Militarization of Police

Stuff White People Riot About

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When the St. Louis-area police brought out all its military equipment and camouflage to bear against its own citizens protesting the shooting of Michael Brown this summer, they finally drew some national attention to the serious problem of overmilitarized local law enforcement agencies. On Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the titular host mocked the town of Keene, New Hampshire, for requesting a BearCat military vehicle. They defended the addition because town's annual pumpkin festival could be a target for terrorist attacks. How silly!

This weekend, Keene's annual pumpkin festival was ruined by violence. Whoops! Okay, they weren't terrorists, though; they were rioting drunken college students, and arguably police militarization still isn't a needed response. Still, it's amusing to note, though perhaps not if you're a resident of Keene. There have been dozens of arrests and, yes, police came out in force to use tools like pepper spray to disperse the crowds. There have been extensive reports of property damage. People were struck and injured by thrown rocks and bottles. There may be more arrests coming.

Keene, New Hampshire, is a pretty white city, so now folks are comparing the way the riots there have been described compared to the mostly peaceful (but not always) protests in Ferguson. Photo memes have become the weapon of choice, comparing words used for each protest:

My one criticism of the above comparison is that while it's true these words were thrown around to describe both incidents (or series of incidents, I guess) they didn't all come from the same media mouths. CNN may have called the Keene kids "rowdy," but did they call the protesters in Ferguson "thugs"? Looking at the media as one great big "them" is an impediment to actually trying to hold any particular media outlet to account for careless use of language. Also, it can illustrate more of an obsession with optics or semantics over the real issues involved. I don't think anybody is suggesting what happened in Keene was anything other than flat-out riots and violence.

There's also some, "Black people riot like this. White people riot like this," discussion that's worth taking a look at. In Ferguson, people were rioting over perceived abuse of police power that left a young man dead. In Keene, people were rioting over. … well, nobody's really sure, actually. Luke O'Neill and Jordan LeBeau at boston.com have a couple of pieces analyzing the way we look at black people rioting versus the way we look at white people rioting and the reasons behind them that are worth a read. The one thing I find worrisome is the idea that O'Neil suggests that it's not that police are too hard on black rioters, but rather they're not hard enough on white rioters. While there are a number of incidents of drunken white dudes causing all sorts of damage in response to sports or … mostly sports, I guess … these riots still don't happen in the frequency where we need to be suggesting that the problem is that police aren't aggressive enough.

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  1. I didn’t know a pumpkin festival could be so awesome. Totally going there next year.

    1. Birdemic III?

    2. At least they didn’t blame the Free Staters this time. Although I read that the crowd was taunting police to “bring out the BearCat!”

      1. At least they didn’t blame the Free Staters this time.

        I haven’t heard anyone trying to pin the riot on Free Staters (aside from some NH natives who are Free Stater haters trolling online), but there was this pretty amusing incident between a local independent reporter and the Pumpkin Festival organizer. She didn’t like that, even though he had spent over 8 hours reporting the festival on the local public access channel, he took a minute to report on the violence erupting a few blocks away. In a total non sequitur she accused him of being a Free Stater and tried to snatch his microphone and shut him down, as though he represented some kind of imminent threat to her little temporary dictatorship. Her desperation is hilarious.
        http://freekeene.com/2014/10/1…..l-newsman/

  2. Was Shackford trying to make a point? If so, it must be that some people complained, and other people complained about something different, and white people privilege. Yeah, I think that’s it.

    1. He left out the Vancouver hockey riots.

      Which is worse — being called a hooligan, or a thug? And since when was thug a racial term? Plenty of Italian gangster enforcers are called thugs. Oops…

  3. There’s also some, “Black people riot like this. White people riot like this,” discussion that’s worth taking a look at. In Ferguson, people were rioting over perceived abuse of police power that left a young man dead. In Keene, people were rioting over. ? well, nobody’s really sure, actually.

    So what you’re saying is, black people gotta lot of problems, but they don’t mind throwing a brick, whereas white people go to school, where they teach you how to be thick?

    1. partial credit for effort at obscure Jethro Tull reference.

