White Robber Fools Cops With Black Disguise

Some headlines miss the racial stereotype in the story of a white man robbing a bank in Ohio. Plus: Eugene Robinson named to the Pulitzer Board.

We all know that black men have been so identified with crime in the public mind that white perpetrators have successfully cried “the black man did it” and sent authorities looking for African American suspects.

But a case from Cincinnati has them topped.

A white man who pleaded guilty to six robberies in Ohio used a black mask so lifelike that police initially arrested a black man for one of the crimes, authorities said Tuesday,” Lisa Cornwell reported for the Associated Press.

“The mother of the wrongly accused man even thought a photo of the robbery suspect she saw on television was a photo of her son, the Hamilton County prosecutor’s office and the attorney for the white defendant said.

“Conrad Zdzierak, 30, pleaded guilty Monday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court to one count of aggravated robbery and five counts of robbery in a plea deal with prosecutors. He faces up to 35 years in prison at his Jan. 7 sentencing.”

Despite the historical and stereotypical baggage Zdzierak’s racial impersonation conjures, some headline writers managed to leave that out of their handiwork.

The online edition of Britain’s Daily Mail got it. “The white robber who carried out six raids disguised as a black man (and very nearly got away with it),” it headlined.

In the Cincinnati Enquirer, it was “White man who wore black mask admits to string of bank robberies.”

But an Associated Press headline, picked up on the largest number of news websites, was deracinated: “Police fooled by lifelike mask in Ohio robberies.”