Columnist Questions LA Times Framing of Fort Bragg Murder

Jack Rikes, a contributor to the wonderfully named marijuana news website TokeoftheTown.com, has an intriguing op ed today about recent LA Times coverage of the murder of Fort Bragg, California councilman Jere Melo.

The sub-headline for the September 4 LA Times item by Sam Quinones suggests that the slaying is “the latest event in an area populated by marijuana growers drawn to the isolation, good weather and laissez-faire culture.” While the article does not directly tie Melo’s killing to the area’s illicit marijuana growing industry, Rikes thinks the context is still heavy-handed:

Jere Melo wasn’t a friend to the [marijuana] growing community. But that doesn’t have anything to do with his untimely death. Melo was killed by a crazed wacko that was lying and waiting for trouble by the slit trenches he dug and the sniper posts he erected. He was ready for someone to bring it on.

Rikes reports that the family of the suspected killer, transient Aaron Bassler, tried to get their son some help for his mental condition but were denied by county services. Fugitive Bassler is also to be charged for the August 11 Fort Bragg killing of land steward Matt Coleman.