      1. …but you get a failing grade for missing the obvious Clash reference.

        1. musical interludes for $800, Alex.

          1. What is… we’re not gonna take it?

  4. In other news, Keene officials have decided to ban cannabis-infused pumpkin pies.

  5. Those photos memes are pretty dubious. Get some photos of stores being looted in Ferguson and some white guys not doing anything in Keene and viola! Proof of black thuggishness!

    Also as far as I can tell the law and order types are not fond of drunken white rioters much either.

    1. Um, what about the 60s? Lots of white folks getting the Man upset then, right? And Kent State, those were white kids, weren’t they?

      In any event, I find these kinds of arguments totally pointless, as the government will oppress whomever and whatever it feels like oppressing.

      1. Um, what about the 60s? Lots of white folks getting the Man upset then, right? And Kent State, those were white kids, weren’t they?

        Yeah, the folks who hated the hippies and anti-war protesters wanted to be easy on them because they were white.

        1. I mean, come on, Americans all hate hippies.

          1. All good Americans anyways.

            1. No, hippies are self-hating, too. As they should be.

      2. In any event, I find these kinds of arguments totally pointless, as the government will oppress whomever and whatever it feels like oppressing.

        I think the one good thing that’s come out of this over the last 40 or 50 years is the government is better at oppressing everyone equally.

        Progress!

  6. This is especially salient because if I recall correctly Ferguson was the first times blacks had riot in the United States correct? Please correct if I’m wrong. I know that blacks have rioted in Africa before but I can’t think of any other incident of black rioting in the USA.

    1. This is especially salient because if I recall correctly Ferguson was the first times blacks had riot in the United States correct?

      What are you, 12 years old?

      1. I think he is being sarcastic?

      2. No, I think he’s just retarded.

        1. I don’t agree with you Episiarch but I don’t make it persoanl. Well except for the stuff about you being a sexual frustrated virgin. Turnabout is fair play.

          1. Will you do me the honor of popping my cherry? I’ve always wanted my first time to be with a mongoloid.

            1. He’s only in ESL Level 3, you expect him to understand your idiom?

              1. As a fellow virgin Episarch’s sexual frustration is second nature for you. Or to put it in terms you’d understand. Sex for your guys is in the subjunctive case. You guys dream of one day getting laid.

                1. Really Sam? I’ll give you the P.B./Playa (I think it was) bet, you post a picture of your wife/girlfriend and I’ll post a picture of my wife and let the commentariat decide.

                  You up for that, big guy?

            2. Nope hire a porn star that’s the Reason way.

              1. Jerry, if you think that by threatening me you can get me to be your slave… Well, that’s where you’re right. But – and I am only saying this because I care – there are a lot of decaffeinated brands on the market today that are just as tasty as the real thing.

                1. I’m attracted to black women as well, ProL.

                  Or. . .was that not what you meant?

              2. What if I paid you instead? What’s the current prevailing retard rate? I’m willing to wait until you’re done watching Judge Wapner if that’ll keep the cost down. But I’m not taking you to K-Mart. That’s where I draw the line.

                1. Say, how is it that you can hire porn stars? Were you some sort of porn star agent? I’ve never heard of anyone hiring them before, other than, you know, for film productions.

                2. Kmart sucks.

                  1. I’m totally lost now. So you’re telling me that Kmart sells porn stars now?

                    1. Well, then. I see they’ve continued the blue-light specials.

                    2. Ewwwww. Feet are gross.

    2. Please correct if I’m wrong.

      Ok. In English, the past perfect tense is composed of “had” as an auxiliary verb and the past participle form of the main verb. Likewise, when speaking of “the first” of something, it would make logical sense to put the noun in the singular form. So, a native English speaker would write something like “Ferguson was the first time Blacks had rioted in the United States, correct?”

      I encourage you to continue your study of English grammar with the Azar Grammar series of textbooks, which are suitable for self-study.

      Good luck!

      1. Admit it even you are kind of groaning at the lameness of your post.

        1. I try to help you, and this is how you repay me?

          1. no I appreciate the help. Out of gratitude I’m trying to help you be less lame.

