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White Men Can’t Riot

Clash lyrics notwithstanding, I note that Schwarzenegger urges calm following shooting trial.

“A Los Angeles jury convicted former Bay Area Rapid Transit officer Johannes Mehserle, who is white, of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who is black.”

Silly governor, riots are for blacks.

Racist? Point me to the last white riot. Not counting left-wing, hippie communists. Ok, never mind. I stand corrected.

On second thought, I think Schwarzenegger was worried about the blacks celebrating:

Oakland police say a crowd of people forced their way into a Foot Locker store on Thursday night and began taking items.”

Yeah, I know. Some Harvard professor has undoubtedly vomited up some diatribe about how Nike theft is the modern-day equivalent of sitting in the front of the bus.

But what I want to know is: what do five-year-old Chinese sweatshop workers have to do with it? Can’t these kids drink their melamine-laced milk in peace without some Raiders fan fucking with their employer’s profit margins?

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1 Mike Tully { 07.16.10 at 3:18 pm }

I’m guessing that Schwarzenegger was hoping for a hung-jury, which would have elicited a milquetoast window soaping and, worst case, a drive-by dropping of a burning bag of dog shit at said Footlocker.

2 Katrina { 07.16.10 at 4:38 pm }

I’m confused about this post and the comment. The rioting was because the sentence was not considered harsh enough by a lot of (black) people in Oakland. They were calling the shooting an execution and wanted a murder conviction. A hung jury would have basically meant the cop walked free, and the riots would have been far worse in that case.

I live and work in SF and was in Oakland that night. The tension was insane. Everyone literally fled Oakland in fear. My office building advised anyone taking BART to leave immediately and gave us instructions in case they would have to lock down the building if riots spread to SF. My friend had to cancel his dress rehearsal because his orchestra wouldn’t risk traveling through or around Oakland. Cops were all over the place in the East Bay.

In the end, it doesn’t seem like the riots were a big deal. It was no Rodney King, anyway. I could be wrong about this, but my gut reaction to the panic is that it’s kind of pathetic. We basically showed how easy it is to frighten most Americans. Doesn’t that encourage the thugs?

It reminds me of a time on Muni (SF’s light rail) when some young white guy in a collared shirt asked a punked-out black kid to turn his boombox down (it was painfully loud.) He prefixed his request with “Hey, bro,” and that just made me cringe: no way was it going to end well. Within moments, every black person on the two car train had come over to take the black kid’s side. There was a white girl seated in the middle of this, and she literally got up and ran as far away as she could. Everyone else basically made a huge show of ignoring the conflict. Collared Shirt Guy quickly backed down (he really had no choice at this point), and when he was gone, the others congratulated each other for “sticking up for a brother.”

While the word choice was poor, there was absolutely nothing inappropriate or offensive in the request to turn the music down. It was certainly annoying everyone on the train, probably even the ones who ultimately defended the boombox kid. The speakers were worn out to the point that the sound could hardly be identified. Thus I can’t imagine any basis other than race by which sides were chosen. Blacks group together and non-blacks run away. This is what happened in the Bay Area last Thursday, only on a much larger scale.

3 Mike Tully { 07.16.10 at 4:50 pm }

I meant by the whites and not the blacks; another attempt at humor shot to shit. Thanks for the transit story though.

4 Katrina { 07.16.10 at 4:59 pm }

Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for clarifying. I’m probably less able to see the humor having been actually affected by the events, but I will make every effort to laugh at race riots in the future.*

*I would put a smiley here to indicate lighthearted humor, but I can’t bring myself to type emoticons.

5 Jason Roth { 07.19.10 at 2:27 pm }

Katrina, was there still confusion about my post, or was that it?

That’s a hell of a story, and completely believable. The collared-shirt guy could have been me, had the story taken place in NYC and had I decided to open my mouth on one of several occasions. But if you’re going to open your mouth, you have to be prepared for a fight. Anybody who has his boom box that loud to begin with is beyond reason, at least when you add in the visual clues you mentioned. And maybe collared-shirt guy was ready for it, naively assuming it was just a dispute between him and one other person.

I wonder if I would have gotten my ass kicked. If I had been nearby, I probably would have said to the group, “All he asked the kid to do was turn down his boom box.” I definitely would left off the “bro”.

6 Mike { 07.19.10 at 2:45 pm }

I take full responsibility for any [post article] confusion.

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