Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"He Said; She Said" Statement Analysis Test: Robert McKnight versus Amanda Vining

We have the perfect storm of race, gender, and politics coming together, with skillful writing granting opportunity to highlight just how accurate Statement Analysis is.

A male reported that he was racially profiled, harassed by police, and praised by a politician.
A female reported that she was racially profiled, harassed by the male, and condemned through a thinly veiled pseudo name.

One is black; one is white.

Both assert to be racial activists decrying racism.

We have both of their accounts of the fateful night, without commentary.

I.  The written statement of
II.  The written statement of
III.  The Results of Statement Analysis

Who is telling the truth?

One alleges to be a victim of racial profiling, while the other claims to be a victim of a deceptive writing and in doing so, is a victim, herself, of his racial profiling.

In the comment section, put the name of the truth teller first, unless you need to state "neither" ("both" is not an option given the statements), and the main basis points for your conclusion.  Please cite the appropriate principle for your conclusion.

Please avoid "intuition", "feeling", "gut reaction", "straight face test", etc.  Statement Analysis principles only.

Please be aware of racism in the sense that such racial claims seek to cause an "Us versus Them" backlash and artificial unity.  Statement Analysis only seeks truth.

Given the nature of the claims, we seek to learn if the language chosen by both reveal strong commitment to the assertion.

I will not highlight or add emphasis to either in this post.

The postings are in chronological order.

I will post my analysis after commentators weigh in.

I.  The written statement of Robert McKnight

Robert McKnight, guest columnist: An effort to help a colleague move in Austin led to a visit from police

My suitcase was packed, and I was prepared to embark upon a life-changing journey from New Orleans to intern at the 84th Texas legislative session in Austin, working for state Sen. Rodney Ellis. The unique internship would not only allow me to receive a stipend but also a full semester of law school credit. However, I was ill-equipped for an experience in my first week in Austin that changed my life: I was racially profiled.
I am an African-American male. That alone is a loaded and difficult calling, an irreversible one. It’s loaded because of the daily heavy lifting required of me so as not to be seen as “intimidating.” This heavy lifting requires me to be aware that my black skin in the eyes of some correlates with a perceived aggression. The load can often times be overbearing because I know I have to fly to opportunities persons from other communities can walk to professionally. It is difficult because, when interacting, I am forced not only to think for myself but also about what the other individual will perceive from my acts or failure to act.

But I fell short of my goal of not being over-generalized, stereotyped and boxed into a corner of racism. Unfortunately, it only took a seven-hour drive for my greatest fear to manifest itself: No matter how hard I worked or what I wear, my black skin can label me as menacing.
A few weeks ago, I parked my car in Austin’s University Village Apartments. I was designated to help a South African Legislative Fellow that evening move into an apartment she shared. To mitigate any mishaps, I thought it would be fitting to go upstairs to the third floor and first introduce myself. When I arrived, I knocked on the door and a blue-eyed, blonde woman appeared.
“How can I help you?” she asked nervously. I replied, “I’m helping someone move in,” and showed her the key to the apartment. I also showed her the leasing agreement and room assignment. I moved the luggage quickly into the room and the intern settled into her apartment safely.
I headed downstairs to my car, but a police officer met me in the stairwell.
“Where are you coming from?” he asked.
“A room, sir,” I sheepishly replied.
“Take a seat,” he uttered as two other cops ascended the stairwell.
Soon it was four cops and only me.
“Why?” I answered. But before I could overreact, the “talk” my mother gave me years ago returned to me at that moment: “Son, don’t make any sudden moves; allow them to see yours hands; and always answer ‘yes’ or ‘no, sir.’ ”
After giving the police my personal information and ID, I was finally released and told this was a “mistake.” The mistake was that the cops were called on me for no other reason than my being a black male, knocking on a door at 8:30 at night, trying to help a colleague move her bags up three flights of stairs. This “mistake” could potentially have been fatal if I had on a hoodie, earrings, tattoos or had spoken or conducted myself a certain way while detained.
I had naively thought I was impervious to any act of racial profiling, such as being accosted by four police officers and having my liberty deprived momentarily for being a black male, knocking on a door in the evening. However, I was wrong. Because of this singular experience, I empathize and stand in solidarity with the countless individuals who have been profiled because of their race, sexual orientation or religion.
Believe it or not, I thank the Caucasian woman who was the impetus for this life-changing event. I thank you because you opened my eyes to an experience I will never forget. I have a newly ignited fire now, to fight for criminal justice reform, to fight for social equality and to fight for a fair, transparent and reliable judicial system. For that, my friend, I thank you.
Robert McKnight, a law student from Louisiana, is a legislative fellow with state Sen. Rodney Ellis.

