Last week, the Los Angeles Times published a feature piece on UC-Berkeley student Ismael Chamu, that highlighted the struggles he and his family face on a daily basis. The only problem? The article never mentioned that Chamu is a radical, violent, left-wing extremist – with ties to Antifa.
Chamu was charged with felony vandalism in 2017, after allegedly spray-painting graffiti around his campus. These graffiti messages included, “F--- White People,” “F--- the police,” “Kill Cops,” “Eat the Rich,” and more.
According to Berkeleyside, dozens of tires were slashed as well, and when police approached Chamu he was hiding a knife. After being arrested, Chamu claimed on Facebook that his arrest was due to racial profiling, despite police claiming that the spray paint used matched the paint found on his hands.
Chamu has also written blog posts (that have now since been deleted), where he made his radical views clear. “Private property must be destroyed,” he wrote. “Google offices must be burned and Google buses need to be slashed.”
Just recently, Chamu was evicted from the trailer he had been living in. His landlord claimed that he had allowed Chamu and his family to live in the trailer as a temporary favor, but said it had been over three months and the family never paid him. Chamu denies the claims that he never paid his rent.
“Trying to do something good, to help someone became a nightmare for us,” the landlord told ABC 7 News.
When the LA Times article was first published, it never acknowledged the controversies surrounding Chamu’s character. Only after pushback from readers did the Los Angeles Times correct the record and add in an update: “This article has been updated to include details of Ismael’s arrest last year on vandalism charges. He has pleaded not guilty and has not been convicted.”
While the update attempted to point out Chamu’s extreme character flaws, it still failed to highlight the extent to which he has been involved in violent and criminal activities.
The piece primarily focused on the difficult life of Chamu and his siblings. There is no doubt that living in a trailer without proper heating and plumbing is a terrible experience, but when writing a feature piece on a person, their whole story should be included.
As much as I would like to blame this puff piece on the laziness of the journalist, Teresa Watanbe, who has worked at the LA Times since 1989, the original exclusion of the violent side of Chamu was anything but accidental. A simple Google search for “Ismael Chamu” brings up several links about his arrest and vandalism.
Instead, Chamu, a student associated with the extremist group Antifa, is being praised and benefiting from the kind hearts of over 1,200 people, who as of Friday night, have donated a total of $87,000 to a fundraiser created after the publication of the LA Times article. Ironically, a man who wrote on his blog that “private property must be destroyed” has now raised enough money in private donations to take care of his family and find a new place to live.
My heart breaks for the struggles that Chamu endures, but victimhood does not erase sin. We are still a nation of laws and justice, but we are also a nation of forgiveness and charity. For this reason, I commend the people who are donating to this family who is clearly in need of help. At the same time, I condemn a leftist media that fails to do their due diligence, and tries to connect the audience with Chamu on an emotional level – without telling the whole story.
As for Chamu, it is clear his lifelong struggle with poverty have caused him to adopt a negative perception of this country that possibly turned him to violence and hatred. I can only hope that the support he has received for his family has changed his opinion about our great nation and influences him to abandon his hatred for his fellow Americans.