One hundred and fifty armed, white ranchers took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge this weekend. Vox reported these men used online videos to call on "'patriots' from all over the country to come to the refuge with their guns to join their fight." Time dubbed them "armed protesters." Other outlets, including ABC News, called them "militia men."
I see now, more than ever, the second amendment comes with an asterisk. When 12-year-old Tamir Rice is gunned down by police within a few seconds of sighting him carrying a toy gun in a park, but 150 men with rifles and ISIS-like recruitment tactics seize federal property with no consequences, there is no denying justice is selective in America. When we're quick to label black and brown bodies as thugs and terrorists, but fail to call out this situation for what it is --domestic terrorism -- there is no denying justice is selective in America.
I am not asking law enforcement to utilize the same type of force on Tamir Rice against these 150 men. I am asking why force was used on Tamir Rice when it isn't even an option with 150 armed, white men. I am questioning why college protesters at UC Davis were pepper sprayed and Ferguson protesters are tear gassed while law enforcement announced "zero plans Sunday to do anything about the armed siege of a federal building."
Journalism, undoubtedly, influences public opinion. And in this instance, the media's portrayal of the siege is undeservingly sugarcoated.
David Shaw, a reporter for the LA Times wrote, "Just by reporting it, how they report it and how they play it--emphasizing one angle over another, using it at the top of Page 1 or as the lead story on the evening newscast -- the media can help shape or crystallize or accelerate public response to a story."
Twitter erupted with criticism of the news coverage -- turning social media into an alternative form of news digest.
This armed white militia 1) Seized federal property 2) Threatened violence 3) Posted "good-bye" vids wanting to "die free" Still not terror
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@MuslimIQ) January 3, 2016
We saw in 2015 how melanin equals misconduct in the eyes of the law. So, it's no wonder when I saw a bright-eyed black baby boy and his family squeeze into our elevator yesterday at a shopping center, it gave me a pit in my stomach. It gave me a pit in my stomach because the first thought that crossed my mind is whether or not he would grow up to wear a cap and gown or hold his own child.
Happy New Year -- perhaps 2016 will be the time when we can change this pitiful inequity.