“A man was shot dead outside a Hollywood nightclub early Sunday morning in the throes of a massive brawl,” TMZ boasts. “And our photog captured it all.”
That quote from the famously unapologetic gossip website describes a graphic video in which a young man is seen being gunned down outside of Hollywood’s Empire nightclub after a protracted street brawl. The video, posted Sunday night by TMZ staff, shows the pandemonium that erupted before and after the shooting, ending with a close-up shot of a young man’s lifeless body on the sidewalk, surrounded by devastated onlookers.
The young man in question was 19-year-old Andre Lowe, according to a petition on Change.org, which is calling on TMZ to remove the video out of respect for Lowe’s family.
Jason Andrews, Lowe’s uncle, posted the petition after four days of trying, to no avail, to get TMZ to remove the graphic footage, which features no celebrities and is of no apparent public interest outside of its shock value. IBTimes reached out to the gossip site for comment but did not get a reply.
“These people have no regard for the loved ones affected by this tragedy,” Andrews wrote in the petition. “I understand freedom of press but the line has to be drawn somewhere. What they did is wrong, and they need to be held accountable. No one wants to see their loved one in this position; having this event viewed by millions of strangers is disgusting.”
As of Thursday morning, the video has been shared more than 11,000 times on Facebook and Twitter. It also includes almost 1,000 user comments.
Andrews’ petition is calling for 1,000 signatures before it is sent to TMZ, which is owned by Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX). The unapologetic gossip site is known for ruffling feathers within the show business community, with snarky staffers often following celebrities around with cameras goading them for comments. However, some fans of the website think it crossed the line by posting footage of an apparent civilian murder.
“As a viewer of TMZ, I find this video was posted under a lack of judgment and absolute disregard to the families and friends of this young victim,” Tia Washington, who signed the petition, wrote.
Kathy McDow, a petition signatory from Ingleside, Tex., thinks it comes down to basic respect for the family of the deceased -- not something TMZ is known for. “The shooting victim is a member of my family, and him being viewed in this manner while others offer irreverent commentary is too much to bear,” she wrote on the petition.
Police have still not identified a suspect in the shooting, according to reports by both TMZ and Hollywood Patch.
Since it was posted early Thursday, Andrews’ petition has amassed 933 signatures. To read the full petition, click here.
[Update: 1/18/13] Andrews has upped the stakes, now asking for 10,000 signatures. The petition now has more than 9,000.