Philly riots after Super Bowl: Eagles fans celebrate
Watch Eagles fans celebrate Super Bowl win with an epic party in Philadelphia
“The Philadelphia Eagles’ first Super Bowl victory set off rowdy celebrations in Philadelphia as people who poured into the streets set at least one fire and damaged property early on Monday…”
These are the headlines I woke up to this morning. Then I saw a screenshot of a comment posted on an article about the Philly riot. The comment said, ‘White people rioting is so adorable, though *smiley face emoji*’ and I immediately felt frustrated and angry. Yes, I understand sarcasm, and that this person may have been commenting sarcastically. However, this is the essence of how these sports riots are portrayed in the media, as ‘revelers’ and ‘celebrators’. The media will refer to adult white males as ‘boys’ and infantilize them and coddle them, even when they are mass murderers or rapists or even, perhaps, colluding with Russia (I’m looking at you Donny Jr.). Then turn around and refer to black children and teenagers as ‘men’ and ‘thugs’ or even liken them to demons.
I watched a short video of the rioting last night. I watched as police officers, their only visible protection bicycle helmets, stood around a car that had been flipped on to its side. I watched as a young white man walked past and high fived each of those officers. The officers did not seem afraid, or even slightly concerned, about being totally surrounded by a huge crowd of people who had, very recently, flipped over a freakin’ car in the middle of the street. Here’s the whole video, if you want to watch it: https://youtu.be/OGeu0ejY6kI
Sports riots are not new, and the Philly rioting wasn’t even close to being the worst sports riot. Every couple of years this happens and it's always treated with this ‘Aw, shucks’ mentality of ‘sports fans will just be sports fans’. Occasionally people will be surprised by the violence and destruction caused, but it is always accompanied by a shrug and comments of ‘What are you gonna do? Those crazy kids just needed to blow off steam.’ Of course, this leads into a discussion of toxic masculinity and why it is acceptable that a male sports fan should celebrate winning a game by becoming violent and destroying property. Watch the documentary ‘The Mask You Live In’ on Netflix. It covers this topic better than I could hope to.
One might argue that it would be difficult to preemptively organize a police response to a sports riot, since they are so hard to predict. So I wondered, is the police response different for planned gatherings?
Let’s do a quick compare and contrast exercise:
Can you spot the police in the image from Charlottesville? They’re watching from all the way accross the street.
In both instances the police had time to prepare for a large gathering of people. And you can see that in one of these photos they actually did prepare. For a vigil. That’s when people come to mourn and remember a person who has died. Not for the Unite the Right Rally tiki torch incident where hundreds of white supremacists were brandishing literal torches and marching around yelling hate speech and then proceeded to attack people who were protesting them. No preparation for that, only for the vigil for the murdered teenager.
Deray McKesson, an activist, twitter personality, and creator of the podcast ‘Pod Save the People’, has coined a phrase for whenever white people get up to some shenanigans. The phrase is ‘Watch whiteness work’.
White people can get away with anything. Now, I don’t mean that white people don’t face consequences for breaking laws or being bad people, they do. They just aren’t murdered for it, or beaten, tear-gassed, shot with rubber bullets, etc. White criminals are not portrayed as thugs or demons or just another future gang member. White criminals are treated like special little snowflakes who just had mental health problems, or had a bad break-up, or weren’t loved by their mommies and daddies. Let us not forget that after the police arrested Dylan Roof, who open fired in a church and murdered nine people, they took him through a drive-thru to get him some food on their way to the police station.
White people get help. They get to rejoin society after they have paid for their crimes. Black people, those who survive getting arrested, do not have that privilege.
Look, none of this is new. Very rarely do you get new takes on racism and white supremacy because this same shit has just been repeating itself under different guises for 250+ years. What’s different now is that we have access to all of this information. We have access to the truth. The truth here is that white people are allowed to get away with crimes and bad behaviors that black people are murdered in the streets for.