Civil 'RIGHTS' or 'WRONGS'?

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Civil Rights? Or . .
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UN-Civil Wrongs?

Using Images Today Recalling Civil Rights Times

The pictures - recently exposed in a few days of unsettlement in Ferguson following the shooting death of a black teenager, who had no weapon - by a brutal copy, remind us of similar photos of the Southern Sixites when the racial riots, like riots of 1992 in Los Angeles, California.

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However, these have brought on a deluge of comments concerning the differences of 50 years ago compared to these days.

 

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Questions show concern as to whether or not these images have the same impact today to move the people's voices and notions to create enough influence in the political arena. Especially, concerning the quickly changing methods of the demonstrations, even greater than the LA riots or the "Occupy Wall Street" type movements - into a battle of visual perseptions.

 

Civil Rights or Wrongs 4 end warThis open conflict contrasts the appearance of innocent crowds of demostrators against mighty soldier types - Like those of black demonstrators moving along with hands in the air in compliance - or those of people charging forward, tossing rocks or bricks and robbing places along the way.

We can observe in The Philadelphia Daily News, a story to prove this idea, showing in the very early morning hours today (Thursday); a reply to Twitter's comments of a reader - concerning the image The Daily was going to show on front page - A black protester preparing to toss something resembling a firebomb - when all of a sudden editors decided to drop the idea - and in its pace to use a different image - of a black woman facing policemen, holding her poster asking for answers about the murder of a young teen, Michael Brown.

We found this on the Internet to follow up:

An assistant city editor wrote on Twitter to those objecting to the first picture that they would be able to understand the whole story, in a “sympathetic treatment,” if they opened the paper. But a reader responded, “Yes, in ten-point font I can see the fine print, which is completely overwhelmed by the picture.”Civil Rights or Wrongs BW2

In the civil rights era, the visual stamp of the movement was determined by newspapers and the nightly news. Today, the imagery one sees depends on the filters one uses. One person’s Twitter feed may be full of footage of police firing tear gas or of peaceful protesters with their hands up. But David J. Garrow, a historian at the University of Pittsburgh’s law school and the author of several books on the civil rights movement, noted that when he searched for images of Ferguson on Google, roughly half showed what appeared to be looting.

Such images look “more like Watts in 1965 or Newark in 1967, not Birmingham in 1963 or Selma in 1965,” Dr. Garrow said. And historically, he said, such photos were “deadly when it came to white public opinion.”

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Police appear very concerned in Ferguson regarding the way things look with these pictures. T. Jackson, the chief of police there, says that officials there were meeting to discuss not just tactics, but also the way things appear (to the public) concerning the image of police force. Likely because of similarities to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Kuwait or Iraq, in social media.

Photos of vicious police dogs of the race riots in the '60s might be on purpose, or maybe not. At that time J.F.K. issued an statement prohibiting the use of canines in crowd control. Reminders of nonviolent demonstrations of civil rights times - like shirts that read "I AM A MAN" are seen in today's protests, although actually from the 1960's.

Civil Rights or Wrongs 6Diane McWhorter, the author of “Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution,” said she also saw echoes of those signs in the protesters’ hands-up gesture, an instantly recognizable cue that seems to be both born of the quick-read Internet news cycle and able to shape it.

“In one case, it’s a kind of mass witness of personhood,” Ms. McWhorter said of the “I Am a Man” signs, “and in the other case, a mass witness of innocence. Those images are very powerful.”

Civil Rights or Wrongs BWSome historians see dangers in those visual echoes. Martin A. Berger, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of “Seeing Through Race: A Reinterpretation of Civil Rights Photography,” said that while images of a protester throwing a firebomb or of the police spraying tear gas may start conversations, the historical associations can also distort public understanding.

“We can look at these pictures and say that Ferguson is the same as Los Angeles or Birmingham, because it looks the same,” Dr. Berger said. “But we have to ask not just, ‘What is the same?’ but also, ‘What are the ways in which America has changed?’ To just have another conversation that stops at the level of police brutality doesn’t really get us very far.”

