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New York Times Says Michael Brown Was 'No Angel.' Twitter: No One Is. New York Times Says Michael Brown Was 'No Angel.' Twitter: No One Is.

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New York Times Says Michael Brown Was 'No Angel.' Twitter: No One Is.

Using #ideservedit, users tweeted the character flaws that might be used against them if they were killed by police.

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Lesley McSpadden touches her head during the funeral service for her son Michael Brown on Monday.(Robert Cohen-Pool/Getty Images)

After a story in The New York Times called Michael Brown "no angel" on Monday, citing drugs, alcohol, and alleged shoplifting among the young man's "problems," scores of Twitter users reacted with tweets speculating on how their own "problems" would be portrayed by the media if were they killed by police.

The tweets, which numbered upwards of 1,700 at press time, include the hash tag #ideservedit, suggesting that the Times article, in enumerating Brown's illegal activities (and his burgeoning interest in rapping), partially blamed him for his own shooting death.

 

The Times' public editor, Margaret Sullivan, called the word choice a "regrettable mistake" and a "blunder" in a post on the newspaper's website, and the original article's author, John Eligon, agreed that the phrase was poorly chosen. Alison Mitchell, the Times' national editor, defended the story. "If you read the full profile, it's a sensitive, nuanced account of this young man," she said. "There was certainly no hint that this poor young man should have been shot."

 

 

 

Here is the tweet that sparked the hashtag:

A funeral for Brown was held in St. Louis on Monday, drawing thousands of mourners. Brown, 18, was unarmed when he was killed by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo.

 

Rev. Al Sharpton Speaks At Michael Brown's Funeral
Rev. Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy at Michael Brown's funeral on Monday, calling on attendees to change the country so there won't be another Michael Brown. (NBC News)

The flood of #ideservedit tweets is reminiscent of the popularity of an earlier hash tag, #iftheygunnedmedown, which cropped up in the days after Brown was killed. Users tweeted the hash tag alongside two photos of themselves, each illustrating the user in a different light, asking which photo media would publish if they were killed by police.

The media has been implicated alongside police in the character assassination of Brown following his shooting death. Some publications have drawn flak for biased reporting, for their photo choices, or for an emphasis on an autopsy finding of marijuana in Brown's system. For their part, Ferguson police came under scrutiny after they released surveillance footage of a robbery Brown allegedly committed, only later clarifying that the incident was unrelated to Brown's shooting.

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In the vein of the #ideservedit tweets, Vox's Matt Yglesias recounted a story of an "encounter" he had with police as a teenager that was not so different from Brown's earlier this month. The same day he was caught shoplifting from K-Mart by a security guard, Yglesias and a friend were smoking cigarettes and drinking beers in a park when they were approached by an undercover cop. "But he didn't shoot us," Yglesias wrote. "He wrote us citations for drinking alcohol in a New York City park." Some #ideservedit tweets focus on this disparity between the experiences of "white kids from fancy prep schools," as Yglesias describes himself, and young black men like Brown and Trayvon Martin, who are the disproportionate victims of police homicide.

Here is a sampling of more #ideservedit tweets:

This story has been updated with a reaction from The New York Times.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the first name of The New York Times national editor. It is Alison.

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Excellent!"

Rick, Executive Director for Policy

Concise coverage of everything I wish I had hours to read about."

Chuck, Graduate Student

The day's action in one quick read."

Stacy, Director of Communications

I find them informative and appreciate the daily news updates and enjoy the humor as well."

Richard, VP of Government Affairs

Chock full of usable information on today's issues. "

Michael, Executive Director

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