Police are still trying to figure out why a black mob beat to death a Des Moines, Iowa, man at a popular downtown fishing spot one week ago.
Richard Daughenbaugh, a father of six and construction worker, did not know his killers, say police. But at 1 a.m., he found himself exchanging words with members of a mob that numbered in the dozens.
The Des Moines Register picks up the narrative with a sterile account that understates the violence and ignores the race of the attackers:
“The suspects allegedly beat Daughenbaugh using no weapons other than their own bodies while others in the group tried to stop anyone from helping, police said,” the paper reported. “A woman fishing nearby tried to step in and stop the assault and was struck, police said. Her companion was attacked as he jumped in to defend her. And when the woman tried to call 911, two women from the group allegedly grabbed her phone and threw it. She eventually retrieved it and called 911.”
Translation: Several people beat Daughenbaugh. Several people beat the fishermen who tried to help. And several people beat the witnesses who tried to dial 911. And lots of others watched and cheered.
Richard Daughenbaugh died soon after.
Like Des Moines, local police officials and media around the country are loathe to talk about the race of the attackers—or victims.
People who work for the police department in Des Moines have learned to be careful about how they refer to racial violence. The last one to do it got fired. Her name was Lori Lavorato. She was the uniformed spokeswoman for the Des Moines police department during “Beat Whitey Night” at the Iowa State Fair in 2010. When reporters asked her if the attackers were black and victims were white, she told the truth and said they were.
Soon after, she was fired: Sent down to traffic division.
The Register reported: “Police commanders later said they found no credible evidence the fights were racially motivated.”
No evidence? Other than a police report—now posted at Smoking Gun—saying the people were shouting “Beat Whitey Night”? Other than the fact that all the attackers were black and all the victims were white? Other than the fact it happened several nights in a row? Other than the fact the attacks are on video?
There was “no evidence.” In other words, the attackers did not issue a press release or carry signs with racial slogans prior to the attack.
On Friday, police charged three black men with murder of Richard Daughenbaugh. They also issued warrants for several other people for theft and assault. There are no charges pending on those who watched and laughed shouted encouragement.
Outside of Iowa, others are surprised to hear about the episodes of black mob violence in a place they thought to be the epitome of the quiet rural life.
“If it is happening in Iowa,” said one guest on a WHO radio talk show in Des Moines, “what do you think is happening in the rest of the country?”