On April 19, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died from spinal injuries sustained while in police custody earlier that week. It is still unknown why the police arrested him, and why he had to die.
Protestors in Baltimore have taken to the streets every night since his death. While mostly peaceful, a few incidents of rioting and looting were reported. The violence of the protestors has been highlighted in mainstream media and blown up on social media. While the attention of the U.S. should center on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, only showing instances of violence, as the mainstream media have done, does the movement no justice at all.
The media have been capitalizing on coverage of the riots, yet they fail to report on the underlying factors, like the disturbing history of police brutality in Baltimore, that fuel these protests.
My newsfeed this week has been filled with comments chastising the Baltimore protestors for “destroying their own neighborhood” and “terrorizing the city with violence.” It has become a trend for the media to report in this narrow way, which treats property as more important than black lives.
We must shift this mindset and tell a more nuanced story. If the media refuse to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, it is the responsibility of individuals to elevate black voices. We must seek out alternate sources that more honestly cover the events unfolding in Baltimore. We must read up on the blighted history of police violence committed against the black community. And we must strive to more fully understand the oppressive forces that led to these protests—the same forces fueling violence and looting.
It is time to actively reject the media’s shallow narrative and fight the oppressive forces at hand.
—Courtney Decker, Designer