Thursday, May 21, 2015

Location, location, location

Oh, and: film at 11. 

Coleman noted that protests, some violent, that flared up around the police killings of black men, most of which involved an overwhelmingly black crowd, were called "riots" while college and professional sports championship celebrations and losses that turned violent, most of which involved an overwhelmingly white crowd, are not.

"But when you look at Ferguson, or you look at a Baltimore, when you look at these sorts of incidents, we have a tendency vis-a-vis the media to actually question why it happened to the victim, and we go further and then we impute liability on the entire community and sort of do this systematic victim blaming of black America," he said.

Texas Monthly's Dan Solomon wrote Monday in a column that comparing Waco with Baltimore or Ferguson "was probably not an apples-to-apples situation."

"But it's nonetheless difficult to imagine that if a shoot-out involving dozens of young black men that ended with nearly 30 casualties had happened in a strip mall in Waco, it would be perceived as an isolated incident involving only the people who drew their guns — or that police would be chatting and friendly with people in the area in gang attire afterward," Solomon wrote.

The gathering at the Twin Peaks in Waco was not a protest.  Bikers didn't gather to object to the commodification of America, the strip-malling of America, the objectification of women in "breastauraunts," or the ugliness of urban sprawl (most of I-35 between Dallas and San Antonio is now a forest of signs and parking lots).  They didn't gather to protest the injustice done to veterans of foreign wars (biker gang actually started after World War II, and every war thereafter has added to their ranks), or even to their portrayal on the Fox Network.

They were there to make trouble over who had the right to wear a patch among their "colors."  And that's why Waco police and McClennan County Sheriff's officers were there.  And when the shooting started (because someone unjustly ran over someone else's foot in the parking lot; O, the humanities! O, the inequities and vicissitudes of an uncaring society!), people started shooting, and apparently a lot of people ran for cover.

As gunfire broke out in the parking lot of a Texas restaurant, dozens of motorcycle riders ran inside seeking cover and tried to guide others to safety, security video reviewed exclusively by The Associated Press showed Wednesday.

The video, shared by representatives of the restaurant, shows bikers on the patio ducking under tables and trying to get inside. At least three people were holding handguns. One biker was seen running with blood on his face, hands and torso.

The footage shows only one round being fired — by a biker on the patio who then ran inside.
Video shows police with assault rifles entering the front door at about the same time. As two officers enter, bikers can be seen lying on the floor with their hands spread.
Police didn't use tear gas and tanks because they didn't need to.  Law enforcement was able to arrest 170 people rather easily and quietly, once they got the shooting stopped.  It also explains why TV cameras weren't there to record that mayhem; by the time the media had heard about the story, there was nothing to photograph but bikers waiting to be hauled off to jail.  Events in Ferguson and Baltimore went on for days; the incident in Waco was over before evening.

I still think it's a pity the Twin Peaks restaurant wasn't burned to the ground (no great loss, but great video!).  But Waco is not Ferguson is not Baltimore because these are not at all similar situations.  The prisoners are all being held on $1 million bail, but Jay-Z and Beyonce (or Donald Trump and George Soros) aren't going to be bailing them out anytime soon, and the closest thing to a mother yanking her kid off the protest line is a wife who claims her husband was innocently in the wrong place at the wrong time on the wrong vehicle.  Whether or not that proves out, don't expect her to become a viral phenomenon or get invited onto any TV shows soon.

More importantly, this wasn't the protest of a community, of a neighborhood, of people tired of injustice and ill-treatment.  This was a bunch of idiots on motorcycles with too easy access to firearms and a too-stupid reason to use them (Territory?  Seriously?).

Yes, there is a severe degree of bias and even racism in news coverage and attitudes about who is responsible for acts of violence and what terms we should use to describe it (though the argument over whether or not these bikers were "thugs" is supremely silly).  But this incident is not the poster-child for that problem.

And it really doesn't do anything for that problem to complain so much about the narrative for this incident.  Especially because the real story here may end up being the mass arrests of people who can't be charged with any crime except going to a tacky restaurant on a motorcycle.  And will we then complain about the curtailment of their civil liberties?  Or complain the police didn't beat them enough?

No comments:

Post a Comment