Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Truth in reporting

I was following the story over the weekend but wasn't able to blog about it until now.

Sunday, 7:26 a.m. (Yahoo News timestamp):
Emergency Declared After Anti-Nazi Riots
Ohio Mayor Declares Emergency, Sets Curfew After White Supremacists' March Turns Violent

TOLEDO, Ohio Oct 16, 2005 — Protesters at a white supremacists' march threw rocks at police, vandalized vehicles and stores and cursed the mayor for allowing the event.

Mayor Jack Ford said when he and a local minister tried to calm the rioters Saturday, they were cursed and a masked gang member threatened to shoot him. At one point, the crowd reached 600 people, officials said.

Rioters set fire to 86-year-old Louis Ratajski's neighborhood pub, Jim & Lou's Bar, but he and his nephew escaped the flames.

"To be honest with you, there weren't enough police to take care of them," he said.

At least 65 people were arrested and several police officers were injured before calm was restored about four hours later.

Ford blamed the rioting on gangs taking advantage of a volatile situation. He declared a state of emergency, set an 8 p.m. curfew through the weekend and asked the Highway Patrol for help.

"It's exactly what they wanted," Ford said of the group that planned the march, which was canceled because of the rioting.

At least two dozen members of the National Socialist Movement, which calls itself "America's Nazi Party," had gathered at a city park to march under police protection. Organizers said they were demonstrating against black gangs they said were harassing white residents.
So it wasn't the neo-Nazis who were rioting, causing severe property damage and assaulting police officers. It was the blacks who were "protesting." Let's be perfectly honest: Mayor Ford is absolutely right that these weren't "protestors," but gang members who took advantage of the situation -- just like hoodlums took advantage in Los Angelas in 1992, after three of the police who arrested and beat Rodney King were acquitted. I was surprised to Mayor Tom Bradley admit that on TV, that the rioters weren't at all interested in justice, only their ability to use the trial as an excuse for violence.

Sunday, 3:29 p.m. (Yahoo News timestamp):
Police: Ohio Riot Was Worse Than Expected

TOLEDO, Ohio Oct 16, 2005 — Police began receiving word midweek that gangs were going to descend on a neighborhood where a riot erupted over a planned march by a white supremacist group, but the resulting disturbance was worse than expected, the police chief said Sunday....

Officers who work in the area reported that gang members were planning to turn out in force, and authorities made plans to handle any disturbances, Police Chief Mike Navarre said at a news conference Sunday morning....

Authorities want to determine why protesters turned their anger toward police after the Nazi group left, Lucas County Sheriff James Telb said. Officers wearing gas masks fired tear gas canisters and flash-bang devices designed to stun suspects, only to see the groups reform and resume throwing rocks.

People were "highly angry over the idea that someone from outside the community could come in and insult them" in their neighborhood, Mayor Jack Ford said.
Who is at all surprised that the gangs had already planned to riot? Mayor Ford gave a sensible soundbite in the first story, and a naïve one here. The rioting gang members turned on police because they could. They were already rioting because they could, using the neo-Nazi march as an excuse to unleash their inner criminal natures. The neo-Nazis could have sung "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and the gangs would have still rioted.

What really got me was this, which Yahoo News timestamped Sunday, 10:49 p.m.:
Neighbors: Neo-Nazis Had No Right to March

Much of the anger boiled over because people were upset that city leaders were willing to allow the supremacists to walk through the neighborhood and shout insults, residents and authorities said.

"You can't allow people to come challenge a whole city and not think they weren't going to strike back," said Kenneth Allen, 47, who watched the violence begin near his home.

Authorities said there was little they could do to stop the group, because they did not apply for a parade permit and instead planned to walk along sidewalks.

"They do have a right to walk on the Toledo sidewalks," said Mayor Jack Ford, who at one point confronted leaders of the mob and tried to settle them down.

A gang member in a mask threatened to shoot him, and others cursed him for allowing the march, the mayor said. He said he didn't know if the man who threatened him was actually armed, but he blamed gangs for much of the violence. The march had been called off because of the crowds, and the white supremacists had left.

If the Nazi group tries to come back, Ford said he would seek a court order to stop them.

Navarre said the riots escalated because members of the National Socialist Movement took their protest to the neighborhood, which is predominantly black, instead of a neutral place. "If this march had occurred in downtown Toledo, we wouldn't have had the unrest," he said....

"They don't have the right to bring hate to my front yard," said Terrance Anderson, who lives near a bar that was destroyed.
As Evelyn Hall of the Friends of Voltaire said, "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Those who wanted the neo-Nazis stopped from marching are just as intolerant as the neo-Nazis they accuse. They want freedom of speech for themselves but not for others. It reminds me of "The American President" with Michael Douglas and Annette Bening. I caught the tail end sometime this weekend, where a good point was made in the middle of ultra-leftist bunk (like making America safer by disarming peaceful citizens, and "the safety of our natural resources). If you want true freedom of speech, then you must accept that someone else has the same freedom to express things completely at odds with what you believe. Are the neo-Nazis wrong to believe what they do? Without a doubt. But if government has the power to censor them, then why do we deserve our own freedom of speech? And what is to prevent government from censoring us?

The answer is to prosecute them for actual crimes, where they violate people's life, liberty and property. But they apparently weren't causing any damage; how ironic that the police were so focused on the wrong people.

And Mayor Ford apparently caved in to racial pressure. No doubt he's seeking reelection and doesn't want to let his opponent use this issue against him. "Why should you re-elected Mayor Ford, who supports the right of neo-Nazis to march!"

Incredibly, the story doesn't end here. Via Michelle Malkin's blog, I learned that, after carrying all those AP articles to the contrary, ABC News actually blamed the rioting on the neo-Nazis:

Notice the side picture used, with all silhouettes so that newcomers to the story don't realize that the title is false:

Michelle pointed to this updated story at ABC News' website:

The side picture is still the same. Don't we all love a press that can take photos so ambiguous that they can use them for something different?


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