Rep. Donna Edwards said mainstream media coverage of the armed takeover of a federal building in Oregon by a white militia reveals a racial double standard, the Washington Post reports.
Edwards, who is currently seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, said she is “deeply troubled by the media portrayal of the events in Oregon” which stands in stark contrast to the media portrayal of Black Lives Matter movement.
“[A]ctivists protesting the [death] of an unarmed 18-year-old on a city street or the tragic death of a 25-year-old in the back of a police van have been referred to variously as ‘thugs,’ ‘criminals,’ and ‘drug users,'” Edwards said in a statement. “To the contrary, most of these protests and protesters have been peaceful, and organizers have sought and obtained permission to peaceably assemble in exercise of their Constitutional rights. But in Oregon, a group of armed men illegally occupying a federal building have been referred to as an ‘armed militia,’ or simply ‘occupiers,’ as though that behavior is acceptable in a nation of laws. What is happening in Oregon is not protest sanctioned by the Constitution, it is lawbreaking.”
Edwards isn’t the only one to call foul on the media’s treatment of the militants, who are occupying the building to protest the prison sentences of two cattle ranchers convicted of arson. Social media users eviscerated euphemistic headlines and ledes, such as ABC News’ tweet that described the event as follows:
Peaceful protest followed by Oregon wildlife refuge action: https://t.co/1KVABOa2tY
— ABC News (@ABC) January 3, 2016
Two distinct sarcastic hashtags emerged, both of which compared the militants to terrorists: #YallQaeda and #VanillaISIS.
Upon request, Edwards spokesman Benjamin Gerdes provided the Washington Post with a list of examples of media bias against black activists. Included were the ubiquitous use of the word “thug” to describe protesters, Fox News commentators’ description of Black Lives Matter as a “hate group,” and CNN’s Don Lemon who, while covering a protest in Ferguson, Mo., qualified his observation that “there is the smell of marijuana in the air” with “obviously.”
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