Skip to content

A conduit for the cops: MLive only cites police experts in article about confrontation between anti-racists organizers and the Proud Boys

September 8, 2020

Three weeks ago, we post an article that provided some analysis on how the dominant news media reported on the Proud Boys coming to Kalamazoo. One of the main points we made in this analysis is that the dominant news media presented the Proud Boys and the anti-racist demonstrators simply as two opposing forces that the Kalamazoo Police had to deal with.

Another important take away from the confrontation between the Proud Boys and anti-racist demonstrators was that the police only arrested those in the anti-racist camp, thus leaving the Proud Boys free to spew their hate and White Supremacist values.

There have been several articles, particularly in MLive, since that action in Kalamazoo in mid-August. On Friday, MLive ran another story with a headline that read, Police need to keep opposing protest groups separated, experts say after Proud Boys rally

The problem with this most recent article by MLive is two-fold. First, the article relies exclusively on “experts” that have a history in law enforcement or are connected to research-based organization that are pro-police.

In addition to relying on Public Safety Chief Karianne Thomas, the MLive reported also cited someone from the National Police Foundation, the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, as well as citing a document from the 2015 Presidents Task Force on 21st Century Policing Recommendations. Therefore, the MLive reporter only utilized experts that are not only pro-police, but experts who have internalized the belief that policing in the US is essentially a force for good.

It is not surprising that a member of the dominant news media would consider using only experts that are pro-police, but it certainly does harm by not presenting experts who would provide a counter balance to these pro-police views. The MLive reporter could have contacted people like Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Alex Vitale, author of the book, The End of Policing, or historian Kristian Williams, who is author of the book, Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America.

The other main reason that this article is problematic, is that it makes it clear that MLive  sees the police as a neutral entity that ultimately keeps the peace in our society. It’s bad enough that the MLive reporter relies exclusively on pro-police “experts”, but they also reprint the suggestions from these experts as sound logic. Early on in the MLive article is reads, “Policing experts, contacted by MLive this week, said police can take several steps, while affording First Amendment rights, to discourage violence in these situations.” Then the MLive reporter includes these steps. Here are those “steps” that the police can use on the left, which were featured in the MLive article. On the right, in red, is a more honest assessment of what these steps mean.

Lastly, towards the end of the MLive article is says:

Back in 1998, the Ku Klux Klan held a rally in Kalamazoo. An 8-foot chain-link fence and a line of police officers in riot gear kept the Klan away from others who showed up. Former City Commissioner Zadie Jackson recalled it turned into a non-event because no one really reacted to the Klan’s presence.

This is not always the case when the KKK or other White Supremacists groups, like the Proud Boys come to town. Back in 2007, when White Supremacists came to Kalamazoo , they were outnumber by anti-racist activists three to one. As someone who was involved in that action, the police created “free speech spaces” for the White Supremacists, which consisted of 10 ft. high chain link fencing that was set up so as to create three separate zones. The White Supremacists were in one zone and the cops wanted us to enter one of the other zones, but we refused. This meant that the cops spent the entire time with their backs to the White Supremacists, thus facing those who were were there to confront the White Supremacists, as was reported on by the indy news source Media Mouse

What the dominant news sources fail to understand is that anti-racist groups, like antifa, will always confront White Supremacists when they come into communities, because their very presence does harm. Anti-racists groups confront White Supremacists to send them a message that they are never welcomed. This is what real community safety groups do, they try to stop hate from entering our communities.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: