Media Portrays Violent Riots In Milwaukee As ‘Unrest’ And ‘Frustrations’

Amber Randall | Civil Rights Reporter

As violent race riots erupted in Milwaukee, Wisc., after the police shooting of an armed suspect, various media outlets came out to describe the riots as “unrest” and “frustrations.”

A black police officer shot an armed black man, Sylville Smith, last Aug. 13 in Milwaukee. A pair of officers stopped the car that Smith and another person were driving. The two men tried to run away, and police pursued them.

Police said the officer shot Smith when he refused to drop his gun; Smith died on the scene. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the police body camera revealed that Smith had a gun on him during the time.

Following news of the shooting, Milwaukee erupted into a serious of violent riots. People set businesses on fire; Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker activated the National Guard. A video circulated purporting to show black teens targeting unsuspecting white people.

The Washington Post ran a headline that referred to the riots as “unrest.” While they described the “unrest” as “violent”, the article also described the riots as “unease” and “heated demonstrations.”

The New York Times published a headline that read “Angry After Milwaukee Police Shooting, Protesters Turn Against Media, Too.” The article referred to the rioters as “demonstrators” and described their actions as taking out “frustration on police and property.”

An ABC News article also had a headline declaring “Milwaukee To Enforce Curfew In Wake Of Unrest.” Another ABC News headline read ” ‘Milwaukee Uprising’ Shines Spotlight One Of America’s Most Segregated Cities. The article described the riots as “unrest” and “discord,” and referred to those who set businesses on fire as “protesters.”

A CNN article, “The Awkward Race Issue Milwaukee Shooting Raises,” said that the shooting sparked an “unrest in a black community — unrest so profound.” Another CNN article claimed that the shooting “triggered unrest” and referred to those who set buildings on fire as “protesters.”

An NBC News headline also called the riots “unrest.” The same article described the riots as “violent street protests.” Another NBC News headline also called referred to the riots as “unrest.” Rioters were called “protesters” and the article said that officers “clashed” with almost “100 protesters.”

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