Opinion: Eron Hill On Baltimore Protests, Media

April 28, 2015

[Opinion column written by Eron Hill]

“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” – Malcom X

Many if not most Bermudians have had the opportunity to view the news footage from Baltimore, Maryland involving the mysterious and curious death of Freddie Gray, which has sparked outrage worldwide. Mr. Gray’s fatal encounter with officers came amid the  national debate over the issue of the protracted use of force by the U.S. police, particularly involving African American citizens. The police have reported that Gray was arrested after making eye contact with officers and then running away. He was held down, handcuffed and subsequently loaded into a van without a seat belt. Cuffs were then placed on his legs when he became irate inside.

Reports indicate that he asked for medical help several times prior to being placed in the van; however paramedics were not called until after a 30-minute ride. Police have acknowledged he should have received medical attention on the spot where he was arrested, but they have not said how his spine was injured.

Buildings burning, officers wearing helmets and wielding shields, and damaged property were plastered on nearly every mainstream news station on television yesterday. People flooded Baltimore streets Monday, torching a pharmacy, setting police cars ablaze and throwing bricks at officer’s hours after thousands mourned the man who died from a severe spinal injury he suffered in police custody.

The news reported that many of those on the streets appeared to be African-American youths. On every major news station there were photos and footage of young men and women in the streets; they were described as “terrorist” “extremist” “vigilantes” and other less than flattering depictions.

It is somewhat tragically ironic that the killing of Mr. Gray though garnering some media attention, and which was the indisputable impetus for the current explosion of frustration and angst, misguided and inappropriate as it may be… I will leave you to draw your own conclusions; was not met with the same level of media attention than Monday’s protest which saw a property being damaged.

This begs the question; do we value property more than we value certain segments of the communities ‘lives?

Equally, why does the destruction of property get more outrage and media attention than the destruction of human life?

They are ‘destroying their own communities’ some have said. I don’t understand why people think rioters are burning down their own communities. One reporter asked a lady on the scene why she was destroying her community; she responded “Sir, what do you mean my community? We don’t own any of this!’. There’s a difference between a ‘black community’ and a community that black people reside in.

Some have said that the individuals who are partaking in such activities as portrayed on the news are ‘stupid’ ‘dumb’ and ‘proving the plethora of stereotypes attributed to blacks to be right’.

We must be mindful is that the media control the narrative; what they want us to see and hear they will show to us, what they don’t want us to see, we won’t. Therefore when events like this are plastered 24/7 on every mainstream TV station without acknowledgement of the etiology of the issue, one must seriously question the motive. Is it to put black people against each other; cast us in a negative light as ‘barbarian’ ‘animalistic’ and out of control? There are a plethora of subliminal messages being sent by these reports but no matter the amount of footage we must allow it to make us feel embarrassed or ashamed of our people.

The media discuss the riots on mainstream TV yet do not address the very root of the issue(s) causing the riots. The intent is questionable at best. I do not mourn broken windows. I mourn broken necks!

However , let me be clear, I do not condone violence nor do I encourage it. Quite the contrary, I am on record supporting peaceful means of resolution where effective; but we cannot ignore the fact that African American people all over are revolting. As such we as a society including the mainstream media must engage in dialogue to address the underlying issues which a cause to fix the problem

  • Kimani Gray, 16, New York, N.Y.—March 9, 2013
  • Deion Fludd, 17, New York, N.Y.—May 5, 2013
  • Yvette Smith, 47, Bastrop, Texas—February 16, 2014
  • Eric Garner, 43, New York, N.Y.—July 17, 2014
  • Jonathan Ferrell, 24, Bradfield Farms, N.C.—September 14, 2013
  • Freddie Gray, 25, Baltimore, MD- April 19th 2015

Those are just a few of the names of unarmed African American men and women who have been killed by U.S. police officers over the past few years. This is no longer a rarity, but rather a sad and sickening epidemic and people all over have had enough.

Some have enjoyed bringing up black on black crime when talking about the recent cop slayings. It’s understood that black on black crime is a problem. But when Eric kills Mike, Eric goes to jail for life. The issue is when officer Bob kills unarmed Eric, even with audio, video and 19 witnesses Officer Bob goes home on paid administrative leave - Author Unknown .

Until we are willing to really look at the violence African Americans have been subjugated to for centuries, these forms of resistance will always appear as nonsensical violence. We must be careful not to treat a response to violence as the origin of it altogether.

