Color Bind: The Search for a Blond Goatee and a Man Wearing Clothes

The metropolitan daily papers in South Florida continue to awkwardly avoid mentioning race when describing criminal suspects on the loose, seemingly without consideration for whether doing so might actually aid in apprehending some of them.

I wrote about a few examples of this two weeks ago, but the practice continues.

In a Sun-Sentinel story from last week about a 7-Eleven robbery, the paper describes the possibly armed suspect as: having a blond goatee and appeared to be between 19 and 22. The BSO sketch (seen here) is in black and white (save the jokes), but the suspect looks white -- to me, but since I wasn't a witness to the crime, that won't help you catch the guy.

Another story from last week's Sun-Sentinel, about two men who ordered food at a Burger King, then robbed the restaurant, going so far as asking for the money they had just handed over, has this description of the suspects:


They were seen sitting in a two-door, black or navy blue, older-model sport utility vehicle before the incident, authorities said.

The man with the gun was about 5 feet 7, 180 pounds and bald with an unshaven face. He wore a white shirt and black pants.

His accomplice was described as 5-9 and 200 pounds, and wore sunglasses, a hat, a black shirt and blue jeans.

Got that? Bald, with stubble. Oh, and a white shirt.

Worse, however, is the weird situation going on with a SS story reprinted in the Miami Herald. The story is about two Pembroke Pines snorkelers nearly killed by a boat. The Herald story contains this description:

The captain is described as a heavy-set man, who had short hair in the back of his head and was bald in the front. He wasn't wearing a shirt.

The current web version of the story on the SS site is missing that description, which also ran in the print edition. Perhaps too many shirtless, short-haired men on boats were being detained, and the Sun-Sentinel felt mercy.

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Michael J. Mooney