Civil Rights or Wrongs marchThese photographs emerged during the days of unrest in Ferguson following the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer have drawn mournful comparisons to pictures of the Deep South in the 1960s or of more recent racial unrest, like the 1992 Los Angeles riots. But they have also prompted a flood of commentary about the differences half a century has made in the visual economy.

They have raised questions about whether photos have the same power now to sway public opinion and political will; about the increasingly sophisticated ways an image-saturated public reads a picture’s racial and political subtext; and about the rapid transformation of the protests, even more so than the Los Angeles riots or the Occupy movement, into a war of images.

Civil Rights or Wrongs hoseThe war pits what appears to be a large-scale paramilitary police presence against crowds of African-American protesters walking with their hands raised in surrender — or people throwing things and looting. The Philadelphia Daily News was a case in point in the speed with which 21st-century image parsing can occur.

In the wee hours of Thursday morning — in response to readers’ comments on Twitter about a photo the newspaper had planned to run on its front page, showing an African-American protester in Ferguson about to hurl what looked like a firebomb — editors changed their minds and instead used a photograph of an African-American woman standing in front of police officers, holding a sign urging answers in the death of the teenager, Michael Brown. An assistant city editor wrote on Twitter to those objecting to the first picture that they would be able to understand the whole story, in a “sympathetic treatment,” if they opened the paper.

Civil Rights or Wrongs I am MANBut a reader responded, “Yes, in ten-point font I can see the fine print, which is completely overwhelmed by the picture.” Continue reading the main story In the civil rights era, the visual stamp of the movement was determined by newspapers and the nightly news.

Today, the imagery one sees depends on the filters one uses. One person’s Twitter feed may be full of footage of police firing tear gas or of peaceful protesters with their hands up. But David J. Garrow, a historian at the University of Pittsburgh’s law school and the author of several books on the civil rights movement, noted that when he searched for images of Ferguson on Google, roughly half showed what appeared to be looting. Such images look “more like Watts in 1965 or Newark in 1967, not Birmingham in 1963 or Selma in 1965,” Dr. Garrow said.

And historically, he said, such photos were “deadly when it came to white public opinion.” In Ferguson, the police seem to be just as worried about the dominance of certain imagery. The city’s police chief, Thomas Jackson, said during a news conference Thursday that officials were meeting “to talk about not only the tactics but the appearance” of the police force, whose resemblance to American soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan has quickly become a social media theme. Some visual echoes of the 1960s, like the Ferguson police’s use of dogs, may be unintentional. (During the 1963 March on Washington, President John F. Kennedy forbade the use of dogs for crowd control, knowing how badly it would play.)

Civil Rights or Wrongs 5But on the protesters’ side, there have been deliberate efforts to evoke the nonviolent protests of the civil rights era, like T-shirts with the slogan “I Am a Man,” borrowed from signs carried during the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike. Diane McWhorter, the author of “Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution,” said she also saw echoes of those signs in the protesters’ hands-up gesture, an instantly recognizable cue that seems to be both born of the quick-read Internet news cycle and able to shape it.

“In one case, it’s a kind of mass witness of personhood,” Ms. McWhorter said of the “I Am a Man” signs, “and in the other case, a mass witness of innocence.

Civil Rights or Wrongs dogsThose images are very powerful.” Some historians see dangers in those visual echoes. Martin A. Berger, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of “Seeing Through Race: A Reinterpretation of Civil Rights Photography,” said that while images of a protester throwing a firebomb or of the police spraying tear gas may start conversations, the historical associations can also distort public understanding.

“We can look at these pictures and say that Ferguson is the same as Los Angeles or Birmingham, because it looks the same,” Dr. Berger said.

“But we have to ask not just, ‘What is the same?’ but also, ‘What are the ways in which America has changed?’ To just have another conversation that stops at the level of police brutality doesn’t really get us very far.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As Muslims living amongst these same people and being close to similar situations - What are we to do?

 

 

Our suggestion is for all Muslims to come together to offer our voice - A voice of Peace, Liberty, Rights and Justice (for more than "just us") FOR ALL.

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