Claim: There was a giant mass shooting at Bunny Friend Playground in New Orleans on 22 November 2015, but the media ignored the incident because the suspect was black.
WHAT’S TRUE: On 22 November 2015, 17 people were shot and injured at Bunny Friend Playground in New Orleans.
WHAT’S FALSE/UNDETERMINED: The event was a “mass shooting” by commonly defined terms, the media didn’t report it.
Example:[Collected via e-mail and Twitter, December 2015]
Bunny Friend Park mass shooting November 2015 act of domestic terrorism. I can not find any information in regards to this article by Posted on November 30, 2015 by Sean Brown in Mad News World.
17 shot in Louisiana mass shooting, COMPLETE media blackout. Why? Convicted felon black suspect named Mohammed. https://t.co/Il9eHVYVf1
— Alex Wilson ن (@Zone6Combat) December 2, 2015
17 people shot. Suspect arrested. Scumbag US Media totally buries the story because the suspect isn’t a white male. https://t.co/mrdBwXfIAV
— Mr T 2 (@GovtsTheProblem) December 2, 2015
Origins: On 30 November 2015 the web site Mad World News published an article titled “There Was A Giant Mass Shooting NOBODY’S Talking About, Care To Guess Why?,” claiming a 22 November 2015 “giant mass shooting” at Bunny Friend Playground in New Orleans was “ignor[ed]” by the media:
For the past week, the media has obsessed over the shooting in Colorado Springs near a Planned Parenthood, and while our attention was drawn to that, another mass shooting occurred. The victim count was huge, but nobody seems to be talking about it, and it’s not hard to see why.
You see, [suspect Joseph] Allen is a black thug with a criminal record a mile long, so his violent acts don’t fit into the current narrative that white conservative Christians are the largest threat to our nation. Plus, being a convicted felon, he shouldn’t have even had a gun to begin with. The law forbidding him from owning one didn’t work, and he was also a part of the catch and release program for violent thugs.
The article correctly described some factual elements of the incident, but distorted a number of details. On 22 November 2015, what was described by credible news sources as a “gunfight” erupted during a large event at Bunny Friend Playground in New Orleans. The day of the shooting the New Orleans Advocate reported a “hail of gunfire” between “two unidentified groups” erupted at the public park, adding that “multiple gunmen [were] shooting at each other.”
Information about the 22 November 2015 shooting at Bunny Friend Playground was in fact easy to come by, as the incident was reported on extensively by both local and national news outlets. Initial reporting alone (not counting follow up reports on arrests) generated hundreds of articles in Google News; among sites which covered the shooting were USA Today, People, FoxNews.com, NBCNews.com, Daily Mail, the New York Times, New York Daily News, KSLA, WWL-TV, the Times-Picayune, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Not only was it clear the media hadn’t colluded to “bury” the story, but most coverage included a mug shot of Allen (clearly not downplaying the fact the suspect was black.)
Another misrepresentation in Mad World News‘ article involved the “giant mass shooting” it described. While 17 people were wounded (no one was killed) in the Bunny Friend Playground incident, “mass shooting” is a term generally used in an entirely different manner:
There is no broadly agreed-to, specific conceptualization of this issue, so this report uses its own definition for public mass shootings. These are incidents occurring in relatively public places, involving four or more deaths—not including the shooter(s)—and gunmen who select victims somewhat indiscriminately. The violence in these cases is not a means to an end—the gunmen do not pursue criminal profit or kill in the name of terrorist ideologies, for example.
By all accounts, the Bunny Friend Playground incident didn’t match any of the criteria for a “mass shooting.” Law enforcement, the media, and officials described a large and dangerous outbreak of street violence, involving several armed individuals firing indiscriminately at one another.
Along with Mad World News, several social media users contrasted the shooting in New Orleans with a subsequent mass shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood. However, that incident involved a sole gunman, lacked an altercation, and the clinic appeared to specifically be the suspected shooter’s target (three people were killed, so the incident might not technically be classed as a “mass shooting.”)
It’s true that on 22 November 2015, 17 people were wounded during an altercation at Bunny Friend Playground. It’s similarly true that the subsequent 27 November 2015 shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood received more media coverage. However, the initial New Orleans incident was widely covered locally, nationally, and internationally; the better part of a week passed before the Planned Parenthood shooting became then-current news.
The Bunny Friend Playground incident was further not in any way classifiable as a “mass shooting,” whereas the Planned Parenthood shooting did fall under many of the accepted descriptors. No one died in the first shooting, whereas three people were killed at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood. Finally, it was absurd to suggest a “media blackout” suppressed the story, as outlets in the U.S. and United Kingdom reported it.
Last updated: 3 December 2015
Originally published: 3 December 2015