segment during an August 3 broadcast by saying that over the weekend, the white population of Chicago “experienced alcohol poisoning in the annual booze-and-drug-filled orgy known as Lollapalooza,” while “the residents of the south and the west side of [Chicago] chose to engage in a typical weekend of lead poisoning.” Berry said of one victim who was shot in the leg, “He's a 'leg man.'” [The Michael Berry Show, 8/3/15]
Berry: “The Weekend Also Saw Chicago Hit A Milestone Of 290 Homicides. Way To Go Chicago!” During an August 10 broadcast, Berry congratulated Chicago on reports that there had been 290 murders in the city so far that year. After exclaiming, “Way to go Chicago!” Berry clapped and rang a bell in mock celebration. While reading a report of one shooting, Berry said, “Do you know what you call someone who shoots somebody right there? A hip pointer. See he pointed at the -- yeah -- see what I did there?” A hip pointer is a name for a common sports injury. Berry also said of a multiple gunshot victim, “He felt the the burn, but Bernie Sanders wasn't speaking.” [The Michael Berry Show, 8/10/15]
Berry: “Our Sponsor For This Week's Chicago Weekend Crime Update Is ... Black Lives Matter.” During an August 17 broadcast, Berry mocked 19-year-old shooting victim, saying he “lingered 20 more hours before shuffling off his mortal coil” and reenacting what he imagined the victim's last moments were like before he was shot. Berry ended the segment by saying it was sponsored by the Black Lives Matter movement. [The Michael Berry Show, 8/17/15]
Berry: “Eight Shooting Deaths In A Single Day Was The Biggest Since 2003. Way To Go Chicago, You Black Lives Matters Dumb Asses.” During a September 8 broadcast, Berry noted the high level of violence of the past weekend by saying, “Eight shooting deaths in a single day was the biggest since 2003. Way to go Chicago, you black lives matters dumb asses.” Berry continued, “Chicago has seen a 15 percent increase in the homicide rate, because -- all together now -- black lives matter, apparently more so when lying face down in a pool of blood in the streets of Chicago at the hands of a black man.” [The Michael Berry Show, 9/8/15]
Berry During “Latest Installment Of Black People Shooting Black People:” “I'm Not Sure There Is A Purpose For The 'Po-Po' In The Hood. I Think We Can Just Pull Back And Let Them Have At It.” Discussing several incidents where people did not cooperate with the police following shootings in Chicago, Berry suggested that the police may not serve a purpose “in the hood” and that “we can just pull back and let them have at it.” [The Michael Berry Show, 9/14/15]
Berry: 47-Year-Old Gun Violence Victim “Was Shot In Her Big Ol' Buttocks.” During his September 28 broadcast, Berry also joked about a man and a woman who were shot in the early morning hours, stating, “They must have got up early to go to work,” and, “I bet they had to miss work that day.” [The Michael Berry Show, 9/28/15]
Chicago's Gun Violence Has Taken A Toll On Innocent Lives
Chicago Tribune: Spate Of Shootings “Follows Two Straight Weekends When More Than 50 People Were Shot In Chicago.” On September 29, the Chicago Tribune reported that six people were killed and several more wounded, including children, during the start of the week (emphasis added):
Six people were killed and at least eight people were wounded, including an 11-month-old boy and a 2-year-old boy, during a bloody start to the week in Chicago that saw 10 of the victims shot at two scenes less that three miles apart on the South Side.
The first of those shootings occurred Monday evening when a family on their way back from an outing was gunned down in the Back of the Yards, leaving a pregnant mother and grandmother dead and three others -- including an 11-month-old boy -- wounded, police said.
The second multiple shooting occurred about five hours later when two men and the mother of a 4-year-old were killed and two other people were wounded near a playground in the Fuller Park neighborhood on the South Side, according to police. A sister said the woman was killed coming to the aid of a relative.
The burst of violence follows two straight weekends when more than 50 people were shot in Chicago. That's the first time that has happened on back-to-back weekends over the four years the Tribune has been tracking shootings. In August, more than 40 were shot on four consecutive weekends.
So far this year, at least 2,300 people have been shot in Chicago, about 400 more than the same period last year, according to Tribune analysis. Through Sunday, homicides have risen to 359, up 21 percent from 296 a year earlier, according to preliminary data from Chicago police. [Chicago Tribune, 9/28/15]
Conservative Media Often Hype Gun Violence In Chicago To Criticize Its Strong Gun Laws, Even Though Several Big Cities Have Weaker Gun Laws And More Violence. While high levels of gun violence in Chicago are often used to attack calls for stronger gun laws, the five cities with the top gun murder rates (New Orleans, Louisiana, Memphis, Tennessee, Detroit, Michigan, Birmingham, Alabama, and St. Louis, Missouri) all have weaker gun laws. [Parents Against Gun Violence, accessed 9/30/15]
To read more about conservative media claims about gun violence and Chicago, click here.