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Black-riot prevention: Prudence or profiling?

Posted By Colin Flaherty On 07/25/2013 @ 7:37 pm In Commentary,Opinion | No Comments

It seemed like a reasonable question: The AP reporter asked me if I thought the pundits and police overreacted to the Trayvon verdict when they predicted and prepared for riots, mayhem, lawlessness and all sorts of other black mob violence.

Toure and his crew on MSNBC thought so. He said anyone who anticipated violence was a racist, blah, blah, blah. The other panelists dutifully and mournfully nodded their head in agreement as they always do when Toure makes one of his pronouncements on pervasive and permanent racism.

Which is pretty much all the time.

Post-verdict, we saw some violence, with the worst in Oakland and Los Angeles. Like most black mob violence, police and media tried to pretend it was less than it was.

My favorite story was the L.A. news anchor introducing a riot. But before doing so, she stressed several times that the rally was peaceful, but a “few” people had gotten “rowdy” – the same word the Los Angeles Times used for another nasty bit of racial violence the following day.

Then she tossed it to her reporter in the field, who did the same thing during his voice over – with one difference: They were rolling videotape of a black mob swarming over an older white dude, beating the stuffing out of him, belying the report.

Even so, most of the demonstrators were peaceful, they insisted. Even the people who watched; even the ones who did not lift a finger to help; even the ones who did not turn the violent offenders over to police. All peaceful.

In Houston, a black mob tried to stop a grandmother taking a child to the hospital. When they car did not stop, several protesters grabbed and punched at the occupants. A local paper described the rally as “peaceful.”

We also saw largely unreported black mob violence not connected to the Trayvon verdict in places like Baltimore, Chicago, Rochester, Utica, Denver, Long Island, Brooklyn, Niagra, Portland, Madison, Lockland, Teaneck, Bridgewater, Milwaukee, Wilson, New Haven, St. Paul , St. Louis, 29 Palms and more.

Didn’t hear about it? That’s why I wrote “White Girl Bleed a Lot”: Lots of black mob violence is ignored. Unreported. Even condoned.

And of course let’s not forget the threats of post-verdict violence that filled Twitter by the thousands.

Now the Associated Press, Time magazine and others are wondering if all the preparations for post-Trayvon violence were overkill, a symptom of the white racism and white supremacy keeping so many black Americans down.

This is not a hypothetical question. It is the exact question city leaders in Indianapolis had to answer just a few days after the acquittal as they prepared for their annual Black Expo. For the last 10 years, Black Expo has featured some nasty violence, shootings, looting, rampaging and other mayhem after the Friday and Saturday night events released thousands of black people into the downtown.

Last year, police were ready. This year too: They turned downtown into a police state complete with towers, high-powered weapons, dogs, SWAT, tactical vehicles, infra red binoculars and police breaking up crowds of five or more and telling them to split up.

Miami Beach was faced with the same choice over the Memorial Day weekend as it prepared for the 300,000 black people in town for the annual Black Beach Week.

This event has a similar history, but way worse: Shootings. Lawlessness. Robberies. Assaults. Defiance. Property destruction. Vandalism. Drugs. And like Indianapolis, trash: Mountains and mountains of trash on the streets and beaches of this town that manages to stay pristine 51 weeks a year.

Miami Beach used the same play book: Towers. Lights. Dogs. Guns. Cops. Cops. And more cops everywhere.

After the fact, some saw the lack of violence in Indy and Miami as a success. Others wondered if all the police presence was an overreaction. Profiling.

Rapper Luther Campbell – you may remember him from “Me So Horny” – is credited with being one of the founders of Black Beach Week. A few years ago, he said he stopped going because it was too dangerous even for him.

But this year, after the heavy police presence quashed some of the lawlessness, Campbell started singing a different song to the Miami New Times:

“It’s because there are more police on the street bent on locking people up for insignificant crimes that are ignored except during the last weekend in May. All these measures are designed to make African-Americans feel uncomfortable so they don’t come back next year.”

Maybe his next song could be “Me So Confused.”

So you make the call: Cops stopped riots. Or riot preparation is just another example of the over-policing that fills prisons with disproportionate amounts of black people.

Easy enough to settle. Call Indy. Call Miami Beach. Ask the Mayors if they plan on going cop-less next year.

Let me know.


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