By Colin Flaherty
It seemed like a reasonable question: The AP reporter wanted to know if pundits and police over-reacted to the Trayvon verdict when they prepared for large-scale violence and chaos.
I was supposed to know because I wrote a best-selling book on mob violence.
MSNBC news analyst Toure said anyone who anticipated violence was a racist, blah, blah, blah. The other panelists mournfully nodded their heads in agreement as they always do when Toure makes one of his pronouncements on pervasive and permanent racism.
Which is pretty much all the time.
This week, AP and Time magazine reported the same thing: Not much violence. Over-reaction. Now they are wondering if all the preparations for post-Trayvon violence were racist.
This is not a hypothetical question. It is the exact question that city leaders in Indianapolis had to answer just a few days after the acquittal as they prepared for the annual Black Expo. For the last ten years, Black Expo has been the scene of violence, shootings, looting, rampaging and other mayhem after the Friday and Saturday night events released thousands of black people into the downtown.
A lot of it on video. So much so that the Indianapolis Star said “violence was an inescapable part” of the gathering. Mob violence has also beome a regular feature of life in downtown Indianapolis.
Last year, police were ready. This year too: They turned downtown into a police state complete with towers, high powered weapons, dogs, SWAT, tactical vehicles, infra red binoculars, and a helicopter. There was lots of stopping, frisking and dispersing.
After the Black Expo ended, city officials pronounced it a non-violent success. To many in attendance, it looked like racial profiling.
Miami Beach was faced with the same choice over the Memorial Day weekend as they prepared for the 300,000 visitors in town for Black Beach Week.
This event has a similar history, but bigger. Shootings. Lawlessness. Robberies. Assaults. Defiance. Property destruction. Vandalism. Drugs. And like Indianapolis, trash: Mountains and mountains of trash on the streets and beaches of this town that manages to stay pristine 51 weeks a year.
City officials competed to come up for the worst word to describe it: The Mayor said it was “hell.” Others said Fallujah.
Miami Beach used the same play book: Towers. Lights. Dogs. Guns. Cops. Cops. And more cops everywhere. Stopping. Frisking. Checking. Dispersing.
Maybe Toure was right. There was never any danger and all those folks in Indianapolis and Miami Beach are just racists, guilty of the worst kind of racial profiling. And the potential for black rage and violence was just the delusional ramblings of a few pundits.
That’s what the reporter for AP told me, anyway, when he was reporting his story.
Or maybe Toure and his posse have it wrong: The low level of violence was because cops were ready for it. They stopped what Toure and his ilk thought was so justified: Outrage and violence at an outrageous verdict.
So you make the call: Cops stopped riots. Or riot preparation is just another example of the over-policing that fills prisons with disproportionate amounts of black people.
Easy enough to settle. Call Indy. Call Miami Beach. Ask the Mayors if they plan on going cop-less next year.
Let me know.