II.  The written statement of Amanda Vining

Amanda Vining, guest columnist: Hostility, rudeness and perhaps even a case of racial profiling in Austin

Recently, Robert McKnight, a legislative fellow for state Sen. Rodney Ellis, wrote a column published in several newspapers in which he very soberly suggested that, as an African-American male, he was unwittingly subjected to racial profiling while attempting to help a South African legislative fellow move into Austin’s University Village Apartments. In the piece, he portrayed himself as an innocent.
The column makes excellent points about racial profiling. It also demonstrates how two people can see one encounter very differently.

I am the blond-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian woman who answered the door of our apartment to Mc-Knight the evening of Jan. 13. From my perspective, the situation played out as such:
I had returned home from work about 7:30, changed into my pajamas and was preparing a quick dinner in the kitchen so I could go to bed early. About 20 minutes after I returned home, there was a very forceful knock on the door.
I opened the door to a man in a trench coat — McKnight — who promptly demanded, “Who lives here?!’ ” He was holding a set of keys to our apartment but no lease or room assignment sheet, despite what he stated in his column.
Before I could answer, he said, just as forcefully, “Does anyone live in Bedroom C?”
My other two female roommates and I had not been informed that anyone was moving into our empty bedroom, so I told him no.
McKnight said: “Good! I’m moving my intern in.” He spun around and started walking away.
I asked him who the intern was and who he was, but he responded with: “Is everything OK here? Is there a problem?”
I told him that everything was OK but that I was shaken by the forceful way he knocked on our door and that I didn’t know who either he or his intern were. The last thing McKnight said to me before walking down the stairs was, “Everything better be fine because she’ll be here for six months!”
I was pretty scared by this abrupt encounter. I went into my bedroom, locked the door and texted my other two roommates that there was a man at the apartment who had keys and said he was moving someone in, but that I didn’t know who he was or who he was moving in. I never mentioned his race. One of my roommates told me to call the police, but I didn’t.
A few minutes later, she texted me to let me know she had called the police. Given the racial context of all this, I suppose I should note that she is African-American. She did not know the man at our apartment was African-American at the time of her call to police.
McKnight returned to the apartment and began screaming about everything in the unit. Apparently, the toilet in his intern’s bathroom was running and I heard him yelling: “Who the f--- rents an apartment like this? Don’t they know who I am? He (meaning the leasing manager) is going to have to respond to me! This is unacceptable! Don’t they know who I am and who I work for? I’m a lawyer, not a plumber!”
Police arrived a few minutes later and asked McKnight to wait at the bottom of the stairs until they figured out what was going on. A police officer came and pulled me from my room. I went outside with him to tell him that I didn’t know what was going on or who was in my apartment. He told me that I had a new roommate, then made a joke about how this probably wasn’t the best way to meet the new roommate. I agreed.
I thanked the police officer and told him that if McKnight was supposed to be there, then that was OK. I didn’t know who he was and hadn’t seen any new roommate with him, so it was terrifying to see a strange man come to my apartment after dark with a set of keys to get in.
When the police let McKnight go back upstairs, he re-entered the apartment obviously very angry and started yelling: “Who the f--- does that? Who the f--- calls the police? Don’t they know who I am?” The police officer heard McKnight yelling so loudly from the parking lot that he came back into the apartment building, knocked on my bedroom door and asked if I would like for him to escort me to my car so that I could go somewhere else for the night.
When the police officer walked me to my car, another police officer approached me and said that he was glad the police were called because McKnight was inappropriately belligerent. He said that he and the other police officer (I saw two officers, not the four Mc-Knight described) told McKnight that he wasn’t in trouble, that they weren’t detaining him, that all they asked of him was to stay out of the apartment, which was not leased to him, until they figured out what the situation was.
I went to my best friend’s house for the evening (who, as long as we’re name-dropping, is senior staff at the state Capitol for another lawmaker). On my way to her house from my apartment, I ended up being a witness to a fatal car-motorcycle accident. I was the one who called 911, so I had to stay on the scene. I met the very police officers who had been at my apartment 30 minutes earlier.
McKnight says at the end of his column, “For that, my friend, I thank you.” Had McKnight not forced me away from my apartment that evening, I would have just gone to bed and not come across this accident and not been there to call emergency responders to help the victim. For that, my friend, I thank you.
Since that night, my roommates and I have agreed McKnight is more than welcome to come over as long as he is respectful, calm, polite and makes us feel safe in our own home. Race was never an issue in this situation. The police were not called because of Robert’s race; they were called because an unidentified man approached our all-female apartment after dark with a set of keys to our apartment in hand, with no one else present, and addressed us with belligerence and aggression.
Questions remain: Why didn’t Robert approach the apartment with the new roommate? Where was the roommate? Why didn’t the roommate come up to meet us first? Why didn’t Robert introduce himself first? I didn’t learn his name till much later.
Was I the unwitting victim of racial profiling that evening, easy prey to pointed assumptions and hostility? McKnight assumed that, because I am Caucasian and have blond hair and blue eyes, I automatically called police, but that wasn’t what happened.
Incidentally, McKnight came back to our apartment a few weeks later at 9:30 p.m. looking for the new roommate (with whom he works at the Capitol) and was equally belligerent with one of my other roommates who opened the door. His rude and inappropriate behavior has been a pattern, not just an isolated incident.
One of my roommates and I have lived together for three years. We once had an African-American man as a roommate. Our apartment does not exclude people based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or disability. All we ask is that anyone who comes to our home is respectful, polite and makes us feel secure.
Amanda Vining is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. She has worked at The White House, the Texas Legislative Council and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

