Talk sheds light on riot coverage in media

Dana Hatchett, Alligator Staff Writer May 12, 2015

The chant “Black lives matter, Black lives matter” filled the air in the Civic Media Center on Monday.

The power of the chant silenced the room.

The center presented “Riot or Uprising?” a presentation which looked at the biased reporting of racial riots throughout history.

The evening provided the audience with information about the long history of biased media coverage on riots.

“Media has characterized protesters as thugs,” said Kenzie Cooke, one of the organizers of the event. “The protesters are criminalized while the media fails to focus on racist police forces.”

The audience was shown race riots that happened throughout history.

The riots were viewed as the spark to riots that are occurring today, such as the riots currently going on in Baltimore.

Nailah Summers, the other organizer of the event, argued that nobody talks about the violence imposed on the protesters by police forces.

With events such as the Trayvon Martin case in Central Florida case and the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore, the event magnified the harshness of the American media and its portrayal of black protesters.

A news reporter was shown in a video calling the protesters in Baltimore “thugs and looters” and said that it was appropriate for her to refer to them as that because President Barack Obama did. The audience was asked to dig deeper into the riots of the past to realize that these protests did not come out of the blue.

“I’m glad that there’s a vested interest of the black community,” Summers said at the end of the night. “We had a full house. It’s encouraging and heartening.”

[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 5/12/15]


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