I end with a well-known quote from Mr. Fredrick Douglas. My hope is that we as a collective will read, understand, internalize and digest his word in hopes of fostering a dialogue with community leaders and stakeholders towards resolution to this ongoing and tragic milieu.

“ If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

- Eron Hill

testimonial-divider

20 Most Recent Opinion Columns

Opinion columns reflect the views of the writer, and not those of Bernews Ltd. To submit an Opinion Column/Letter to the Editor, please email info@bernews.com. Bernews welcomes submissions, and while there are no length restrictions, all columns must be signed by the writer’s real name.

-

Share via email

Read More About

Category: All

Comments (35)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Brenda says:

    Well said young man. Well said!

  2. Yaas I says:

    Nice piece! Its really sad what the police are doing and then the script is flipped on the oppressed

  3. John says:

    It’s funny how the oppressors are telling the oppressed what the appropriate response should be. I’m glad someone spoke up about it. Well said young Hill

  4. PeaceoverEverything says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Bravo!

  5. BlackLivesMatter says:

    “It’s understood that black on black crime is a problem. But when Eric kills Mike, Eric goes to jail for life. The issue is when officer Bob kills unarmed Eric, even with audio, video and 19 witnesses Officer Bob goes home on paid administrative leave.” Sooo truee!!

  6. DUH says:

    So sad that this is going on. Really is. Racism is real and alive.

  7. PeaceInBaltimore says:

    Facts!!

  8. Spoton says:

    The media discuss the riots on mainstream TV yet do not address the very root of the issue(s) causing the riots. The intent is questionable at best. I do not mourn broken windows. I mourn broken necks! #BlackLivesMatter

  9. Well Said!!! says:

    Honestly I must commend such a young man for tackling a topic which is beyond his years and experience. I couldn’t have said it better myself Mr. Hill. Many people my age struggle to address touchy subjects such as race and in my opinion you’ve managed it well. Kudos Sir. It’s truly sad what’s going on out there and I pray that it doesn’t start happening here at home

  10. Bang says:

    Trueee! The media definitely do control the narrative!

  11. Kimmy says:

    Right on time!!!

  12. Rightoooo says:

    These are very sensitive topic that a lot of people shy away from addressing publicly so I commend you for having the guts to do it young man! Press on

  13. Beanie says:

    Yes I dea roots! Babylon nah care for we. We must stand up for ourselves. Well said bra

  14. Outerbridge says:

    I love that Fredrick Douglas quote.

  15. Goodnight says:

    The vicious attacks by police officers needs to stop. Killing is wrong no matter who does it

  16. Chaa says:

    Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

  17. The Dark Knight Returns says:

    To commit crime will not help their cause at all.

    • Chaa says:

      Hey don maybe you didn’t read watcha boy said… So hur u go “.. let me be clear, I do not condone violence nor do I encourage it. Quite the contrary, I am on record supporting peaceful means of resolution where effective”

      • Micro says:

        “I am on record supporting peaceful means of resolution where effective”

        where effective, so is he saying if peaceful means aren’t effective to result to the acts taking place?

  18. Renegade says:

    Well spoken. It’s so true that the media portray what they want the masses to believe. I wish death on no one, I only wish that the death of young black men at the hands of police officers cease

  19. Kathy says:

    Bravo! We must not allow ourselves to be brainwashed by the mainstream media. It’ll have us condemning the innocent and praising the guilty as Malcolm X said

  20. ahem says:

    well done Mr.Hill, glad someone finally spoke out about it locally, …the silence was deafening, how much can a people take of being put through constant mistreatment on all levels without retaliation. The war in Libya has led to unwanted refugees, ….the same race, ..there is a dispute as to who should take them and it was said they will be met with a “chilly” reception ,..at best…..where they are going to be placed..

  21. Micro says:

    “One reporter asked a lady on the scene why she was destroying her community; she responded “Sir, what do you mean my community? We don’t own any of this!’. There’s a difference between a ‘black community’ and a community that black people reside in.”

    Herein lies the problem.

    We talk about racism from certain segments of the community and yet, here’s divisive commentary perpetuating the us vs them mentality.

    • mj says:

      stating the obvious is not perpetrating anything racist especially if you have been on the receiving end of racism.. its almost like people who are making us uncomfortable want us to shut up and take it because if we complain we make them feel guilty or uncomfortable.. You cannot keep hitting someone and expect them to turn the other cheek without saying ouch!

    • Next says:

      Its sad that you don’t get it and that people like you worry more about property than actual human lives.

