When Kentucky Fans Rioted, When Trayvon Protesters Didn’t & Michael Brown

Updated: August 21, 2014


Michael Brown is dead, and reexamining the 2012 Kentucky Fans Riots amidst the Trayvon Martin protests is instructive. In “Right to Riot“, I wrote at the time:

“This week brought us another sports fueled violent white riot after Kentucky won the NCAA Basketball Championship. The riot, which many had predicted would happen, came just 60 fires and two days after the first one where Kentucky fans burned cars to celebrate its win over Louisville.

The Final Four riots came just months after Penn State fans took to the streets,  crashed down lamposts and flipped over trucks after football coach Joe Paterno was fired for not using his power to prevent the rape of young children.

The Penn State Riots came a year after the Vancouver Canuck Riots which came a year after San Francisco Giants fans cheered their World Series win by looting, setting fires, and attacking cars — or as The San Francisco Chronicle put it — “joyful mayhem“.

And when the games are over, there are the other crowds reacting to real life problems such as the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the larger criminal justice system his death symbolizes. Led by, but not limited to a divisive conservative media, many have wondered: “Is The Media Inciting Violence?” and “Is Spike Lee’s Tweet the Same kind of Violence That Killed Emmit Till? while “Sanford Frets About Prospects of Riots Over Trayvon Martin Killing“.


The racial juxtaposition of sports riots and the Trayvon protests was not lost on law professor Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw. Speaking of The Penn State Scandal and protest of Joe Paterno’s firing, she states

“Fundamentally, we see the difference between how outrage, hurt, and pain is framed sympathetically when it’s about white pain, white institutions, white patriarchs, white heroes, and how just the fear of that kind of acting out [by African-Americans] will create such reactions.

So nothing bad has happened around all of the protests around Trayvon Martin, but everybody is saying: ‘just so it’s non-violent’… ‘just so it doesn’t get out of control’… and ‘let’s not desecrate his memory’. Well, nothing has happened.

So that very disparity represents precisely the disciplinary fear of Black people that led to Trayvon’s death in the first place.”

Dr. Crenshaw’s words can be applied directly to the Ferguson Police as their oppressive militarized tear-gassed response to protesters is the same type of response that led to Michael Brown’s murder.

The privilege regularly experienced by white sports rioters, arsonists, and looters is profound, and perhaps only surpassed by the remarkability of the hundreds of protests surrounding Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman is that there existed almost no violence altogether. And it is important to remember why the protest started — not because of George Zimmerman, but because of the Sanford Police Department refusal to even arrest him. Instead they gave him his gun back.

But those Trayvon protests, like virtually all anti-police brutality protests, went unheard. George Zimmerman was acquitted, and African-Americans get killed by police every 28 hours.

Dr. Martin Luther King has famously stated that: “A riot is the language of the unheard”.

Unless your sports team won the championship.

kentucky-riotThis article first appeared on popsspot.com

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