Dear Media: When Is a Riot a Riot?

Merriam-Webster defines a riot as, “a violent public disorder; specifically: a tumultuous disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons assembled together and acting with a common intent.”

But if you’re the Los Angeles Times writing about the riot in its fair city, it was just a bunch of “unruly protesters”:

Shoppers at a Wal-Mart on Crenshaw Boulevard described a scene of chaos and mayhem Monday night as unruly protesters stormed the store, tossing merchandise and trying to loot jewelry cases.

Police estimated about 150 people took part in the violence Monday night after a peaceful vigil at Leimert Park. They were protesting the acquittal Saturday of George Zimmerman, 29, in Florida on second-degree murder and manslaughter in last year’s shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The group of roving protesters marched down Crenshaw Boulevard. Police said they tossed rocks, broke windows and set fire in some trash cans before LAPD declared an unlawful assembly and arrested 14 people.

When they arrived at a Wal-Mart in Crenshaw Plaza, some made their way into a store before security guards were able to close the gates. A short time later, Los Angeles Police Department officers wearing helmets and carrying batons swarmed the store as others marched through the parking lot.

Lali Castillo, 21, of Glendale said she saw people storm inside the store and begin throwing merchandise–mostly clothing–onto the ground. Some tried to break open the glass jewelry displays on the first floor, she said.

She and her family quickly got in their car and left. 

Tanya Williams, 55, of Inglewood, and her daughter Erica Williams, 28, were shopping on the second floor when they heard people run into the store, screaming. They also saw protesters try to break the glass jewelry cabinets.

For the record, Merriam-Webster defines unruly as, “not readily ruled, disciplined, or managed .”

Call me crazy, but I think maybe the Los Angeles Times needs to consult a dictionary.


Most Popular


Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More