After Saturday’s full day of peaceful protests in Baltimore calling for justice for Freddie Gray — the 25-year-old who recently died of a spinal injury suffered while in police custody — some protesters opted Saturday evening and Sunday to pursue more hands-on expressions of frustration. On Monday, the day of Gray’s memorial service, public tensions led to rioting in West Baltimore that continued into the evening.
The media also ran riot. As of Saturday night, the protests were said to have turned “violent” and “destructive.” ABC News initially reported that protesters had simply “become rowdy” but quickly amended the headline to incorporate the V-word. Conservative news site Breitbart.com took full advantage of its lack of editorial constraints to proclaim, “War zone: Baltimore erupts into violence, chaos as #BlackLivesMatter riots rage.”
When crowds turned to rioting on Monday, CNN legal analyst and New Yorker contributor Jeffrey Toobin took the opportunity on Anderson Cooper 360 to denounce the city. “Protest is an honorable thing; looting and criminality are not,” he said. “Baltimore disgraced itself today.” For Toobin, it’s as if nothing disgraceful or criminal happened before Monday, as if the city’s long history of racist police violence weren’t disgrace enough to be worth comment.On the receiving end of that violence have been teenagers, pregnant women, and octogenarian grandmothers.
Finally, the media found, the protesters were behaving according to the script — the one that casts black communities in America as powder kegs that can be contained only by the cops. Never mind that chucking hot dog buns and condiments at police and smashing up police vehicles and store windows is inherently less destructive, at least in terms of human life, than fatally severing a person’s spinal cord or shooting an unarmed man multiple times in the back. The latter two operations were performed under the sanction of U.S. law enforcement, whose behavior, no matter how outrageous, is still defended from public outrage by media and politicians alike. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA AMERICA.