This Reuters Article Is Vile

[Content Note: Racism; violence.]

This morning, Reuters published an "exclusive" headlined: "Missouri police plan for possible riots if Brown cop not charged."

And it is a rank piece of racist shit, published under the auspices of detailing the strategizing between local and federal authorities in the event that Officer Darren Wilson, who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, is not indicted by the grand jury.

Here are just a few of the problems with this article:

1. There is not even a passing indication of the inherent problem with authorities spending an enormous amount of time and energy on "riot prevention" and comparatively little to social justice. This is a constant feature of US coverage of this case (and all others like it): "Race" is only a subject worthy of exploration, or even mention, when it's about, say, black people protesting, but not when it's about white people ignoring structural inequities.

2. "In differing accounts, police have said Brown struggled with Wilson before the fatal shots were fired. But some witnesses say Brown held up his hands and was surrendering when he was shot multiple times in the head and chest." Some witnesses say? Are there any other witnesses, beside the officer who shot him, who say otherwise? That is some real tricksy wording there, Reuters.

3. "A memorial to Brown on the spot where he died, and where his body lay uncollected for four hours, still stands, a crucifix surrounded by teddy bears, photographs, flowers and handwritten notes decrying his loss and the alleged brutality of police." No mention of the memorial having been destroyed by a fire.

4. "Riots" and "protests" are conflated throughout the article. Also treated as equivalent? Black protesters and white people buying guns: "Ferguson today is a city on the edge. While mostly black residents hold small protests outside the police station each night, gun store owners report a jump in sales to white residents."

5. Later: "Adam Weinstein, co-owner of County Guns, said sales were up 50 percent since Brown's shooting, mostly among white residents fearful of riots who are buying Glock, Springfield and Smith & Wesson handguns, and shotguns. 'They are afraid the city is going to explode,' Weinstein said, a former member of the U.S. Navy and St. Louis firefighter with heavily tattooed arms." Welp. I mean, seriously, lots of people have "heavily tattooed arms"—so many that it's hardly worth mention. Unless, perhaps, you're relying on an old stereotype about racist white men with tattooed arms, in order to actually use your "news" story to foment racial discord.

6. And just look at the all-caps section headings on that article: "SIMMERING ANGER" and "BLACK PANTHERS." Seriously? I mean: SERIOUSLY?

7. "Police and elected officials are meeting regularly with multi-racial citizen groups in a bid to improve community relations, tackle concerns about police discrimination, and avoid the turmoil that followed Brown's shooting. Civil unrest is still the 'worst case scenario', Ferguson Mayor James Knowles] said." Uh, really? Worse than communicating to white police officers that they can kill unarmed black people without consequence, and worse than communicating to black people that their lives don't matter? You know, maybe civil unrest in response to that shit isn't actually the worst case scenario, Mayor Knowles.

Knowles is one of five people quoted in the article. All of them are men. The others are the tattooed Weinstein and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, who are white, and, finally, in the last paragraphs of the article, under the heading "BLACK PANTHERS," protest leader Tef Poe and "Mauricelm-Lei Millere, an advisor to the New Black Panthers," who is given no title, unlike the mayor and police chief, despite the fact that he is a psychotherapist and is publicly identified in all his public online spaces as Dr. Mauricelm-Lei Millere.

All of this, all of it, without a trace of irony that this kind of reporting is part of the exact reason that white racists expect the city to "explode." Reporting this irresponsible endangers black people's lives. I can't put it any more plainly than that.

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