Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Outrage in 170 cities remains off Star-Advertiser’s radar

(Reuters) - Students at medical schools around the United States planned "die-ins" to protest the chokehold death by police of an unarmed black man and New York activists demanded the city take action after a grand jury declined to indict the officer involved.

Protests intensified last week after the grand jury decision to not charge a white New York City police officer in the July death of Eric Garner, who was unarmed. The decision came a week after a Missouri grand jury did not indict a white officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teen.—Reuters, U.S. chokehold protesters 'die-in', issue demands in NY, 12/10/2014)

by Larry Geller

The pull-quote above is just one of any number of wire service or newspaper stories related to the ongoing protests occurring nationwide related to police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York City.

While the Star-Advertiser covered events directly related to the two incidents yesterday, it has yet to let readers know of the breadth of protests—or the length of time that people have been marching, blocking traffic and trains, holding die-ins or choke-ins, and yes, on occasion looting and destroying property. Each article related to one of the killings, as though they were isolated events. The article beginning “Protests in New York and Missouri have died down” appeared elsewhere dated three days ago (12/7) although it ran in the S-A yesterday (12/9), so was old information anyway. As to dying down, vigils and protests are ongoing, including at LAPD headquarters tonight, for example.

I was amused to see two articles in the editorial section today that referred to news the paper hasn’t bothered to cover.

The first article they picked, by a conservative talk show host, also fails to mention the nationwide sympathy and actions that are rocking the country.

Unlike Ferguson, the Garner death invites principled disagreement that can actually yield constructive progress—at least if we can keep agitator Al Sharpton away from cameras and microphones, and if President Barack Obama and his outgoing attorney general can restrain themselves from using these events to paint a false portrait of a racially poisonous America.

[Star-Advertiser p. A12, Defining what justice means, 12/10/2014]

Let’s see… suppressing free speech and objecting to the possibility of an independent federal investigation, as many around the country are calling for? And as to “false portrait,” the commonly cited “a black man is killed by police in this country every 28 hours” would seem to indicate that race relations could well be described as poisonous. [As I write this, reports are saying that a black man was killed by police in Sanford, N.C. while the police were attempting to serve a warrant—no further information yet.]

Perhaps the editor’s choice to present this article coupled with the lack of coverage of nationwide discussion and demonstrations paints the false portrait.

Next to this article is a commentary by Leonard Pitts. He refers to the demonstrations that readers may be puzzled about, if their only source of news is the Star-Advertiser. A snip from Pitts:

The fact that these actions continue nationwide as the weather turns and have even spread across the ocean (there was a protest last month at the U.S. Embassy in London) is a sign this issue has staying power.

But what’s even more noteworthy is that this is not a “black” protest. To the contrary, images from these demonstrations show us that a rainbow coalition is offended by the message the injustice system sends in refusing to punish these killings, i.e., that it is somehow “OK” to kill unarmed African-American men and boys.

Pitts mentions next that churches will be holding “Black Lives Matter” services this weekend. Perhaps churches in Hawaii will participate—now that they have heard about the plan.

Twitter followers will recognize the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter,” and sports fans may have seen players sporting the slogan across their chests.

Pitts closes with a mention of Martin Luther King’s sermon 59 years ago this month, in which King said “There comes a time when people get tired.”

Suddenly, it feels like the 1960s again, with swirling movements for social justice finding inspiration and a powerful common denominator in the struggle for black equality.

Multiracial, multi-ethnic, multi-class, and multi-generational Americans have swarmed the streets in vast numbers to not only protest against racial injustice but to expose systemic oppression that has been an open secret since the heyday of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

While violence engulfed parts of downtown Ferguson, 170 cities staged largely peaceful demonstrations both in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and in demand of a vision of social justice that far surpasses the imagination of most contemporary politicians and pundits.

Thousands of New Yorkers took to the streets on Wednesday and Thursday nights to express outrage against the political system that allowed a black man to be choked to death while screaming, “I can’t breathe!”

[Reuters, ‘I can’t breathe’: Why Eric Garner protests are gaining momentum, 12/5/2014]

If we’re at a turning point in race relations in this country, you wouldn’t know it if your only news source were the Star-Advertiser.

Related: Citizen Run Database Shows Over 1,000 People Killed by Cops in 2014


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