January 31, 2013
The mother of 24-year-old Richard Spears said when she saw her son's picture in the C-Ville Weekly's December article about a random attack on the Downtown Mall that may have been related to the racially charged "Knock Out" game, she couldn't believe her eyes.
"I called every friend, anybody that knew somebody that can help somebody straighten out this person at C-Ville Weekly," said Georgene Spears. "I know my son...That's not my son's character."
Days after the story was published, Spears and his friend, Malcolm Stevenson, turned themselves in to Charlottesville Police to face assault and battery charges. But the two men say the fight was far from a random attack and during a press conference Police Chief Tim Longo confirmed the altercation had nothing to do with the "Knock Out" game. On Tuesday, Spears and Stevenson filed charges against their alleged victims, Marc Adams and Jeanne Doucette.
The two men spoke to the crowd of a few dozen people who gathered Friday on the Downtown Mall to show their support, but they did not speak to the media, citing their ongoing litigation. While the criminal charges are sorted out in a courtroom, family and friends of Stevenson and Spears want C-Ville Weekly's staff to take responsibility for what they call "racially charged" reporting.
"There are journalist standards that need to be adhered to," said Jeff Winder. "C-Ville didn't adhere to those standards. They reported on a story in a sensationalist way that inflamed racial tensions and hurt people."
C-Ville Weekly changed its policy last summer after facing similar backlash for publishing an anonymous racist rant.
"I think they need to be accountable," said Spears' mother Georgene.
The offices of C-Ville Weekly were empty during the protest. Editor Giles Morris has not responded to requests for comment.