  7. Rioting because you are drunk and bedlam is fun seems to me more rational than rioting because you think a police officer should face federal civil rights prosecution.

    And like Winston said people who don’t like blacks rioting in cities also don’t like college kids rioting on their campus. The same Silent Majority that was appalled at Watts had little affinity for the college anti-war movement either. Even after Kent State that suspicion remained.

    1. you are drunk and bedlam

      Seriously, what country do you hail from?

      1. I commute between the U.S. and a giant condominium inside your head apparently. I know libertarianism is a spent force but the grammar schoolmarm act that’s more Victorian than saving your virginity for marriage. Fight the ideas expressed or just be quiet. Grammar critiques are for people who can’t rebut arguments.

        1. it’s not your grammar that is suspect, it is your entire thought process. If all it was was a misspelled word or two, no big deal. But this is like typing something in a foreign language, running it through babblefish or some such, and copying/pasting what you think is English.

        2. Did you not write “Please correct if I’m wrong.”?

          So I did. I don’t know why you’re getting so pissy about it.

        3. well said Sam! arguing grammar is not a counter argument to someone’s ideas.

      2. You could not understand that sentence?

        Rioting because you are a) drunk and b) bedlam is fun.

        English isn’t that difficult to understand.

        1. The structural ambiguity of English less difficult to understand thanks to the typographic convention known as the “comma”. Perhaps you and Sam have heard of it?

          1. Thank you for providing that link, HM. I was bored tonight and that lecture series is very interesting.

    2. Rioting because you are drunk and bedlam is fun seems to me more rational than rioting because you think a police officer should face federal civil rights prosecution.

      No that’s just you being stupid.

      1. Yeah, I got what he was saying pretty easily, even though I thought his argument was weak.

        So Sam thinks that rioting because it’s “fun” is more rational than rioting to draw attention to police abuse?

        You could certainly argue about the effectiveness of rioting in the second instance, but to say that doing so for kicks is a better motivation is just stupid.

        1. To be fair, there are people of both persuasions in any given riot.

          There’s the beleivers and the looters. They’re both there, as we saw in Ferguson.

          1. A riot without looters and mayhem for the hell of it, is just a protest.

            Mayhem and looting for the kicks is evil.

            Burning down your neighborhood because of police abuse is idiotic.

  8. Scott, it doesn’t look to me like the pictures and captions you show were created by media, but by some Twit, twitting. The stupid hands up meme with “animals” printed across the bottom is pathetic trolling. I bet Stormfront doesn’t even have such pictures, well, maybe them.

    1. “Scott, it doesn’t look to me like the pictures and captions you show were created by media, but by some Twit, twitting.”

      That’s the point. The memes are supposed to be satire of the media’s coverage, the images and captions themselves are not being presented as actual media creations. And for the record, I largely agree with Scott’s take.

      1. The memes are supposed to be satire of the media’s coverage

        Is there a single rioter in Keene who has been portrayed in a positive fashion in the press? How about Ferguson rioters being portrayed as “protesters”? You can’t compare the two because of the legitimate issue of police brutality? Yeah.

        So as I said, sure, it is a hilarious parody of Stormfront, but not much else.

        1. I wasn’t defending the images, I was merely pointing out that no one was trying to claim that the images and captions came from the media.

          1. FTA: it’s true these words were thrown around to describe both incidents (or series of incidents, I guess) they didn’t all come from the same media mouths.

            1. Scott’s not saying that because he thinks the media made those images. The captions are supposed to refer to words that the media has used to describe the Ferguson protestors, and contrasting them with words used to describe the New Hampshire rioters. The people making the images are doing so to satirically mock the media for its bias (again, I think Scott’s point that these aren’t necessarily the same people describing these events is very relevant). From the sentence itself, Scott is only referring to the words themselves, not the images or the images with captions.

  9. What happened in Keene was the predictable result of landlords banning parties at the request of city officials. So the drunken revelers massed outside in one big group while in previous years there were many smaller, indoor gatherings spread about. So as usual prohibition and government meddling took a “maybe not ideal” situation and made it ten times worse.

