Lincoln was "a burly man with a violent past"
In the weeks
following the Good Friday killings, the media leaned hard on the theme that "Bear" Lincoln, 41, was a dangerous man.
Although newspapers had trouble getting some of the details right -- he was described as 51 years old in several stories, for example -- they didn't overlook that he was an ex-con convicting of beating a toddler, or that he had a long history of brushes with the law.
The most inflammatory stories appeared shortly after the murders. Using anonymous sources, Santa Rosa Press Democrat reporter Mary Callahan painted a fearsome picture on April 17th:
Lincoln, a paroled felon convicted in 1979 of savagely beating a 2-year-old girl, has a violent past that includes terrorizing his own family, one relative said Sunday.This description of a child-abuser who could "snap again" and terrorized family members was part of a front page story titled, "Authorities fear new bloodshed." Lincoln was "a burly man with a violent past" hiding somewhere in the valley, "armed and dangerous." A Deputy was quoted -- again anonymously -- saying, "There's assault weapons out there. This is dangerous stuff."
The statement was accurate, but incomplete; those assault weapons were carried by the army of police combing the reservation. No one knew what kind of gun Lincoln had, if any. The story left the impression that Lincoln was a maniac Rambo, armed to the teeth.
"The man I know is gentle and intelligent and has a green thumb"
A few days
later, Glenda Anderson of the Ukiah Daily Journal provided more background on Lincoln's past:
Eugene Allen "Bear" Lincoln, 51, has a troubled, sometimes violent history.This article continued with another description of his child-beating conviction.
But as far as the Albion Monitor can determine, none of the media has asked an important question: what kind of man is Bear Lincoln today? All of these reports of violence date back fifteen years or more -- except, of course, for the anonymous comments that appeared in the Press Democrat.
By all accounts, Bear Lincoln was indeed a troubled youth, but turned his life around in the early 1980's. After his imprisonment -- and family members insist that he did not beat the child, but took the rap for the mother -- Bear first turned to Christianity, then traditional spirituality. With his cousin Pat and wife Edwina, the Lincoln's have been active participants in the recently-acquired Sinkyone Wilderness as the U.S.'s first Native American park. Their work with Native American youth, teaching them their history and culture have been widely praised.
A testimonial to Bear Lincoln's character did appear in the Press Democrat on May 19th:
My organization, Plenty International, a nonprofit agency working with indigenous people around the world, has been working with native people at Round Valley since 1990 in a project aimed at developing home gardens.But, of course, that appeared as a letter to the editor, far from the front page. And it appeared only days before the sensationalized drama shown on "America's Most Wanted," which cemented the public image of Bear Lincoln as a ruthless cop-killer forever.
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