  22. Vic says:

    Tact; the ability to tell someone to go to hell whilst making them look forward to the trip. Quite obviously that’s not what you’re saying here but this piece was tactful. Well written. The violence that has plagued African Americans for centuries doesn’t measure up to a couple broken windows.

  23. Yaaaa says:

    No word of lie Hill

  24. Mano says:

    Bless!!

  25. Triangle Drifter says:

    Must be nice having hours to pontificate in front of a keyboard over an incident that a cop has had fractions of a second to decide upon.

    That cop has a family to go home to at the end of the shift & he DOES want to go home.

    When a cop tells you to do something you do it. You don’t run. You don’t argue. You don’t do anything that could be threatening to the cop. Protesting can come later, in front of a judge.

    Happened to be in the Baltimore area when this occurred. The local news version is different from the National versions.

    Had this individual complied with instructions when & as given the outcome would be very different.

    • LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL says:

      You can’t be serious with what you posted???????

      Have you ever been put in that same situation?????? My guess is no. When that happens, first reaction is to run because over there the police could be attempting to frame or inflict harm on you just because. This is the norm for black people in America. Most are terrified of the police and as a result of that try to evade them at all costs.

      As you say, “Must be nice having hours to pontificate in front of a keyboard over an incident.” The same can be said about you my friend.

      It seems you don’t even try to understand whats going on over there. His brother in-law who was the witness has already spoken out against the actions of the police, but you like others who seem to lack an objective understanding quickly side with the police without even trying to listen to those who are there. Its almost as if you are implying that the public is full of liars and only the police tell the truth.

      “That cop has a family to go home to at the end of the shift & he DOES want to go home.” – This young man also had a family to go home to, yet you mention nothing of it, almost like that family doesn’t matter. You think that young black man did not want to go home too?

      I implore you to try and grasp a better understanding of whats going on rather than automatically placing blame on the young man who gave his life to overaggressive officers.

    • Next says:

      Must be nice to be an out of touch white man making excuses for the execution of black lives. Your ignorance disgusts me.

      You think every black man who was murdered by the police argued or resisted? “Don’t do this and don’t do that!” That’s easy for you to say when they don’t instantly assume your guilt based on your skin color, right? Tell me how you as a white man understand the dynamics of interacting with the police as a black man. I’d love to hear this because of course you assume it must be the same when it isn’t. Just being black is “treatening” to a cop and justification for lethal force.

      You witnessed this incident and know something we don’t? Maybe you should go tell the Baltimore police since you have it all figured out. You’re sickening as always.

  26. J Starling says:

    An insightful article.

    The loss of any life – be they a citizen or a police officer – is of course always regrettable. However, until the roots of inequality and continuing racism are confronted and dealt with, these periodic tragedies and subsequent outbursts are inevitable.

    And as you rightly point out, the media narrative is all too often tinged with a middle class and/or ‘white’ bias that both fundamentally misunderstands the context perpetrate the problems, both through failing to explore the roots and by encouraging reactionary rather than reflective solutions.

    Unfortunately, these outbursts, these uncoordinated riots, cannot resolve the problem either. It would be better for them to organise and coordinate actions beyond looting and confrontation and instead into outright insurrection – the seizure of the city by and for the people. With any luck this right to the city, this right to justice, might just spark the second American revolution that they need if they are ever to achieve the dream of Roosevelt’s economic bill of rights or MLK’s dream of a just and equal society.

    A better world is out there – but we must organise to win and build it. It won’t fall like manna from heaven, but will be built through action and determination.

    • hmm says:

      “beyond” looting?

      The “seizure” of the city?

      seriously dude – to condone violence akin to the American revolution is just Looney

      • J Starling says:

        The status quo is far more violent a prospect, not just to Americans but also to the world – their military-industrial complex being central to US imperial reality.

        A second American revolution need not be bloody – I would expect it to be largely based on non-violent principles, albeit with the right to self-defence. It will only be as violent as this dying and rotten system chooses to make it.

        • Richard T says:

          Any civil war would be bloody as unlike most of the western world normal citizens in America have access to military grade weapons. I am just glad our police don’t activly carry firearms and operate as a police should with a small elite unit of armed officers.

          The problem in the states is 2 fold. First the police in the past decade and a half have become militatrized and now there is really no difference between them and the army when a civil police force should be no where near an army. The second I would say is a loss of service to the community. It has been said that the main problem with police is you get in trouble for back talking to them. The police exist to protect and serve the community but have members in there ranks who are just bullies and want to exert power over others.