III.  Statement Analysis:  To be added 


Rachael said...


Robert devotes a whole FOUR sentences to the actual encounter. One of which includes an unintroduced intern settling in safely (why wouldn't she settle in safely? And WHEN did that happen?). He brushes over the incident in question far too quickly.

Why is a man who has not yet experienced racial profiling taking steps to 'mitigate any mishaps' prior to even knocking on the door?

His attempts to convince us of naivety is out of balance with the detail of the actual precipitating event.

Whereas Amanda gets right to the meat of the matter. The bulk of her statement is directly related to her perception of the incident. She tries to convince the reader of nothing personal about herself, her character, her shortcomings as a person.

I wonder if Robert, moving from New Orleans to Texas, was fearful of a different racial environment, if he envisioned worst case scenarios in his mind over that 7 hour drive.

I think he is naive, just not in the way he wants us to think.

Rachael said...

I think he is anticipating a response from Amanda regarding his aggressiveness with this statement:

It’s loaded because of the daily heavy lifting required of me so as not to be seen as “intimidating.” This heavy lifting requires me to be aware that my black skin in the eyes of some correlates with a perceived aggression.

He is trying to defuse what he expects she will say.

I wonder how aggressive he is without all of that 'heavy lifting'?

GetThem said...

Niether. While Amanda gives what I consider to be a mostly reliable version of events, she does not give a reliable denial which should consist of her stating: I did not racially profile "McKnight" as she lovingly refers to him.

Robert's statements are also misleading because it takes him 2 paragraphs before he addresses how he was "racially profiled." Too much extra info, we don't need to hear about his packed suitcase or where he parked his car, or even the fact that he parked his car. All unnecessary info. Being African-American is sensitive to him and his first paragraph starts the first of many times he references being African American and how his mother taught him at a young age how to deal with police because of it.

It's interesting Roberts views the police as "accosting" him, but he views his approach to Amanda as polite and informative. Amanda's version of events shows Robert accosting her.

