Santa Monica, CA – A local newspaper wrote a satirical article about a real bank robbery that claimed police planned to charge the robber with cultural appropriation and Yahoo! Lifestyle reported it as fact.
The article was never meant to be taken seriously, according to the editors of the Santa Monica Observer.
“Like Barbie, the masked gunman who knocked over a Wells Fargo Bank needs cultural sensitivity training,” read the article’s lead.
The article went on to explain that the “unwoke bank robber” was wearing a Day of the Dead-type of mask when he robbed the bank, and that Santa Monica police were looking to charge the suspects with “bank robbery, assault, and cultural appropriation.”
The obvious spoof by the Santa Monica Observer went on to quote the Santa Monica Police Department explaining the charges.
“It is important to recognize the inherent dignity of indigenous cultures," said the Santa Monica Police Department in a press release. "Use of a Day of the Dead Mask during a robbery can be a separate offense or an enhancement, under the California Penal Code. In this case, the suspect is sought for violating the rights of indigenous peoples, and for bank robbery."
But if a reader didn’t “get” that the story was a farce, the example of the sentencing should have clued them in.
If sentenced, the unidentified, unwoke bank robber could be made to attend training classes in Cultural Sensitivity, Social Justice and "woke" culture, in addition to 20 years for bank robbery. Excluding the 20 years, he would be treated like any employee at Google, Apple or Twitter, in other words.
The article also said that Wells Fargo had doubled the reward being offered for the capture of the bank robbers because "Wells Fargo Bank does not tolerate racism, cultural appropriation or discrimination of any kind.”
Despite the snark and sarcasm, Yahoo! Lifestyle picked up the story and ran with it as fact, complete with an eye-catching headline.
“Bank robber wearing Day of the Dead mask may be charged with cultural appropriation,” trumpeted Yahoo! Lifestyle’s headline on Wednesday.
There are currently no laws in the state of California prohibiting "cultural appropriation."
A Santa Monica Police Department spokesperson told Blue Lives Matter that they were working with Yahoo! Lifestyle to have the article taken down or corrected to reflect the fact that the cultural appropriation chargers were satirical.
In the meantime, the Santa Monica Observer added a paragraph at the bottom of their article to clarify.
“Update 9/18/2019: This article, which was picked up by Yahoo news, is intended as satire. No one from the SMPD actually said the unidentified bank robber could be charged with cultural appropriation. We thought it was kind of obvious,” the update read.
Confusion caused by the Yahoo! Lifestyle article was serious enough that the Santa Monica police put out a statement on their official Facebook page to make sure people understood the police quotes in the Santa Monica Observer were supposed to be a joke by the newspaper.
“The Santa Monica Police Department takes all crimes seriously and while we understand the Observers attempt at humor, the quotes attributed to the Department are false,” the police department wrote. “The suspect in the Wells Fargo Robbery remains outstanding and we continue to work with federal officers and our local partners in identifying the offender.”
Yahoo! Lifestyle took down their ridiculous story midday on Wednesday and replaced it with an explanatory paragraph and apology.
“The article that was previously posted here did not meet our editorial standards,” the publication wrote. “Upon further review, Yahoo Lifestyle learned that details included in the story came from a satirical post that was published by a local news outlet. We regret the error and are reviewing our editorial processes.”