The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned the murder of freelance music journalist Zachary Stoner, who was shot dead in the early hours of May 30 in Chicago, Illinois.

Mr. Stoner posted videos to his YouTube channel zacktv1, which focused on community life and hip hop artists in his hometown of Chicago.

Mr Stoner was driving his jeep down Clark Street in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood when unknown assailants in a second vehicle approached him and opened fire around 1:30 a.m. on May 30. new reports declared..

He was last seen alive half an hour earlier, when reports, citing friends, reported that he was leaving a rap concert at Refuge nightclub, three blocks away.

“Authorities should thoroughly investigate Zachary Stoner’s murder, especially if his work as a journalist was the reason for his death,” said Alexandra Ellerbeck, CPJ’s North America program coordinator.

Mr Stoner, 30, was shot in the neck and head, causing him to roll onto a sidewalk and hit a light pole. A video taken immediately after the shooting by neighbor Aaron Dunlap shows at least three people running towards a third vehicle; you can hear shouting: “Let’s go!”

Mr Stoner was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition but was pronounced dead at 4:20 a.m. on May 30, according to newspaper from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Calling himself “the best interviewer in the world” in his Twitter profile, Mr. Stoner has passed ZackTV and was a vlogger – or video blogger – known for his coverage of hip hop and the realities of life in his community, especially that of young black men.

The Chicago Defender cited Stoner said, “A lot of people respect what I do. I am the “Hood CNN”.

The videographer interviewed notable rappers, including Chief Keef and G Count, and posted more than 1,700 videos on his channel, which numbered over 176,000 people. Some of his videos were controversial – a few mention conspiracy theories, and others feature young men throwing gang signs and threatening their rivals.

Mr. Stoner was also known as a peacemaker, reported the Sun Times, because of its reputation for interviewing leaders of opposing gangs and organizations and seeking opportunities to help them resolve their differences.

Lamarr Stoner, a cousin of Zack Stoner, who lives in Chicago, told CPJ: “[Stoner] went to different neighborhoods, talked to rappers in places the media couldn’t go, filmed and recorded, and made sure the word got out on the streets and around the world about what was going on.

In April 2018, journalist Charles Preston wrote in the Chicago Defender, “Stoner documents what others overlook,” giving “the city’s most controversial artists their first interviews and on-camera covers.[ing] neighborhoods where journalists run their newspaper trucks.

A friend of Mr Stoner, Phor Robinson, was quoted by WGN Television saying, “I hear stories like they maybe mad at him because he interviewed some rappers. But it’s not his fault that he’s doing his job.

Morgan Elise Johnson, co-founder and creative director of Chicago-based publication The Triibe, met with Mr Stoner and his business partner, Tony Woods, a month before Mr Stoner’s death to discuss a potential partnership.

Ms Johnson told CPJ: “Her voice was so powerful in the neighborhood, and I don’t know if that power had anything to do with her death.

Mr Stoner had also received threats related to his coverage of the death of teenage girl Kenneka Jenkins in September 2017. While her death was ultimately r judged an accident, it sparked a social media frenzy and many conspiracy theories.

In October 2017, an anonymous woman called Mr. Stoner, warning her to “leave the matter alone … leave it alone for your safety.”

In a videoMr Stoner said he would not publish interviews related to the case because his home was broken into, his camera equipment stolen and he was receiving threatening phone calls and emails. Almost two months later, however, he released the videos.

Chicago Police Department detectives are still investigating Mr. Stoner’s murder, a spokesperson told CPJ, and are reviewing possible video footage of the incident. Department spokesperson Officer Norma Pelayo told CPJ that no suspects were in custody.

Murders of journalists in the United States are relatively rare. At least Seven journalists have been killed in the country directly related to their work since CPJ began documenting cases in 1992.

CPJ reported in 1994 on several unsolved murders of immigrant American journalists in the 1980s and 1990s.

THE SOURCE: Committee to Protect Journalists

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