Anonymous said...

What's next, sex profiling? That's what really occured, strange males shows up unannounced to an all female appartment at an unusual time gaining access to it....

She is super sensitive to his race, and i believe she "racial profiled" him. I think she told her roommate there was a black man there who was acting in the sterotypical way, so they freaked.

Tania Cadogan said...

he spends 14 lines setting the scene, 4 lines on the actual event and 16 on the post event.
He is violating the principal of reliability based on form.

She does 8 lines pre event,
36 lines on the actual event and 20 post event.

I notice in his version no mention is made of the intern being with him, being properly introduced or anything. I found myself asking where the heck did the intern come from ?

His version smacked of story telling.
Why did he foresee mishaps?
Much is made of his gender and skin color and his build as he uses words such intimidating, menacing, heavy lifting.
it is also interesting he describes the other woman as blonde and blue eyed, making race sensitive.

With her statement , she goes into detail as to what happened and what was said.
She notes she didn't see the intern with him.

I would like to have had a statement from the intern who was supposedly with him

LisaB said...

Amanda is more likely to be telling the truth for all the reasons stated above.
I suspect each of them remembers the dialogue differently because neither anticipated being quizzed on what was said later.
I don't know if the intern was with him. I don't think he mentions her except to say she was "settled in" before he left the apartment. He never really introduced her to US, much less the existing tenant. “I’m helping someone move in,” was all he said, while waggling the keys in her face. NOWHERE in his statement does he indicate that he was polite enough to have introduced himself to the young woman who came to the door when he knocked, or that he mentioned the name, race or gender of the intern to her.
He never seems to consider the possibility that it was his gender, the fact that he was a stranger with keys to the apartment, and that all of this occurred after dark, a time few people would choose to move into a new place (the tenants of which had apparently not been advised that a new room-mate was coming at all), as factors resulting in someone contacting the police.
I believe Amanda MAY have considered his race IN ADDITION TO his gender and demeanor when he showed up. If I am mistaken and he had legitimate cause to believe he was being "racially profiled", his "belligerent attitude" on a subsequent visit to the apartment may have been justifiable. If not, it seems he has shown a pattern of this sort of behavior, and may even have been baiting the girls into feeling threatened on his initial visit.
He seems to be trying too hard to convince us that he was "sheepish" in dealing with police, was reminded of "the 'talk'" his mother gave him while dealing with them, and that he had anticipated a problem (based on his statement that he felt a need "to mitigate any mishaps") in spite of his claim that he had never encountered racism before this occasion.

Anonymous said...

He sounds narcissistic for sure.


Rachael said...

'I sheepishly replied' sticks out like a sore thumb, and reeks of storytelling.

Unknown said...

I find Amanda's account to be more reliable, both in form, and in content.

Amanda's account contains far more details about the actual encounter, than McKnight's does. She provides extensive quotes, stays in chronological order with strong pronoun commitment, and her verb tenses are appropriate throughout. Her account on the whole seems to report what happened, and address his allegations. She provides a few extraneous details such as having changed into her pajamas, and being ready for bed, etc., which provide context of the situation in question.

McKnight's account is heavily editorial, and he relies heavily on past experiences to justify his perception of the encounter. (His long struggle, or "heavy lifting" to prevent being profiled, or perceived as aggressive due to the color of his skin, as well as the "talk" his mother gave him about interacting with police officers, etc.)

He very briefly reports their encounter, despite identifying her as "the impetus for a life changing event." He shows sensitivity about knocking on the door, as he repeats lines about being "a black man knocking on a door" twice. This seems to line up with her assertion that the loud knocking was the crux of the issue between them.

While short, his account also goes out of chronological order in a strange way. When he describes his encounter with the officers, he actually breaks chronological order to report the eventual addition of more officers, between his quoting of a direct question, and his answer to it. It reads strangely, and seems to be an attempt to garner sympathy, rather than report the details of the encounter. This stood out to me in contrast to Amanda's account

Finally McKnight's ends by stating:

"I have a newly ignited fire now, to fight for criminal justice reform, to fight for social equality and to fight for a fair, transparent and reliable judicial system."

He identifies Amanda as the "impetus" for this event, but his named goals going foward are focused on the judicial system. According to him, SHE was the problem, not the judicial system. How do his named goals of reforming the judicial system (repeated twice) serve to prevent the supposedly racially based perception of him as a threat by a civilian white woman?

Rachael2 said...

I find embellishments for both writers.

A part that intrigues me from Robert.. "The mistake was that the cops were called on me for no other reason than my being a black male, knocking on a door at 8:30 at night, trying to help a colleague move her bags up three flights of stairs. "

He states the cops were called "on him". that phrase seems to assert ownership of some sort of behavior.

As for the woman, she uses a lot of extra wording to convince us of his behavior.

very forceful knock on the door he said, just as forcefully, I was pretty scared by this abrupt encounter, etc.

trustmeigetit said...

Back ONNTHE Natalie Holloway case and the new "witness"

Recently the Prosecutor's Office received the requested information from the management of the Marriott based in Orlando.

"From this information, it becomes indisputably clear that on the 30th of May 2005, no construction or building activities were started at the location that Mr. De Jong has specifically pointed out as the spot where Natalee Holloway would have been hidden and/or buried,''

according to Angela's press release.

"More concretely: the foundation of the Spyglass Tower (that still had to be built at the time) and of the staircase of the Spyglass Tower was not in place. This means that Natalee Holloway could never have been hidden and/or buried there."

"This leads to the conclusion that the claims made by Mr. De Jong of what he saw on the night of 30th of May 2005, cannot be correct, and that his testimony, considering the afore-mentioned, does not add to the solving of this case. Further investigation (in any manner whatsoever) under the staircase of the Spyglass Tower will not lead to finding the body of Natalee Holloway"

Peter..thoughts on that statement?

It would not be the first time a prosecutor lied..

Anonymous said...

anybody heard anything on the Elvis case? I wonder if they are still going to trial.

jen-d said...

Amanda Vining

There is missing info in McKnight's statement.

"When I arrived, I knocked on the door and a blue-eyed, blonde woman appeared."

"appeared"? as in an apparition?

He also didnt mention any luggage when he arrived at Vining's door or that he was with the intern yet these suddenly appeared when he entered the room.

When he was asked by police 'where is he coming from' he replied "In a room sir" ---
Isnt that place full of rooms? Why not specify which room, unless the police already know which room was he in.

I think he also gave himself away when he said, "before I could overreact," a-ha! was that what he was doing all along? why the need to overreact?

“A room, sir,”

jen-d said...

Im not sure though of Amanda's statement:

"I never mentioned his race."

and, in reference to her friend:

"She did not know the man at our apartment was African-American at the time of her call to police."

Im not sure of the difference between her other sentences of "didn't" and this "did not" or if that is relevant at all.

Annonymous17 said...

I believe that her story is more reliable. However, I find it interesting that she refers to him as "McKnight" up until the point that she says it has nothing to do with his race, then he's "Robert." Also, she refers to him as Robert when asking her hypothetical questions. Did she do this on purpose to soften her attitude toward him? I would think it's an indicator that they get along now, but she reverted back to "McKnight," so I don't think that's the case.

Anonymous said...

Amanda's account is the more honest one.

For starters, she makes it clear that she was NOT the one who called the police. Robert McKnight seems determined to convince the reader that she called the police because she is white, but Amanda clearly states with backing from her (black) roommate that it was in fact her roommate who called the police. This fact alone deconstructs Robert's entire argument.

Moreover, Amanda can write worth a damn. Robert's article is whiny and confusing. Amanda is clear, concise and thoroughly written.

Robert McKnight picked the wrong girl to miss with in my opinion. He probably didn't think that the person he chose to vilify would turn out to be smart and articulate. He dug his own grave with this one.

Sus said...

Robert McKnight
I agree that he doesn't give many details of the encounter, but you have to look at the context, or purpose, of his writing. He wrote this piece to show how he not only has to think of his actions, but how others will perceive his actions because of skin color. If he were writing a police account I'm sure he would add more detail. What he does state is reliable. As for introducing himself before the new tenant, notice he is moving in a South African Fellow...a student from a foreign country.

