The Silence of the “Leaders”
WPCNR NEWS & COMMENT. By John F. Bailey. May 31, 2020:
The silence in the violence.
The President did not address the nation.
The former President did not address the nation.
The presumed nominee for the Democratic Nomination for President did not speak. (This astounded me.)
Members of Congress did not address the nation. (This did not astound me.)
Governors did not speak last night. (Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York did speak out on the violence, Saturday morning and you can hear what he said on this site—but nobody listened)
Personalities who ran for President in the Democratic primaries did not speak
Mayors whose cities were being burned and looted by mobs and protesters spoke.
Police Commissioners pointing out the discipline it takes not to defend yourself when someone throws a brick at your head or a Molotov cocktail into your Police Van.
News Commentators who said America is in crisis. America is not in crisis. It is simply celebrating a tradition of wrecking neighborhoods and taunting and threatening and attempting to kill police in revenge for a killing of someone they never knew.
I was in Washington D.C. in 1968 when central Washington D.C. erupted into riots of destruction after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinagted.
The riots spread up to 16th Street and then progressed no farther. I was working at WMAL TV on Connecticut Avenue NW at the time and the fear of what we would do at the studios if they advanced up Connecticut Avenue was there.
We had one reporter on the scene in the midst of the rioting. His name was Bernie Johns, the station’s lone black newsman. He mainly covered traffic accidents. But when the riots erupted they assigned him to go into the violence. Bernie delivered. He was brave. He reported in somber tones what was being done. Looting. Burning out businesses. His voiceover commentary over the newsfilm brought home eloquently the futility of the fires. But I remember after the riot stopped, Bernie immediately went back covering traffic accidents. No Emmy for Bernie. He left the station shortly thereafter.
I always regret I never got to shake his hand and say how great he was those nights on those reports. It brought home to me the obstacle minorities face. You have to be better far better at what you do than anyone who is white doing it. And even then, you may not be recognized for your efforts
But, another thing I remember at that time, was black leaders speaking out to calm the black neighborhoods protesting the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assassination which ignited the riots.
The President spoke. I believe Ralph Abernathy spoke on the airwaves. Senator Ed Brooke spoke. John Lindsey the Mayor of New York City walked the streets at night trying to calm a sweltering New York City in Harlem. My point was that leaders spoke up tried to calm the populaces destroying the places they lived in. They reached out. They cared.
Last night in the three hours of coverage I saw, street reporters purported to know what was the attitudes of the crowds as if they knew and reporting what they thought was happening. They were very brave to be there, but you cannot report opinion as fact, in my opinion.
I was particularly struck by the reporter who said police gave no warnings in Minneapolis, ignoring the fact that people were told there was a curfew. The best coverage I saw was on Fox 5 in New York whose reporters just reported what they saw, not what they thought. The Channel 2 News at 11 wrapped up the sequences of the day factually.
But in three hours I saw no leader on television being interviewed who took on the responsibility of speaking reason and empathy with the situation to try and calm it down.
This was a tough spot. Politicians hate tough spots.
The persons most missing in reaction was Barack Obama and his wife. Who better than the first African-American President to talk sense to white and minority alike?
Mayor William De Blasio of New York City I felt should have taken control and spoken out. I would not go into that situation and walk the streets, but maybe I might. You never know. Previous clips of him were aired, but none in the moments of the Brooklyn rioting.
Governor Andrew Cuomo I think could have had an effect. I was surprised he did not come on from wherever he was. I was a little disappointed because the rioting in New York was in the very places the city has to lower the coronavirus infection rate to open by next Monday. I am sure the testing sites promised by the Governor opening in conjunction with churches promised in the Saturday morning talk are going to be delayed. And, need I say that the rioting of lawless fire-setters and looters in close proximity may spike the number of infections? l saw many were wearing masks; How ironic? If I were Governor Cuomo watching that I would be in tears.
The persons marching thinking they were helping last night made a classic mistake. They were not New York Tough, New York Smart or New York Loving. They were New York Weak. New York Dumb. New York Hating. And New York Selfish. They were New York Nasty.
For 90 days the police of New York protected them. Helped them get coronavirus victims to hospitals. Helped them. Got infected themselves. And protestors hurled bricks at them. Molotov Cocktails. Burned police cars. Scrawled obscenities on police cars. Injured officers.
It was a New York Disgrace.
Now, when the police ask me to do something, after I am uppity to them or attempt to strike them and they try to arrest me. I do not resist. That is what causes 4 officers to wrestle me to the ground as I saw. And when you attempt to kick an officer in the face. You think he might get mad? Just maybe. New York Dumb.
Where were Senators Gillebrand and Schumer. They send out lots of news releases. You think one of them might come on live and try and calm the situation. They had Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night and probably tonight too, the way things are going.
How about Nita Lowey, the candidates for her seat. What an opportunity to voice leadership. Where was Peter King from Staten Island.
And truly the one voice I heard was Cory Johnson the head of the New York City Council denouncing the police. That was really helpful. It was New York Dumb. New York Selfish. New York Partisan. Cory Johnson doing the politically correct thing. What would Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have said? Not what Cory Johnson said.
Go down to Brooklyn tonight Mr. Johnson and help calm the situation.
And where are State Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Shelly Mayer, and all the New York Delegation put your masks on, go down there and talk sense to the persons down there who are dissing 19 Million New Yorkers by sabotaging the New York Reopening with this protest which does not apply to the New York Police at all.
They could have stood up Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.
But maybe I’m wrong maybe Senators Gellibrand and Schumer were hold a joint press conference this morning.
You all have too.
You who would protest against authorities remember when mobs take over and the police do nothing your homes, your neighborhood businesses and you are in danger.
Mobbing is not a social feel good event, to make yourself feel relevant and righteous.
It is violence and an excuse for lawless behavior in service of something you never ever cared about anyway. You may think you do, but you don’t if you did what you did the last three days.
You have to walk the talk, not act in total opposite that as Governor Cuomo said yesterday defeats the purpose of your protest, and I quote:
“I figuratively stand with the protestors, but violence is not the answer. It never is the answer. As a matter of fact, it is counterproductive because the violence then obscures the righteousness of the message and the mission. And you lose the point by the violence in response. And it allows people who would choose to scapegoat to point violence rather than the action that created the reaction. The violence allows people to talk about the violence, as opposed to honestly addressing the situation that incited the violence. The violence doesn’t work. Martin Luther King, Dr. King, God rest his soul. He taught us this. He taught us this. He knew better than anyone who is speaking to us today on this issue. “Returning hate for hate, multiplies hate. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”