After a story in The New York Times called Michael Brown "no angel" on Monday, citing drugs, alcohol, and alleged shoplifting among the young man's "problems," scores of Twitter users reacted with tweets speculating on how their own "problems" would be portrayed by the media if were they killed by police.
The tweets, which numbered upwards of 1,700 at press time, include the hash tag #ideservedit, suggesting that the Times article, in enumerating Brown's illegal activities (and his burgeoning interest in rapping), partially blamed him for his own shooting death.
The Times' public editor, Margaret Sullivan, called the word choice a "regrettable mistake" and a "blunder" in a post on the newspaper's website, and the original article's author, John Eligon, agreed that the phrase was poorly chosen. Alison Mitchell, the Times' national editor, defended the story. "If you read the full profile, it's a sensitive, nuanced account of this young man," she said. "There was certainly no hint that this poor young man should have been shot."
Here is the tweet that sparked the hashtag:
A funeral for Brown was held in St. Louis on Monday, drawing thousands of mourners. Brown, 18, was unarmed when he was killed by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo.