Reflections On A Week Of Protests And Unrest
Hey, this is curious. City producer Steven Jackson. It's been quite a week. And as you all know, a big part of our mission is listening to you taking your questions and getting you some answers, but the other part is just being transparent about how journalists do their work. And with that in mind. We thought we'd share what it's been like for some of WBZ's journalists this week. Who've been out in Chicago trying to make sense of what's happening in this historic moment? So He. My name is Natalie more and I'm on the race class desk at Yeezy. This week is draining, but it's important to tell the stories that are going on whether it's Copa, nineteen, or if it's about all the unrest that we're saying. It's nonstop particularly for black reporter its grueling, but the work is necessary. Monday morning I went to south shore a neighborhood on this outside. And there was an activist, a young black activists who having a press conference to say no more looting. Let's find ways to rebuild our community in our community. We go what's next? We do. Have to destroy anything to be heard while we got be stuck. At got there and there were a lot of police. There was a large gathering of people and it's almost like a showdown. Young people yelling at the police. because. It. was also a lot of talk about these businesses. Here are not owned. By black folks, they come into our community and act. Still! Several years ago, there was a shooting of a young unarmed black man two blocks away, so they were saying his name. Live Now! My son and his back. And I still haven't got. And then there were other mothers and sisters, talking about their loved ones who had died at the hands of police. Get Away with it. They'RE GONNA kill. Every single delegate to wake up in my sister's. The activists, not that one of the guys who was out there was an agitator. He had never seen him before. He also was black, but he just kept interrupting out. I don't know if it's true. I mean anybody can to public space, but I think there's a heightened sense of who. WHO is out there? Who is here? Who is with us? Who is not? Trying to get on. That's. Prototypes growth don't never noticed. It got thicker with people and the police just cut off seventy first street. It was tense. I mean these are young black people who don't look middle class who don't look so-called presentable. You know with their tattoos cigarettes dangling probably under employed There's certain respectability politics around. This should look like so you just have to do your best to bring nuance to stories because it could have been easy to say a bunch of young black twentysomethings. Yelled at police in people are destroying their neighborhood there certain things that are just easier for people to maybe digest than to start looking at the. Issues that are they are around police, saying or economic development? So there's just there's a lot to to process all the time and it's not going to stop anytime soon. Be No. Won't justice. Night, we want the consenting rearrangement. Hey I'm wbz reporter Monica Hang and so far this week has been. Kind of what has? On Saturday? My daughter had begged and pleaded to be able to go to the protest downtown with some of her friends as he public health reporter, I was not comfortable with her being a large crowd, and so I said okay you can go, but I have to watch to make sure you have an and ninety five mascot it all times, and you're not getting closer than six feet to people that turned out not to be possible, but at least you had the mask on and tried to keep her distance. I've covered you know. Peace Rallies Women's rallies a lot of the kwan protests, but it was. It was very different. But struck them, we got down. There was out. The tons of people pouring into the loop. And immediately you know hanging outside of their cars, saying hey, do you want some free? Basques do need water to everything you need of squad of hand sanitizer you want, and just the amount of young people, young people with this positive energy optimism, and that feeling of. Hope, in a in a city that I've been covering for three decades. Was Pretty astonishing. For a moment in that crowd is all these people of all these different races and. From all parts of the city converged together with one voice. I thought. Maybe maybe we're not GONNA be. This is permanently divided. And segregated city may be with these young people. Maybe, there's hope that. They can create the kind of solidarity and empathy. That's been missing hair to really change things. We left around four o'clock. My daughter was just telling you that you never felt so inspired and hopeful. But then, by the time we watched the news at night now protests, which started out peaceful Turner Rights. By early evening, cars smashed fires in the middle of the streets and buildings looted. All the windows had been broken out and everything inside was gone with riders set cars on fire throughout downtown. The overturned squad cars set squad. The focus was on looting and destruction I wondered you know. Did we just imagine all of that? That positively and with that protests seemed to be about. Then the next day I was assigned to talk to folks after a rally in Evanston, and that's when I talked to young people who were describing the same type of thing I saw the day before it was nice peaceful the way we wanted to. Look. Really, nice I also didn't see as many police here as I did yesterday in Chicago. Compared comparison to a lot of places, so it was very peaceful on both sides. Immediately said wait a minute you were Chicago to you've seen the coverage. How does that square with the Rally Yousof? Got Everything together car and they said that basically they've felt such goodness positively. D. and they felt so protected in that rally. Not feel threatened by a single protesters. The accurate I felt was from the police and yet the rally the people saw in the media and hey I'm part of the media didn't really reflect that. It's frustrating when you were there. In it and you were you saw? Instead of just focusing on the mass media that's being produced I ask. Everyone asks her friends that were at the protests to show them videos of what it looks like to show them. What the reality of it was! I took typing I don't know if you want like. Someone, who has been covering news for three decades I? Know you cover the thing that will. Make people stand up a notice and fires and looting that thing, so I get that, but I also think that it can end up giving a distorted view of kind of what the majority of the people who were at that event experienced and I just I. Just don't want that to get lost. You can't agree. I'm chip Mitchell I report about criminal justice for WBZ and this week has been eye opening, so it Saturday night after the protests, we were hearing a lot of police scanner traffic about looting on the south side, but the mayor didn't really address it at her press conference the next morning so I had to the south side to see what was going on there. I started in back of the yards on forty seventh and Ashland over several hours. I worked my way generally south. Through West Englewood down to Auburn Gresham so few miles. I was on and around South Ashland Avenue for more than six hours I didn't see a single other reporter in any medium. I don't know what I was expecting. I didn't know what I was getting into. I had no idea the scale of the looting that I was going to see. Pretty quickly just south of forty seventh. Groups of young people looked kind of disorganized breaking into jewelry and pawnshops one after the other and they'd come out with arms full of necklaces, heaving away big TV's trying to jam into a car that was not big enough for it and taking a lot of time. No police around in fact I saw police SUV. Drive right by as if he had noticed what was going on. I saw one seen after another cell phone shops, pharmacies liquor stores. Looting that was involving a lot of people. Find it made it to a stretch on route. Seventy six and Ashland couple big grocery stores biggest grocery stores in the neighborhood ones all these others, Walmart men and women of all ages grabbing a shopping cart, going in. They're coming out with a cart, full packed, unloading the cart into the car, and going back for more hundreds of people, mothers and fathers taking advantage of the situation. Yes, but also. Also, getting a lot of stuff that maybe they don't have a chance in normal times, if we can call it normal to fill up a card at Walmart, and they were going to do it this time, and and I would see mother with a cart full of food and household essentials. You know she wasn't going trick and a younger woman was helping around loaded into the back of the car. One family after another hundreds of people involved with us. It was a sight to behold. People have been poor for a long time. So all it takes is the right situation that happen for people to unleash. There's young man in his early thirties. Here's waiting for a bus. While the buses were still running, he will have a ride in for thousands of years, and it's always. It's always a combination of things. This is what people do when they are desperate. And he didn't think that it was such a bad thing. When Martin Luther King that, didn't they? Riot? Did they riot? He that first off the do up US Leon, and then next to him as I'm talking to him. In older woman shed pullback. Great hair she. She later told me she was seventy one. But I understand that, but like affects the up your town and got nothing to win. She was disgusted by it. She could understand the impulse to take property, but she thought it was very counterproductive. At one point at seventy I in Ashland, a liquor store that had been shut tight with corrugated metal shutters, but someone had pride a piece of the shot up, and then in the window behind it, and so there was this like three foot by three foot opening that people could duck in and and go in and there were people for. Oh I I've been watching it for probably ten or fifteen minutes streaming in one after another coming in, and then come back out with our arms, full of bottles and boxes of blues. Few minutes later finally, one squad car comes arrives in. An officer gets out. He's got this big canister of pepper spray I assume he stood at the opening of the liquor store as it's getting looted and one person at a