Miami columnist target of threats

JUNE 2007
Posted June 21, 2007

Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald

Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. wrote a commentary on June 3 challenging the notion that the media is biased against whites when it comes to covering violent crime. Pitts was referring to a car-jacking, kidnapping and sexual assault of a white couple in January in Knoxville, Tenn., for which five African-American suspects have been charged.

Days later, the Web site Overthrow, posted the Pitts’ home address and telephone number along with name of his wife, encouraging readers to call the columnist. Overthrow features swastikas and photos of the Nazi SS leader Heinrich Himmler. Several other white supremacist Internet sites later posted the columnist’s personal information, the Herald reported.

Pitts has received dozens of hostile phone calls at his home and about 400 e-mails, the Herald quoted its managing editor, Dave Wilson, saying in a story on June 21. Wilson said the calls and e-mails to Pitts included death threats, the Herald reported.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has assigned agents to the matter. “We are investigating the e-mails and phone calls that were sent to Leonard Pitts,” Judy Orihuela, spokeswoman for the FBI’s Miami Field Office, told CPJ.