A 16-year-old teen has been arrested and charged in the brutal mob attack on two white reporters in Virginia that largely went unreported for two weeks.
According to the Virginia Pilot, the boy has been charged with "throwing a missile at a vehicle, a felony, as well as two counts of simple assault by mob, destruction of property and participation in a riot, all misdemeanors."
The victims, Dave Forster and Marjon Rostami, are reporters for the Pilot. They were stopped at a red light when a rock was thrown at their car. Forster got out to confront the original assailant, and that led to the attack.
But the story gained national attention not just for the attack, but because the pair's employer refused to report on the story. That led to severe backlash and forced the paper's editor, Denis Finley, to explain the paper's decision in a front-page column published Thursday.
"We did not report the attack as a news story, and some have accused us of burying the incident for political reasons," Finley explained.
"Race has entered the equation. The attackers are black; Forster and Rostami are white. A Twitter post mentioned Trayvon Martin, fueling the opinion that we are practicing reverse racism, that if a group of white people had attacked a black couple, the incident would have been front-page news.
"None of this is true."
He went on to explain the newspaper did not report the incident because Forster and Rostami did not want their names in the news and the incident was deemed a "simple assault."
"If these were the circumstances with anyone in the community, we would not have done a story," Finley wrote.
Instead, the paper first published an opinion piece on Tuesday with the help of the victims, which allowed them to "editorialize" and accuse the police of a "shoddy" work in responding to the 911 call.
"We did not cover up anything. What would we gain by protecting some thugs who beat up two of our reporters? The accusation is ludicrous," Finley said.
"Based on the facts, this story did not cross the bar to be published because as a general rule, The Pilot doesn't publish stories about simple assaults," he added.
As for the arrest, police are still looking for other attackers. But Police Chief Sharon Chamberlin stressed that despite the teen being charged with a "mob" attack, the actual number of attackers is likely far less than what some might think. Originally, Forster and Rostami noted that there were about 100 in the crowd and 30 people near the car at the time of the assault.
"It is important to clarify that 30 people did not carry out the assault," the chief said. "There was a large group in the vicinity, but our investigation and the statements of the victims show that no more than a handful of people were involved."
She also once again confirmed the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime.