The press held hostage: terrorism in a small North Carolina town

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Patterson, Oscar, III. “The press held hostage: terrorism in a small North Carolina town.” American Journalism 15.4 (Fall 1998): 125-39.


Patterson analyzes the February 1, 1988, incident in which two Tuscarora activists held employees of the Robesonian newspaper hostage in order to gain remedies for corruption and discrimination against Native Americans in  Robeson County. Patterson cites the incident as the first time Native Americans had used terrorist methods against the press. Patterson provides a good deal of background information on definitions and characteristics of terrorism, on Robeson County's triracial composition, and on tensions that existed at the time of the hostage-taking as well as throughout the country's history. He describes the newspaper office takeover, Hatcher's assertions that his life was in danger because of evidence he possessed about the county sheriff's involvement in the drug trade, and the conditions under which Hatcher released the Robesonian employees.

Eddie Hatcher and Timothy Jacobs were the first U.S. citizens charged under the 1984 Anti-Terrorist Act. Patterson concludes that although Hatcher believes he deserves credit for changes in the county since 1988, “...the county changed, not because of the hostage-taking, but in spite of it.... Their siege cannot be considered a factor in the political, cultural, and racial changes that took place in the ten years after the Robesonian was held hostage” (p. 137).

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