time is coming out. Each one who came out, he stood there and sprayed them the pepper spray, and it was it was. It was a crazy scene, but it was because it was like came out. They took turns coming out. They got sprayed. And then they. You know trying to wipe there is. It was almost like they were taking what was coming to them that that's what it seemed like. Then his partner gets out, and those two officers stood guard, and in front of that liquor store and the looting stop. After about ten minutes, they left and looting started right back up again at that same liquor store and went on and on and on. Even as the owners brother came to it was there standing and watching it, there was nothing he could do. The next morning. We need all. Mayor Lightfoot is at a press conference. Cheat attributed the neighborhood looting to quote a criminal element to and David Brown the police superintendent he was, he was next to her on the ground in the field, and I watched these loaders strategically. He talked about the neighborhood leaders as criminal rings that were outsmarting the police. Officers and hit the target. They intended Kim. Fox talked about how office was working with federal agencies to hold outside agitators accountable what they go and they advocate and it was just it was just frankly absurd. Kicking working on at for era, people who know that. So I try to make sense of this. You know why public officials are focusing on this idea that the looting was organized by outsiders when what I saw in broad daylight for hours and hours on, Sunday was just the opposite. At No, I'm not in their heads, but I think it's just easier to think about looting as a problem that can be solved by arresting a few people or a few dozen people rather as an upheaval tied the property and desperation. A think it's easier to conduct criminal investigations than to come up with investment for these communities investment on a scale that would make them less volatile in less violent, and that would also avert repeats of the unrest. We've seen over this last week. We bought the too much already. Why go through this sin? The people who knew? If, thousands of people in the country are doing something. You have to have a high around. Why is thousands? If thousands of people are doing some in cities and states all over in all you can say. Why would they break in our I would just say we got a raise our understanding to see why that happening. What I what I realize this? A. My Name is Sarah Carb and I'm a reporter with WBZ. The week has been very tiring and both heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. Heartbreaking, it's definitely been just seeing young kids teenagers having to declare you know I wanna live or don't shoot or. Feeling the need to say like I am a human. Being in my life should be protected. I mean this is so basic and that we have kids. Having to say that is heartbreaking. Mean it's. It's. It's sad. Sunday evening I went to a protest that was happening of kids from Hyde Park. One moment that really stuck with me is that they walked onto lake shore drive, and then they all took a knee, and raised their hand in the sign of black power, and I don't know seeing the the skyline in the distance, and then seeing kids kneeling on. For Dr was somehow really. Moving in made me sort of think like it's is sad, it's like it's a burden that these these kids carry. that. I. Guess I wish they didn't have to carry. And then last night. Ends and another protests where one thing that they did is they repeated eight time. Bomb I, WANNA breathe. Think Eddie mother. Who saw or heard? George Floyd. You know begging for his mother. You can't be a human being not not feel for that. As mother of three bucks, sons. Like you always fear every time they leave the house. And even a black husband is the world is really dangerous place. Type I've three sons. Ages Twenty, two, twenty and fifteen. And on Sunday they all went downtown because they wanted to participate in the protests. My Son, my twenty year old son said to me. Why aren't you coming? And I was like well, I can't call him because it's you know it's my job not to. Not to go to my job to report on it, but I can't go and participate and he was just like Oh. What do you value more? Your job or fighting for what's right? I really feel like he was sort of challenging something. That's such a fundamental thing of what we question all the time I mean all the time. You. I don't know that there was a great answer to that. But We soldier on I guess. The more information out there the more voices out there the more the truth will come out the more the discussion will be deeper and better so I think I just sort of say that my role is to put the microphone in places and let people voice be amplified. That was WBZ's Sarah Carp chip Mitchell Monica ing and Natalie more. As always curious city is here to take your questions. If you've got a question about the ongoing protests or the pandemic, or if you're wondering something else about this moment or something else about our region, find us at WBZ, dot org or on facebook or twitter at wbz curious city. Curiousity is supported by the Coenen Family Foundation. I'm Steven Jackson.