NEW YORK (AP) — The nation’s unrest has made for an unprecedented nightly action show on television, with control rooms that switch quickly between cars ablaze, police officers advancing on demonstrators and ransacked stores in cities across the country.
What’s easy to get lost are peaceful protesters concerned about police treatment of minorities — the raw wound reopened by George Floyd’s death.
Floyd’s brother, Terrence, publicly asked Monday for those people outraged by how George died last week after a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee to his brother’s neck to make their feelings known peacefully.
That’s daytime television, however.
When darkness falls and prime-time television begins, earnest activism is replaced by tense scenes of conflict unique in their breadth. Scenes of urban unrest have been visible before in the nation’s history — the 1968 riots were more frightening and deadly — but not in so many cities at the same time, with so many cameras to observe.
Civil rights activist Al Sharpton said Monday that he’s worried about a backlash caused by the attention paid to violent demonstrations.
“If you only display that, in this whole ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ media obsession, than in many ways you are hurting George Floyd all over again,” said Sharpton, an MSNBC host. “Because he becomes a side story to the tragedy of what happened and to the pursuit of justice.”
What’s happening in the cities need to be covered, but not at the expense of losing Floyd, he said.
What appeared live on CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC the last few nights was gripping and absorbing. In Washington, people stood holding cell phone cameras above their heads Sunday night, capturing flames shooting in the air, the way they would at a concert in more peaceful times.