    1. So, they WERE protesters!

  10. Some people are hard to please.

  11. Before reading the article I assumed this was going to be about what happened at West Virginia after they beat Baylor.

  12. Looking at the media as one great big “them” is an impediment in actually trying to any particular media outlet to account for careless use of language.

    I think this sentence has an issue.

  13. Did the Pumpkin Festival rioters loot stores? Did they burn down buildings in Keene?

      1. Wait. This is New Hampshire? Home and destination of the Free State movement?

        Clearly, this is what happens when libertarians concentrate in one area.

      2. I didn’t see anything in the story about looting or burning buildings. Looks like one car destroyed.

        “WMUR-TV in Manchester showed footage of a crowd toppling over a car, people running from tear gas clouds, street signs being torn down and fires burning in the streets.”

        I think the similarity could be pointed out that many of Ferguson’s protesters were not residents (assuming the reporting was correct) as most of these kids are not really residents of Keene.

        1. It was a bit more than one car.

          I think the similarity could be pointed out that many of Ferguson’s protesters were not residents (assuming the reporting was correct) as most of these kids are not really residents of Keene.

          That’s a fair point.

      3. Oh right, send the black man out to cover the dangerous riot…

  14. But the Starbucks was out of Lattes!

    OUT OF MOTHERFUCKIN LATTES!!!!!

  15. Yeah, I’ve heard plenty a white riot described as “animals”.

    Not saying there isn’t an element of truth to the joke but it’s a bit of a simplification.

  16. However, I’d give black people rioting because they’re oppressed.

    White people riot when their hockey team loses.

    1. “White people riot when their hockey team loses.”

      Yeah, but they go ape shit when you

  17. I think this sentence has an issue.

    “Careless use of language,” indeed.

  18. Did the looters and militants light a gas station on fire in Keene?

    1. I just had this vision of a new reality show, America’s Top Rioters.

    2. I’m sure there were mass rsape following the riot. It is a college after all.

  19. Childish moral equivocation. Something I’d thought was beyond a website called “Reason”. Did you guys get purchased by Gawker or something?

    I’d like to see a comparison of the following between riots you’d classify as being caused by one racial/ethnic group versus others.

    How much property has been destroyed? How many dollars worth of damage? How many stores looted? How many lives lost?

    Start with Katrina, Ferguson, the ’92 LA riots…then work backwards to Watts, Boston, DC, Detroit in the 60s. Go ahead, we’ll all wait here for the next hilarious punchline/meme pic.

    1. beyond a website called “Reason”

      You’d better already be drinking after that one, goddamnit.

    2. Did you read the same article I did?

    3. How many white people have been lynched by black mobs in US history?

  20. Whatever.

    *throws molotov cocktail at Starbucks*

  21. First of all, we have absolutely no idea what provoked the problems in Keane, and are likely to never be given a true picture of what took place.

    I think the most likely scenario, based on a disturbance in Amherst, MA, earlier this year, is that the cops decided to randomly pick some schmo to suddenly be the poster child for open container enforcement, and his friends didn’t like it, so they milled about shouting and complaining. Since cops must enforce their will on all public gatherings no matter what the cost, this turned into a cycle of escalating police responses / crowd rage. And once the crowd passed the tipping point, all bets were off.

    Do I have any inside information? Nope. Was I there? I drove through Keane on 9 about an hour before the riot, but I didn’t see a damn thing. I just know how New England police and the New England media feel about college kids, so I am making a whole lot of probably-totally-fair assumptions.

    AFAIAC, throwing bottles at the cops because they’re arresting your friend for breaking some BS blue law is just as legitimate as looting a convenience store in Ferguson. And I’m not intending to disparage the Ferguson protestors by saying that – I’m trying to get people to not reflexively accept the police narrative in Keane, the way Shackford does.

    1. “the way Shackford does”

      The hell?

      1. I’m sorry, I thought the overwhelming tone of your piece was buying into the idea that the people in Ferguson had something real to be angry about but that the kids in Keane were just dicks.

