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Behind the Police and Media Lies: Black Protests are “Riots”

Behind the Police and Media Lies: Black Protests are “Riots”

Riots! It’s a word that’s been tossed around a lot in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict. And while we’ve heard it used, we have yet to see it because… well, there haven’t really been any actual riots. Allegations that communities of color would rise up to wreak havoc after the miscarriage of justice for Trayvon Martin have proven to be wild speculation rather than reality.

Certainly, there have been protests. Many cities throughout the country have hosted vigils and rallies in Martin’s honor, but these events have remained largely peaceful. Why, then, have First Amendment-protected rights been construed as something much more violent and destructive?

Well, if there’s one thing that certain white people are afraid of more than the sight of a single black person, it’s the sight of several black people in a group… particularly those who are shouting discontent with the system. It’s the same ingrained prejudice that led Zimmerman to view an unarmed Martin as a threat that causes society to worry about the intent of black and brown activists… presuming their call for justice includes harm to others.

It’s telling that one of the jurors on Zimmerman’s trial erroneously believed that there had already been race-based “riots” following Martin’s death. If her mentality is that black people are violent troublemakers, she would always have the reasonable doubt necessary to acquit Zimmerman given that she can empathize with the idea that Martin could be considered a danger.

While people’s subconscious biases have certainly contributed to exaggerations of rioting, the government has played a role in this misinformation campaign as well. Prior to the delivery of the verdict, Florida police confirmed that they were preparing for riots if Zimmerman were acquitted. Furthermore, the Department of Justice and Homeland Security confirmed they were coordinating with police in the event of riots, as well. So why were people expecting riots? Probably because the authorities told them to!

Pundits played a role, too. Pat Buchanan has been “warning” his followers of race riots stemming from this trial for months now. Additionally, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich compared the weekend’s protests to a “lynch mob” on CNN. Not only is this a gross characterization of the peaceful assemblies, but it is also an ignorant choice of words considering the historical context: around the turn of the 20th century, white Americans were responsible for lynching thousands of African Americans.

A video that purported to show Miami residents “rioting in the streets” after the Zimmerman verdict went viral over the weekend. It turns out, however, that no such riots occurred and the video is actually a clip of Vancouver citizens causing destruction in their own streets following a hockey loss. Still, hoaxes like this only help contribute to the idea of minority uprisings.

The most substantial incident of rioting occurred in Oakland, California, although initial reports of the area’s unrest exaggerated the damage and number of people participating. Considering that the city’s protesters have been routinely clashing with police in recent years, it seems unfair to attribute the vandalism solely to the Zimmerman verdict without also acknowledging the ongoing power struggle between Oakland’s authorities and residents.

The media and state’s eagerness to proliferate the idea of race riots in the absence of them seems like an attempt to bolster the same prejudices that cause this trouble in the first place. If you’re looking for evidence of an outright conspiracy, look no further than Los Angeles, where the media reported that Sunday protesters vandalized the W Hotel. In an on camera interview, Police Commander Andrew Smith confirmed that rioters had “stormed” the hotel and caused $15,000 worth of damage.

There’s one big problem with this story, however: it didn’t happen. As W Hotel representatives are happy to report, no damage was done and the protesters at no point threatened the hotel or guests. When the LAPD was asked whether it would set the record straight, the police’s media representative said, “No, but you will.” The police’s initial lie and the unwillingness to present the truth raises all sorts of red flags.

Then, on Tuesday night, about a dozen minors were arrested for committing acts of vandalism and theft on Hollywood Boulevard. Although police clarified that the teenagers were not actively participating in a Trayvon Martin protest, they stated that they had reason to believe that the arrested individuals had participated in such rallies over the weekend. Given the previous lie about the W Hotel, it seems valid to ask why LAPD is attempting to make a connection between Zimmerman protesters and this later criminal activity.

As someone who has attended a couple of Trayvon Martin rallies in Los Angeles, I can assure you the ones looking for riots are those who come prepared for one… the police. Even as our assembly broke into small discussion circles to discuss our current political climate, the police presence was heavy, as if to indicate that formulating potential steps to alleviate systematic racism was something that needed to be monitored. Meanwhile, the police are the people who wear the riot gear. Moreover, they are the only ones who wound up firing weapons (rubber bullets and beanbags) later that night.

Of course, if recent Occupy actions have been any indication, the police and government are not fans of protests in general. With protest “disaster drills” and human rights violations directed at protesters, it’s hard not to see the conscious attempt to discourage free speech in this country. The fact that a heightened number of participants in the Trayvon Martin protests are non-Caucasian just allows the powers that be to use existing prejudices to more easily portray dissent as dangerous, criminal, and “riotous,” too.

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Photo credit: Kevin Mathews

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219 comments

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5:29PM PDT on Jul 30, 2013

Noted.

