Thank God for YouTube. Or else we never would have know that hundreds of times in more than 50 cities since 2010, groups of black people have been roaming the streets of America–assaulting, intimidating, stalking, threatening, vandalizing, stealing, shooting, stabbing, even raping and killing.
But today the denials are crumbling. The curtains are lifting. We now can see what so many public officials and media have been curiously desperate to deny: Race riots are back.
And not just in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York. Places like Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado and Indiana have their very own race riots, too.
Let’s look at Philadelphia. In the spring of 2010, large groups of black people–as in thousands–began gathering in the “eclectic” section of South Philadelphia. Mayhem and violence followed.
Then came the YouTube videos, showing thousands of black people roaming the streets of Philadelphia, with violence and injury following. Pizza shops, hotels, bar, tourists, the largest attacks all took place on South Street.
Pulling people out of cars and beating them.
And there were lots and lots of video cameras: Local network affiliates were all over it with video. But no one had the nerve to say what they video screamed: All the attackers and looters were black.
Police claimed that none of the injuries imposed by the mob was serious. Turns out they had not even checked. Ronnie Polaneczky, columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, did.
She found John, a maintenance mechanic, who suffered severe brain injury and facial fractures and was still in the hospital two weeks after he was pulled from a bike and beaten.
In July 2011, hundreds of blacks created an “astonishing” amount of violence at downtown Philadelphia restaurants, hotels and bars.
July 4, 2011, 10-20black people assault and stab a student and his dog from LaSalle University.He’s still alive, though many people do not know why. The dog probably saved him.
In Spring of 2010,police break up a black flash mob in the Tioga-Nicetown section of Philly. Kids were bored and acting stupid, said the reporter. The video tells another story.
Then came the reader comments to the race-neutral stories: Hundreds and hundreds wanted to know why reporters repeatedly refused to identify the race of the attackers.
People knew two things were important: One, large groups of black people were systematically assaulting people in their town; and two, lots of people seemed way too heavily invested in not talking about the central organizing feature of the crime: The gangs of violent criminals were black.
Then, one month later, Philadelphia’s black Mayor Nutter blew all the deniers out of the water.
After years of denying and explaining dozens of attacks, Nutter took to the pulpit of a local black church to break the silence and mention the “R” word: Race. In a Sunday speech in July of 2011, the mayor admitted his city had a problem with violent black people:
“You have damaged your own race.”
All the kids needed, said the mayor and his crew, was a place to go. Something to do. How about bowling? So the mayor organized a “Teen Night” bowling for the kids–which was just fine until someone got stabbed in a fight after the bowling.
Several months after her attack, Guendelsberger is going through some changes, she told NPR. After Mayor Nutter got religion, so did she:
“I am afraid of young, black men now. It’s very annoying because there are a lot of young, black men in Philadelphia. I honestly just wish I could go back to how I was before,” she says.
And all these attacks began one year after a Department of Justice investigation found that black students at South Philadelphia High School had been systematically assaulting Asian students for years. When this story broke, the superintendent of schools gave the Asian students a pamphlet, telling them how to talk and act towards blacks so they would not antagonize them.
Of course, it is not just Philly.
Public officials, local media and even victims may be too squeamish to talk about the new race riots, but YouTube is not. Neither is talk radio.
So we learn in fits and starts and pieces and glimpses. Finally, we are connecting the dots. Which is good: The solutions cannot begin until the denial ends. But first we all need to hear–and see–it.