(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed) — We’ve all seen those comments when all-too-familiar fatal police shootings in America trigger protests that lead to riots. “Those Black Lives Matter thugs are destroying their own neighborhoods,” people shout on social media. “BLM ARE TERRORISTS!”
“Black on black crime” suddenly becomes a topic of expertise for Facebook commentators. Never mind the epidemic of police killing over a thousand Americans every year, with black males facing the highest per-capita execution-by-police rates of any group.
Media commentators are quick to condemn the riots as misplaced anger that simply destroys the rioters’ own communities. Focus shifts away from the peaceful protests against police killings, instead devoting a bulk of their coverage on the merits (or lack thereof) of rioting, watering down what causes them. The media fails to make any mention of the fact that many political riots begin as regular protests and become riots after heavy-handed police tactics provoke a response from the attendees.
If you’re fighting for your right to not be killed by the government, riots are apparently an act of terror, according to many Americans. Fighting for your freedom, these commentators often say, are cowardly acts of vandalism and looting, punishable by the utmost severity. Blocking a street is punishable by death, some Facebook commenters say. Many politicians agree with that sentiment, and running over protesters may soon be legal in some states.
But when Americans riot over sports games, which is actually much more common than anti-police brutality rioting, those same commentators are nowhere to be found.
“Somehow, it seems there’s a line drawn in the sand where destruction of property because of a sports victory is OK and acceptable in America. However, if you have people who are fighting for their most basic human right, the right to live, they will be condemned,” Black Lives Matter New York President Hawk Newsome told Newsweek. “You can riot if you’re white and your team wins, but if you’re black and being killed, you can’t speak out… I wish they wouldn’t riot, but I can’t condemn them and neither can anyone else, especially not the media, especially not politicians when they condone people who are just drunk and destroying property because their team won.”
"A guy in a four-wheeler just ran over a cop."
"We need more shields and riot gear."
"Some kids just flipped over an SUV and set it on fire."
"We got a couple hundred people on this light pole."
But football players kneeling is disprespectful. #phillypolicescanner
— PopRelics (@PopRelics) February 5, 2018
All too often, sporting events cause riots, but they are met with different coverage by the media, and the outrage against rioting on social media seems to be missing in action. Sports riots are simply alcohol-fueled celebrations that became rowdy. It’s just boys being boys. It’s just happy people showing their joy.
On Sunday, a local ABC affiliate described the rioting as “rowdy” “celebrations” as a car was flipped over.
Post #SuperBowl celebrations in Center City are getting rowdy as people are seen flipping a car. http://6abc.cm/2nEZUk5
Posted by 6abc Action News on Sunday, February 4, 2018
Keeping with this theme, Fox News’ coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles riot was not critical at all. “Flipping a car and celebrating in the streets. That’s some way to celebrate, huh?” the Fox anchor said.
CNN’s top story on the Philadelphia riot called the chaos an act of “pure poetry.”
“As was expected, the city of Philadelphia reacted to their well-earned Super Bowl win with brotherly grace and aplomb,” CNN reported this morning. “LOL, you see it’s a funny joke because frankly it’s a miracle that place is still standing.”
Is it possible that Americans and the mainstream media don’t actually oppose rioting as a principle, but rather, grant their approval based on who is rioting and for what reason? It certainly appears that way.
As if to highlight my point, the arrest counts are in from the Super Bowl. In Minneapolis, 17 Black Lives Matter activists were arrested for peacefully protesting the big game. In Philadelphia, three people were arrested after lighting the city on fire.
The message is clear: Don’t stand up for your rights because if you’re black and protest in a way we disagree with (or protest at all), you’re a traitor who should be run over in the street. But if you light your city on fire after winning the Super Bowl, it’s all just innocent fun, right? There’s no other way to say this: The hypocrisy over the Super Bowl riot — from the media and the public in general — is fucking outrageous.