A real story turned fake witch hunt
The Fake Mugshot
This isn’t the first time the wrong photo of a suspected criminal has been passed around the Internet and accepted as fact, even putting people’s lives in danger.
If you search for pictures of Brittany Herring, you’re likely to see the above photo of somebody crying. Only that isn’t Brittany Herring at all. Her name is Brittany Shalynn Davis, a Texas woman arrested after being accused of luring a man she met on an online dating site to be robbed at gunpoint. Charges against her were later dropped.
A Real—But Unrelated—Mugshot
Sleuths later found an actual mugshot of the Brittany in question, but it’s important to note that it is unrelated to the current kidnapping case. This mugshot from the Chicago Police Department shows Herring (Covington) after an October 2016 arrest for retail theft.
While some sources were hesitant at first to even claim Covington was also Herring, social media took and warped the picture to further fuel the flames, whether claiming that it was her mugshot for the kidnapping or baiting people to believe she was only being held on $1,500 for her egregious crimes.
So even though the mugshot making waves online is of an innocent woman living half a country away, the revelation hasn’t stopped eager trolls and other people enraged by the true Brittany’s crime from using the picture in their fight for justice. Not only is this dangerous for the livelihood of Shalynn Davis, it’s lazy and downright stupid, if not racist in and of itself. At least one Facebook group created to bring Herring to justice was still using the mugshot of Shalynn Davis after the news broke of who it truly was.
Fake news is everywhere. Sometimes it’s both hard and frustrating to remember that we need to take all information with a grain of salt, even when it’s coming from historically reliable sources.
What’s more frightening is the culture behind how fake news starts and spreads. Who was the first person to pull up an unrelated mugshot and pass it off as the Brittany in question? Did they pick it because of the name? Or did they see the photo of a crying black woman under arrest and use it to further fuel the (well-founded) anger of those outraged over the recent torture case in Chicago? Do these people even care who is arrested so long as someone is brought to justice?
These are the facts: A group of four blacks teens found a white teen in distress and took them into an apartment where they proceeded to harm, berate, and humiliate him all while filming for their social media followers to see. The perpetrators made hateful remarks towards white people and the president-elect. The victim is now in the hospital, and the four other teens are in police custody. This crime has nothing to do with Brittany Shalynn Davis.
We don’t know why the four teens did this. We don’t know if it was race-fueled or if the victim was in the wrong place at the wrong time. We don’t know if it was an explicitly anti-Trump demonstration or if that rhetoric came about during the crime. And we certainly don’t know that this has anything to do with Black Lives Matter.
We do know that this is a reproachable crime that remains frightening and sickening despite all the fake news coverage surrounding it.
While the Chicago PD continues to investigate the case, their Facebook page is becoming increasingly filled with angry comments condemning them for not already classifying it as a hate crime, as well as some people calling it “the most evil example of actual racism” they’ve seen. Decide for yourself by watching the graphic, disturbing videos here.
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