        1. but that the kids in Keane were just dicks.

          The hell?

          1. LOL.

            YOU! Yes, YOU!

            You are a DICK.

        2. were just dicks

          At least one was, though to be fair he’s from out of town:

          “It’s (expletive) wicked,” said Steven French, an 18-year-old who was said he was visiting from Haverhill, Mass.

          “It’s just like a rush. You’re revolting from the cops,” he said, sometime after 9 p.m. “It’s a blast to do things that you’re not supposed to do.”

          1. Which the Ban Everything crowd never seems to understand.

  22. Oh, for crying out loud, by all means find the specific individuals who think it’s OK to riot in Keene but not in Ferguson, then cross-examine and mock them to your heart’s content.

    Meanwhile, don’t throw this out there as if white people are an ominous “them” who approve rioting by “their own,” while deploring black rioters just because they’re black.

  23. It’s been about 200 years since my family was in New Hampshire – you want to blame me for the actions of some people in Keene, I invite you to perform an anatomically-implausible act.

    1. you want to blame me for the actions of some people in Keene

      I dunno. Are you a Masshole?

      1. In their peregrination, AFAIK, my ancestors missed Massachusetts.

        1. But I had collateral relatives in the glorious Bay State.

    2. My parents are from Keene, but I don’t think my 89-year-old grandmother who lives there was doing much rioting.

  24. Oh, and do you think the media’s excessive coverage of Ferguson’s disturbances is due to an attempt to bash black people? The protesters want media coverage – though most of them I suppose don’t support the violence.

  25. I don’t think a riot driven by an agenda is the same thing as a drunken revelry run amok. No one loses sleep over the crowd stomping their community after a local team wins a championship, because it’s a one time thing.

    Reason stopped covering this incident (their coverage of the Zimmerman case was nearly nonstop and nothing short of brilliant), but most of us here have read about newer developments. Like the black protesters strutting into white neighborhoods in a threatening manner, inviting radical pro-palestine groups, and making not even veiled attempts at violence if the officer isn’t sent to the gallows.

    And all of that despite reports that Brown never had his hands up in the air. A few witnesses have claimed this weeks ago.

    I don’t recall a SINGLE riot in the OC after Ramos was found not guilty of killing Kelly Thomas. A blind man should have seen he was guilty. But the mostly white and Latino protesters did not cause trouble, and did not base their grievance on racial fear mongering.

    1. “leaked reports”

      1. Reports by who, the cops?

        I don’t recall a SINGLE riot in the OC after Ramos was found not guilty of killing Kelly Thomas. A blind man should have seen he was guilty.

        So what you’re saying is that white people stand idly by when one of their own is murdered by police. Is that a good thing?

  26. How many businesses were looted? In Ferguson, it was dozens. How many were burned to the ground? In Ferguson, you have the Quiktrip and various later attempts

  27. I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, ‘They’re looting.’ You see a white family, it says, ‘They’re looking for food.’

    I guess Barack Obama doesn’t care about black people either.

    1. I think we all know Barack Obama doesn’t care about anybody but himself.

  28. Scott – I invite you to execute a modicum of investigative journalism before throwing out the term “riot”; I live in a college town (Ames, IA), where “alleged riots took place during VEISHEA. Lazy police and city officials are quick to clamp-down on a few drunk students. So, in-reality, the so-called “white” riots are immediately quashed rather than tolerated and excused.

    1. I guess all those cars just happened to already be flipped over when the “few drunk students” passed by and decided to stand on them.

      1. It only takes a few – they have extensive cow-tipping experience!

  29. Wow, that is some terrible race-baiting. The rhetorical equivalent of tipping your king over.

    I accept. 1-0.

  30. on her part: an attempt at standard damage control with terrible execution, ultimately inducing a Streisand effect.

    on his part: kind of a douchebag, ok huge douchebag, no idea how to handle himself.

    but when you consider the small-townie setting, not surprising. he did his job if only to egg her on; it made for some cringing comedy.

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