On the other hand, Amanda Vine's account is full of qualifiers and attempts to persuade. Actually, I find that Amanda's story backs up Robert's account when you look at her words closely.

Amanda begins by telling us she "returned home" twice. She was in her pajamas "so she could go to bed early" Going to bed early is sensitive to her. Maybe she was tired. Maybe she's been gone a lot.

Then there is a knock on the door. Not just a knock, but a FORCEFUL knock. A VERY FORCEFUL KNOCK. Yet, in her pajamas, "I opened the door." I do not believe the knock was unduly forceful.

Now she paints the man at the door as menacing..."trench coat", "demanded", "no lease or room assignment sheet", "forcefully". Yet..The menacing man says, "Good! I'm moving in my intern." He spun around and STARTED WALKING AWAY. These are Amanda's own words. He walked away from her (or started to) after getting the correct apartment and room. Amanda, who is supposedly scared, stops him to ask who the intern is!

She also says,"I never mentioned his race." Unreliable denial.

Another point that Ananda keeps making is that she didn't know who he was. "...the toilet in HIS INTERN's bathroom..." ...Amanda "I went outside to tell him (policeman) that I didn't know what was going on or who was in my apartment." From her language, yes she did.

Of all Amanda's statements, I wonder about this one. "...because (sensitive) an unidentified man (keys, lease, knew apt c was empty, identified self as helping to move in fellow.) approached (inflammatory language, insinuates he came near her unwanted. He knocked.) our (shared blame) all-female apartment (also inflammatory, insinuates he was only there because it was females.) after dark (she already said she had just gotten home 20 minutes earlier. Obviously the time is usual for legislative workers.) with a set of keys to our apartment in hand, (shared blame again. "In hand" is extra and could be seen as saying she doesn't like them in his hands.) with no one else present ( this is interesting. Wonder why she feels the need to tell us no one else was present.) and addressed us ( who is "us" since no one else was present? Kinda puts an interesting spin on the sensitivity of her "going to bed early" statement.) with belligerence and aggression. ( well, there it is. Robert McKnight asked about a room in her apartment. She had no problem opening the door. But when she saw the man standing there she saw belligerence and aggression and had no idea what he wanted. Isn't that what he said in his op-Ed piece?)

LisaB said...

Sus -
I felt that her remark "with no one else present" was to indicate that she was somewhat suspicious of his claims he was moving someone in, when the person he was supposedly moving wasn't present when he knocked. Honestly, I think the new ROOMMATE should have gone up first, with the keys and paperwork, and introduced herself and told them she had a man helping her move. This way, if someone wanted to put on something besides PJs or if there was someone in the shower, they would be forewarned that a man was coming in.

Unknown said...

I think Amanda's account appropriately has more qualifiers, due to the fact that she is addressing his allegations, and explaining the reasons behind her actions.

For instance, the addition of being in her pajamas, ready for bed as relevant, because it reveals her vulnerability, and her state of mind upon his arrival. She was 'undressed', ready for bed. She was not expecting company, or ANYONE to begin the process of moving in after dark.

I imagine myself in her position, and I think it is rather strange for a man to arrive after dark, claiming to be there to move things into an all female housing unit, without the tenant he claims to be helping in tow. I would have been concerned too, particularly when he presented a key, which conveyed to her in a not so subtle way that he was coming it or not.

Mean dog said...

Amanda is lying, she is a racist.
You can even ask her black friend to back up her racism.

"aware that my black skin in the eyes of some correlates with a perceived aggression"

Much like some people are scared of dogs whether it is a friendly dog or not. What I want to know, are blacks scared of blacks the same way people are scared of dogs, or is it only nonblacks who have that fear of blacks?

Lis said...

I think this illustrates how that a lot of what is blamed on race relations is really about other things under the surface.

Robert appears to be constructing a narrative to serve his purposes and he sees the other human beings as props to use in his story. It will work with many because they want to believe what he has to say. They are looking for a voice to voice what they want to say. This is how politics works.