White Supremacists Target Columnist Leonard Pitts

By: E&P Staff A white-supremacist Web site angered by a Leonard Pitts Jr. column alluding to the murder of a white couple posted The Miami Herald writer's home address and phone number -- leading to threats against the 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner.

When Herald Managing Editor/News Dave Wilson asked Overthrow.com to delete the address and phone number, site editor Bill White replied: "We have no intention of removing Mr. Pitts' personal information. Frankly, if some loony took the info and killed him, I wouldn't shed a tear. That also goes for your whole newsroom."

Elsewhere on the Roanoke, Va.-based site, the N-word was used to refer to Pitts, who's African-American. He won a Pulitzer for commentary in 2004. His column is syndicated by Tribune Media Services.

White's reply to Wilson was posted on Overthrow.com, as was Wilson's e-mail message to White -- leading the Herald editor to also get some nasty responses from white supremacists. But Pitts has received most of the messages.

When reached today by E&P, Wilson said some of the messages were "thoughtful" but others were "very unsettling" in nature. "We did refer some of them to our legal representatives," added the Herald editor. "Our first concern is for Leonard, and we have been in close contact with him."

Wilson declined to say whether or not Pitts, who writes his Herald column out of Maryland, is under any kind of police protection. The columnist could not be reached for comment today by E&P.

This conflict was first reported by Rob Redding at the site Redding News Review, based in Washington, D.C., and he continues to follow it.

Pitts, in the early June column that set off Overthrow.com, wrote about the brutal January murder of a white couple in Tennessee. A group of African Americans were charged with the crime. "(I)f the defendants in this case did what they are accused of doing, I'd be happy to see them rot under the jailhouse," wrote Pitts.

But Pitts also noted that the supremacists and conservative bloggers who pushed the murder case into the national spotlight were examples of white people who "put on the victim hat" and allege that black crime against whites is underreported.

"Black crime against whites is underreported? On what planet? Study after study and expert after expert tell a completely different story," wrote Pitts, who's syndicated by Tribune Media Services .

Pitts concluded: "I have four words for ... any other white Americans who feel themselves similarly victimized. Cry me a river."

Wilson said Pitts has the Herald's full support. "He's a nationally known writer who's not afraid to express his opinion and challenge perceptions. We have every expectation that his column will continue to do that for a long time."


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