Growing Number Of Race Riots Leave A Dark Mark On Obama’s Legacy
The violent riots that broke out in Charlotte after a black police officer shot and killed a black man fall into a line of similar race-related riots that mark President Barack Obama’s legacy.
Under Obama, the number of both white and black Americans who believe race relations are good has declined, and a July Rasmussen poll found 60 percent of Americans think race relations are worse; a growing number of violent riots across the country seem to back up that sentiment.
Here are more than 10 riots that have occurred since Obama took office in 2008.
Charlotte – 2016
Residents of Charlotte, N.C., took to the streets after police shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old black man. His wife says he didn’t have a gun, but police say Scott was in fact brandishing a weapon they found at the scene.
The incident quickly set off violent riots, in which nine people were injured and 44 arrested. At one point, rioters tried to burn a reporter alive, and a state of emergency has been declared. A man was shot and killed, and 12 police officers have been injured.
Milwaukee – 2016
Rioting broke out in Milwaukee, Wisc., in August after Sylville Smith, a 23-year-old black male, was shot and killed by police. Though Smith had a gun in his hand and was turning toward an officer at the time of his killing, many saw the incident as part of a wider pattern of racial profiling and excessive force used on black suspects in Milwaukee.
In response, demonstrators set businesses, buildings and cars ablaze. A gas station was set on fire, rioters threw a brick a police officer’s head, and some shot off guns. Arrests were made.
St. Paul – 2016
In July, St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black male he mistook for a robbery suspect. The aftermath was recorded on a cellphone by Diamond Reynolds, a woman who was a passenger in Castile’s car at the time of his shooting.
Protests — initially peaceful — began with people shutting down a highway in St. Paul, Minn., in July. As protesters and police faced off, the situation devolved into violence. Twenty-one officers were injured and 100 rioters were arrested. Cinder blocks and fireworks were used as weapons against police.
Mayor Chris Coleman referred to the situation as a riot.
Baltimore – 2015
Baltimore gained nationwide attention in April 2015 after the death of Freddie Gray in the back of a police van. Gray’s death, the result of spinal cord injuries, has led to some accusing officers of giving Gray a “rough ride” — a form of police brutality.
Rioters destroyed cars and buildings, infamously setting a CVS Pharmacy on fire. When firefighters tried to put the fire out, somebody cut a hole in the hose. Some rioters tried to light a pizza shop owner on fire by dousing him in lighter fluid.
Berkeley – 2014
In December 2014, protests in the Berkeley area broke out in response to both the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, two black males killed by police in 2014. The police officers involved were not indicted in either case.
The demonstrations quickly devolved into disorder, with rioters throwing rocks and bricks at officers, starting fires, looting, and damaging police cars and stores, leading to arrests.
Ferguson – 2014
Beginning in August, looting and destruction of businesses occurred, and rioting took place again in late November after the decision not to indict. Buildings were set on fire, police cars destroyed, and violent protests persisted throughout the night. Police responded with tear gas in an effort to disperse rioters.
A Department of Justice report later cleared police officer Darren Wilson of any wrongdoing. Ferguson has also seen unrest on anniversaries of Brown’s shooting, with shootings in 2015 and gunfire in 2016 after a car struck a protester.
Brooklyn – 2013
Sparked by the New York Police Department shooting of Kimani Gray, an armed 16-year-old black male, riots broke out in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. Gray was armed, and officers say he pointed his gun at police. Still, some alleged police brutality.
A vigil for Gray that started out peacefully became violent, with stores and bodegas looted and bystanders hurt.
Rioters smashed windows and trashed a Rite Aid, also beating and robbing a man at the Rite Aid. The riots continued for several more nights. Police officers were injured, including one hit in the face with a brick. Officers arrested 50 people.
Anaheim – 2012
In July 2012, riots broke out in Anaheim, Calif., after two Latino men, Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo, were shot in unrelated incidents in consecutive days.
Los Angeles – 2012
Police estimated 150 people participated in a July 2012 riot to protest George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the Trayvon Martin murder trial on Los Angeles’ Crenshaw Boulevard. Many saw Zimmerman’s targeting of Martin as racial profiling; Obama remarked, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
Rioters assaulted police, stomped cars, broke windows, started fires and beat reporters. Eleven people were arrested in San Bernadino, Calif., for throwing rocks and bricks.
Los Angeles – 2010
The Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles was rocked in September 2010 with violent protests after the police shooting of a Latino man named Manuel Ramirez. Ramirez was intoxicated and wielding a knife, but many thought the officers’ reaction to quickly shoot him was excessive.
During the riots, police officers were hit with bottles and rocks, injuring two, and leading to four arrests for inciting a riot. Rioters also lit trash cans and mattresses on fire.
Oakland – 2010
On Jan. 1, 2009, Oakland police officer Johannes Mehserle shot Oscar Grant, an unarmed black male. Grant was lying on the floor when he was shot, and Mehserle claims he accidentally fired his gun when he went to grab his taser. Some activists referred to the shooting as a murder. Riots erupted in Oakland, with several businesses destroyed and cars set on fire.
In June 2010, when Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter instead of murder in the shooting of Grant, rioting again took place across Oakland. Looting occurred, businesses were damaged and vandalized, and at least 100 arrests were made.
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