The biker gang Western-style shootout in Waco, Texas on Sunday that left 9 people dead, several injured and 170 arrested hardly got much TV coverage the day it happened. This was unusual as school shootings and other gun shooting incidents typically get instant hour-to-hour cable TV coverage.
I first learned about the biker gang shootout over the Internet and being conditioned to expect full TV coverage, I reached for my TV remote control and keyed in the CNN channel number. There was no coverage there, so I switched to Fox News – nothing their either, then MSNBC, and still nothing.
Is there a good reason why CNN and other cable stations were not covering the biker gang bloodbath in Waco? Could it be that they do not want to portray white people as criminals or gangs? The day after the incident – Monday – the story was not the lead story and there was no extensive coverage as is usually the case with similar gun shooting incidents.
Biker gangs are well known to law enforcement, as they are associated with criminal activities and violence. The question then is that if biker gangs are known to law enforcement and have a history of criminality and violence why aren’t they portrayed the way black rioters or inner city black gangs are? Could it be that biker gangs are predominantly white, well organized, and well financed? If that is the case then it is clearly a double standard.
The contrast in TV news coverage of incidents for black riots like the one recently in Baltimore and the biker gang incidents seems to expose a double standard and hypocrisy of law enforcement and the media. In the Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore riots, conservative TV talk show hosts called the rioters criminals, looters, scums, and thugs. So far, I have not heard or seen the same names applied to the biker gangs. Maybe white gang members benefit from white privilege or it could simply be the halo effect – in-group members don’t see the faults of their own members only of out-group members.
It is reasonable to say that the black rioters who react to race-related incidents like in Ferguson and Baltimore are less dangerous than biker gangs are. Although they loot and do extensive property damage, they seldom kill people like the biker gangs did in Waco, Texas. Not even the Black Panther party, which the media portrays negatively, behaves in a brutal manner like biker gangs.
Law enforcement was aware of the biker gangs meeting at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco. They even had unmarked police cars at the location. The question then is why did the city allow the biker gangs with their history of criminal activities and violence to convene their meeting in a public business place? Would they have allowed the Blood and Crips gangs to convene such a meeting? I doubt that very much. The difference between a black gang and a white gang is one of perception and racial bias. The perception is that blacks more than whites are prone to criminal behavior and are more dangerous.
Criminals and dangerous people are found in all races and culture and they should be treated the same regardless of their race. Law enforcement does not look good when it treats one racial group (in this case whites) that has a history of criminal behavior differently from another racial group (black rioters or inner city gangs) that has a similar history. The same is true for the media when their reporting or conversations and incidents differ with racial groups that have a criminal history.
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