10:47AM PDT on Jul 28, 2013

The Media used pictures dated 03-25-12 of TM as a child in what looks like a ski suite and GZ as a brute here; eg. http://abcnews.go.com/US/george-zimmermans-attorney-friend-speak-trayvon-martin-incident/story?id=15999256

There is an unspoken media issue at hand here. It seems that this case is being used. I think this is more disturbing than the case.

With regards to gun control; the government talks about controlling licensed gun owners but has no plans to control the undocumented guns that are the cause of mostly all the crimes and shootings.

It is a mystery to me on how we have way more unlicensed guns on your streets that we do registered guns.

10:36AM PDT on Jul 28, 2013

Dale B. looking at the Examiner.com picture of GZ face the night of the encounter http://www.examiner.com/article/color-photo-of-george-zimmerman-s-broken-nose-finnally-released
His nose does look broken. I can only guess that the punch was so powerful that it knocked GZ to the ground. The mystery remains, why didn't TM run away? Why did TM have to jump on top of GZ and bang GZ head continuously on the concrete? It looks like TM was not at all threatened by the presences of GZ at all and wanted to cause life threating damage or even death to GZ.

2:16AM PDT on Jul 28, 2013

I am not anti gun I think the NRA is setting us up for all out warfare between citizens. EVERYONE should have a gun according to them and everyone should be afraid and everyone should stand their ground and and and. I havent touched a gun since Nam. I see no reason to touch one in the next 40 years either. That doesnt mean YOU can't.

Zikmmerman was fighting a 150 lb BOY . A Boy he shouldnt have been following a boy who he should have announced himself to. Hey I am the neighborhood watch or s like that. But according to his own testimony he never announced to Trayvon why he was following him.

Guns dont scare me……immature wanna-be-cops and vigilantes scare me. And I will speak where I wish how I wish. if you dodnt like it you can skip my posts. Thank you.

12:48AM PDT on Jul 28, 2013

No one knows what happened during the confrontation. Z didn't disobey anyone. Dispatcher has no right to order anything. BUT, it would've been better if Z HAD heeded his advice- we wouldn't have lost 2 lives. But this witch-hunt for guns continues & "justice for trayvan's" gotten old. What will be the next distraction from more important things like Benghazi, F&F, 14.X% unemp rate, etc...? All this has done is divide 2 races further & cause tons of violence- didn't hold a candle to Channon Christian & Christopher Newsom's torture murders. It was hideously irresponsible of BO to say "If I had a son he'd look like trayvan." And jackson & sharpton are race baiting sacks just dying for another min of fame! Our country hasn't been so racially divided since the 60's. But, divide & conquer...

Robert H "There was NOTHING intimidatating about Trayvon even the lead investigator told Zimmerman that."

The lead investigator said it? REALLY? Well then, it MUST be true! HTF would you or anyone else determine what is "intimidatating," late at night, w/out being there? What's intimidating is really up to the person being attacked. But since we don't know who attacked whom first... Direct your BS anti-gun crap elsewhere. But despite my disgust for anti-Constitutioners, I STILL hope you never have the need for one. I wouldn't wish that on anyone but the truly evil.

4:22PM PDT on Jul 26, 2013

Thanks for the advice David, but I'm not the gun type. It is because when I was 13 I watched my 12 year old best friend accidentally shot another kid in the face with a 22. For a split second I thought he missed, but then blood squirted about six feet out of the hole in the kids cheek. He died two days later from a blood clot and I have never had the urge to own a gun since.

Zimmerman only has himself to blame for the superficial wounds (deadly force?) that he received. He knew as a Neighborhood Watch Volunteer that he was not suppose to pursue anyone, especially when armed. Trayvon Martin had every right to defend himself against someone who was chasing him. No wonder one of the jurors said Zimmerman got away with murder, because he did.

10:07PM PDT on Jul 25, 2013

There is your answer david thinks we should ALL have guns and be shooting at each other. I have found that most of the time if you dodnt look like a vicitim and you act like you belong there you wont even be approached.

10:05PM PDT on Jul 25, 2013

Nice distortion of what happened David You have NO idea what Trayvon was worried about. Some guy was following him around in the dark and never even bothered to announce who he ws or why he was following him.

6:07PM PDT on Jul 25, 2013

Dale, You as a law abiding citizen you should get a CHL in case some black night, a tall person in a hoodie thinks he was disrespected and follows and assaults you with deadly force. Either that, or get big dogs.

5:24PM PDT on Jul 25, 2013

I agree with you CC C. I would also like to say it's refreshing when two people can debate a subject without being nasty. You should see how ugly it gets on my local rant and rave and political sections on my City's Craig's List.

My concern about this case is personal since I live in Florida. I walk around my neighborhood every day with my dogs. It's only the times I walk alone I that I wonder how I would handle an encounter with someone who comes up to me in a threatening manner. I always thought my only option would be to fight the person if I felt threatened. But because of the verdict, I realize I don't have the right to stand my ground like I thought I did. I'm not sure exactally how I am suppose to handle someone who is chasing me down if the need arises.

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