CNN is wrong. What we are seeing night after night are not peaceful protests. No matter how many times the cable news outlet repeats it, we all recognize the riots are violent, dangerous and cannot be allowed to continue.
Like much of America, I watched the savage protests unfolding all over America this past weekend with a sense of horror and dread. The attacks on people, on public safety officers and on private property were upsetting to say the least. Surreal would be the right word.
CNN and other major news outlets continually covered the violence and destruction as it unfolded, first in Minneapolis and then in cities all over America. Despite the fact they focused their cameras on burning buildings and shameless looting, CNN, MSNBC and even Fox News kept assuring the viewing public that we were watching peaceful protests. It’s all happening, we were told, as a result of the senseless police killing of George Floyd.
Mr. Floyd’s death is the logical place to start the discussion. He was killed at the hands of multiple police officers last Monday while being detained for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill. Three of the four officers held George Floyd down by kneeling on him as he lay face down on the ground. Passerby of all backgrounds, including men, women, black and white all pleaded with the Officers to get off Floyd. “You’re killing him” more than one person told the police. This was not an angry mob. In fact everyone involved was rationale and reasonable. Everyone as it turns out, except Officer Derek Chauvin, who was kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck, and his fellow officers. A nearly nine minute video recording captured by one witness quite literally shows the life leave Floyd’s body. It is gut wrenching to watch.
I have yet to meet, see or hear anyone who thinks otherwise, regardless of race, gender or ethnicity. Virtually everyone agrees. Floyd’s treatment and death at the hands of the four police officers was inexcusable.
Why then does CNN think it needs to spoon feed the American public a narrative about the rioting based in fiction. Protests that took place in more than 40 cities across America this past weekend were violent. Innocent people were killed. Millions of dollars in public property was destroyed. Private property valued in the tens of millions was obliterated. Police officers in each city attempted to maintain order in the chaos. As the CNN cameras broadcast burning police cars and bottles being thrown at officers, reporter Paul Vercammen did all he could to cast law enforcement in the role of the bad guys. He spoke of “Police chasing people down and detaining them for unknown reasons” as the police cuffed one individual on the ground. In an apparent effort to paint the detainee as casual passerby Vercammen continued, “there have not been any windows broken out.” Simultaneously on camera were nine police vehicles, all of which had their windshields smashed, side windows broken, their tires slashed, their exteriors spray painted and at least one vehicle was fully engulfed in flames. Unknown reasons? Vercammen was saying exactly the opposite of what his camera crew was showing us.
The CNN anchor back in the studio was Ana Cabrera. She continued the artificial narrative. These peaceful protests “didn’t start out as violent.” That’s like saying the date went really well until the guy decided to rape the woman he was with, but in general it was a pleasant evening. Every event is the sum of its parts. Cabrera went on to compare the protests to the marches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I have no recollection of seeing any MLK march where people climbed onto police cars, poured lighter fluid on them and set them on fire.
These were not peaceful protests.
In New York City two people, both attorneys as it turned out, threw a Molotov cocktail into a police car with four officers inside it. Bricks and bottles were thrown continually at police officers trying to maintain civility. On Saturday alone at least 47 police vehicles were damaged or destroyed. 33 officers were injured. That’s not peaceful.
In Chicago four people were shot at a demonstration organized by Black Lives Matter. More than 3,000 people took to the streets, climbing on cars and buses, lighting police cars on fire and looting area businesses. That’s not peaceful.
In Denver a car intentionally rammed into a police vehicle. The reported result was that three police officers and one civilian were “severely” injured. Hundreds of rioters armed with baseball bats, crowbars, rifles and guns all attacked police. That’s not peaceful.
In California the governor declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County after hundreds of looters converged on downtown stores and clashed with cops. 500 people were arrested and five police officers were hurt as protests turned violent. That’s not peaceful.
In Philadelphia at least 13 police officers were injured during store break-ins, widespread looting and a variety of fires set to buildings and vehicles. The police commissioner estimated the number of rioters to be in excess of 3,000. That’s not peaceful.
In Indianapolis two people were killed and several others wounded in what police described as multiple shootings Saturday night in the midst of the riots. That’s not peaceful.
In Oakland, California, two Federal Protective Services officers were shot, one fatally, while they were posted at the city’s federal building. That’s not peaceful.
In Rochester, New York, a husband and wife were beaten by a group of men wielding 2x4 pieces of lumber. The couple’s offense? They had been trying to stand guard at the sporting clothes and sneaker store they own. Apparently the men not only believed they were entitled to take goods from the store, but could attempt to kill anyone who tried to stop them. How does that even remotely honor the memory of George Floyd?
The simple fact is that none of the incidents above, nor the thousands of other acts of violence that have occurred in the last week, have even the slightest to do with honoring a victim of police violence. These senseless acts only serve to further divide a nation already walking on eggshells.
Twenty-four Governors plus the District of Columbia have called out the National Guard in an attempt to keep the peace and to protect life, liberty and property. The National Guard would not have been requested if the protests were truly peaceful. When 24 Governors have said “We cannot protect ourselves. This situation is too violent. We need the help of the National Guard,” we are not witnessing peaceful protests. We are watching anarchy.
The Minneapolis police department killing of George Floyd was reprehensible. Those responsible must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. But that same law must apply to everyone. Former officer Chauvin’s inexcusable acts do not give amnesty to a nation of violent protesters seeking to ignore the rule of law themselves. Every individual has a responsibility to follow the law, even when expressing anger at the system.
Likewise the national news networks have a responsibility to their millions of viewers. Report the truth. Report it accurately and completely. We all see the horror of Floyd’s death. Many among us wish to express anger and frustration at his killing, but the reality is that the protests have turned violent in virtually every city. Why then are we being told repeatedly these are peaceful protests? They aren’t.
When cable news networks craft a fictional account the way they wish was rather than telling us what is actually happening, they cease to be news organizations. Call them activists. Call them story tellers. Call them entertainers. Do not call them journalists however. There is no hard news in making the story up the way one wishes it to be.
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