Peaceful Trayvon Protests Prove Talk of ‘Race Riots’ Wrong

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Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Protestors in support of Trayvon Martin march across the Brooklyn Bridge after attending a rally organized by the Reverand Al Sharpton in response to the non-guilty verdict for George Zimmerman on July 20, 2013 in New York City.

The mood in Phoenix on Monday was angry—but it was also peaceful. Dozens of people marched through the Arizona city’s downtown to protest George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. They chanted “Justice for Trayvon” and held signs that read: “If there will be no justice, let’s turn this mess into a message.” The march included a moment of silence, along with a prayer urging federal charges against Zimmerman.

The peaceful scene wasn’t the image of deadly race riots that many predicted would occur if Zimmerman walked free. Many political pundits and television hosts anticipated mass rioting and violence, a forecast that stands in stark contrast to the homegrown marches and vigils that have been organized in honor of the teen.

Rush Limbaugh warned that the media was “agitating for riots” in the event of an acquittal. Alex Jones’ conspiracist website Info Wars hyped an ex-Chicago police officer’s vision of “organized race rioting to begin in every major city…. If you live in a large city be prepared to evacuate or put up a fight to win.” Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan declared that acquittal “could ignite a reaction similar to that, 20 years ago, when the Simi Valley jury acquitted the LAPD cops in the Rodney King beating case.”

Thankfully, these dire predictions were way off the mark. Which is not to say that the Martin protests have been violence-free. Particularly in the emotional hours after the July 13 verdict, there were troubling reports of violence.

Oakland is a case study in how violence has been replaced by peaceful demonstration. On the night of Zimmerman’s acquittal, protesters there shut down streets and smashed windows. A waiter was hit in the head with a hammer while protecting his restaurant’s windows.

Eleven days later, however, little sign of violence remains. On Saturday, as thousands of Americans gathered in over 100 cities nationwide for vigils and marches, protestors took to Oakland’s Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building to rally peacefully, holding their signs in the air as police watched over the scene.

Later that night, a smaller crowd of about 50 people moved to Lake Merritt for a candlelight vigil. Supporters signed a banner reading, “It takes a community to heal a community,” and spoke out against the vandals who responded with violence downtown. One organizer, Jakada Imani, called for a sense of “deep abiding love” despite the pain of African-Americans convinced the verdict was unjust.

Even one man who paid a price for Oakland’s initial violent hours struck a conciliatory note. After Cortt Dunlap, the owner of Oakland’s Awaken Cafe, saw his storefront’s broken window, he taped up a sign that read: “This window will be fixed later today. When will the US Justice System?”

Despite his broken windows, Dunlap stands behind protestors and their fight against racial inequalities in the criminal justice system. While he doesn’t support violence, Dunlap does believe that these incidents are “solitary, individualistic acts” that do not represent the pro-Martin movement as a whole.

“It’s a very small minority of individuals who step outside the bounds of the protest and break a window or assault someone,” Dunlap says. “So I hope that the U.S. justice system will keep its eye on what’s at stake, and not on the actions of a few individuals.”

In Phoenix, where marchers made their way from the City Hall to the federal courthouse Monday, the message was similar. Michael Skolnik, a friend of the Martin Family, told The Daily Caller violence is no way to honor Martin’s memory.

“Trayvon Martin cannot rest in peace if there’s not peace in our streets,” Skolnik said.

8 comments
GVA_Laker
GVA_Laker

We humans have acquired a remarkable survival skill in our ability to categorize strangers based on their appearance. Stereotypes, however politically unpopular they may have become, are primal reactions to evaluating situations of danger. A hooded black male wandering in a gated community at night would raise as much suspicion a middle-aged white man waiting in a van across an elementary school’s play yard would. When the hooded black male turns out to be a violent thug, defensive reflexes are activated.

You want to change stereotypes? I encourage US Blacks to break free from this rampant victimology, separatism, and anti-intellectualism ideology. Go to school, be role models for your children, and be open to others. You would be surprised of how quickly stereotypes change.

roknsteve
roknsteve

It's been proved over and over again that there are no pure races.  Whenever someone claims this the historians show that there was an invasion, migration, mixing. etc.  Now watch some so-called educated person comment that I'm wrong. .

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

"The peaceful scene wasn’t the image of deadly race riots that many predicted would occur if Zimmerman walked free"

Will we get more updates of the Rushs of this world being full of it?

 As has been pointed out, like with the presidential election, these we not predictions these were hopes.

MrObvious
MrObvious

There are a lot of disappointing online and radio haters. But we sure get to see their bigotry on display and their attempts to project it on us.

gysgt213
gysgt213

"The mood in Phoenix on Monday was angry."

"The mood in Phoenix was one of frustration."  Do reporters ever consider the words they use?



bobcn
bobcn

Anyone pointing to the violence that occurred in Oakland as an example of 'race rioting' merely displays an ignorance of the nature of demonstrations in the Bay Area. There is a small contingent of anarchists and thugs who show up at EVERY march or demonstration.  They are always looking for an excuse to cause disruptions and/or property damage and violence.  It doesn't matter to them whether its the murder of Trayvon Martin or the SF Giants winning the World Series.

These were the people who caused trouble in Oakland at the Occupy protests.  The actual Occupy protesters actively resisted the behavior and damage these thugs were causing.

During the anti Iraq war marches (> 70,000 in San Francisco)  the local news stations would seek out the anarchists and then follow them around with camera crews because they could usually be relied upon to produce video of vandalism and window breaking.  The news crews could recognize who to follow because over the years it  has typically been the same people who cause most of the trouble.

bobcn
bobcn

@bobcn

"...local news stations would seek out the anarchists and then follow them around with camera crews because they could usually be relied upon to produce video of vandalism and window breaking."

BTW -- I've seen this behavior of the news crews with my own eyes.  During one peace march, before the Iraq war started, a small group of about 15 anarchists broke off from the tens of thousands of marchers marching up Market Street towards the Civic Center.  The anarchists walked up a side street and were followed by several news crews with cameras.  The anarchists stood around for about 30 minutes discussing what to do.  Meanwhile, the news crews stood around about 20 feet away, looking bored.  The news crews ignored the thousands of peaceful marchers streaming  by behind them and continued to shadow the small group of anarchists.

Unfortunately for the news crews the anarchists didn't break anything that day, so the news crews eventually had to leave without getting the 'radical leftists doing vandalism' video they had been waiting for.   The news that night had to settle for complaining that 70,000 people had interfered with traffic.

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

@bobcn The people predicting riots were hoping for them, and hoping to stir them up as self-fulfilling prophecy. The Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys of the world benefit from race-baiting, as the Republican party as a whole has benefited since "the Southern strategy" was launched. Naturally, the Limbaughs and Hannitys try to defuse charges of race-baiting by assigning that quality to their opponents before they even say anything. (I call this "the Karl Rove" strategy. Or, in psychological terms, projection.)

I try not to think about people who make millions being despicable. I am concerned about their audience. How could any American get behind the idea that, for a large percentage of our population, the system is the enemy? That they are *afraid* of the police? That, if male, they have a 1 in 3 chance of ending up in jail or prison, often for minor or non-existent offenses? That black communities are being depopulated of young men, who have few paths to success? As an American, that infuriates me. And I'm not in the least bit affected by this, being old, white and middle class. But I want my country to be better than that.