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fore, that each and every TV station is being operated "in the public interest, necessity, and convenience."
What is the "public interest"? Using that as a yardstick, what should be shown on TV and what should not? There are no easy answers, particularly when we are concerned with TV coverage during demonstrations, protests, and actual or potential riots.
For example, if Rap Brown is making an inflammatory speech before 20 people—and that is about as good as he can do without TVshould TV come along and give him an audience of several million ?
It is exciting viewing, but is it in the public interest?
Suppose during a near-riot situation in a major city the head of the NAACP calls a meeting designed to discuss problems and ease tensions. Suppose 500 people are listening attentively as he gives a calm, reasonable analysis of the situation. Suppose a member of an extremist group crashes the meeting and, before anyone can stop him, runs to the stage shouting hysterical accusations and threats against “Whitey.” Who gets the most TV coverage? The hate-filled extremist, or the responsible head of the NAAČP! What about the public interest ?
When does TV stop reporting news and start creating news! At a recent Ku Klux Klan convention in southern California, there were literally more TV cameras present than delegates.
Suppose that during a riot 100 policemen are trying to disperse a crowd which remains in a public park in violation of the curfew. Ninety-nine policemen go calmly and efficiently about their jobs. They move with caution and restraint. They submit to jeers, insults, even minor physical abuse. Suddenly one policeman breaks under the strain, starts screaming obscenities and flailing about with his nightstick, hitting anyone in range—men, women, or children. Should that be televised? It is true. It is honest reporting. It is dramatic. Is it in the public interest ?
Should rioters be able to use TV as a means of publishing battle orders?
Suppose during a lull in a big city riot, a person who had admittedly taken part in the riot was saying, “It ain't over yet. We are just getting warmed up. It's still “burn, baby, burn! But tonight it's not Watts, but Bel Air. If you want some action, be there at 10 o'clock.” Should that go over the air?
Is it in the public interest? It would certainly create a great story. There would be excitement in Bel Air and great viewing for the stay-at-homes. But how about the public interest?
Not too long ago, the famous Sunset Strip became a hangout of hippies, agitators, and unruly juveniles. Before long, the Strip attracted public interest. It is now a matter of record that on several occasions the crowds erupted into a frenzy of senseless violence.
Here is what the news editor of KPOL in Los Angeles reports in the spring 1967 issue of the Columbia Journalism Review:
More than once during the Sunset Strip trouble, reporters, cameramen and soundmen from at least two stations, one of them network owned and operated, encouraged the crowd to violence. Their shouts amounted to: "C'mon, let's have some excitement. How about rolling a car? You're on TV!” The crowds became a mob; windows were broken, cars were damaged, and citizens were terrorized.
On the other hand, television can respond responsibly and in the public interest to prevent the eruption of a riot. For example, on
May 7, 1966, less than a year after the Watts riot, Leonard Deadwyler was killed by a policeman's bullet after a 5-mile high-speed pursuit through residential and commercial Los Angeles streets. One officer had approached the curbed Deadwyler car on the right side. He reached across the woman passenger in the front seat and pointed his gun toward the driver. The car had not come to a full stop. It lurched forward. The officer's feet left the ground, the gun went off, and the driver was fatally shot through the chest.
It turned out later that Mrs. Deadwyler, the passenger in the front seat, was pregnant and had said she was in labor and was being taken that night to the hospital. A white handkerchief had been tied to the automobile's radio antenna. Its purpose-according to later statements—was to alert others to the emergency nature of the trip.
The Deadwylers were Negroes. The officer was white. I might add, too, Mr. Deadwyler was intoxicated, with a blood alcohol reading of .35, and his driving at speeds of 70, 80, 90 miles an hour through commercial and residential areas obviously suggested to the officer that he was chasing more than just a speeding driver. So the officer was alert to every possibility when he arrived at the car. I might say also Mrs. Deadwyler did not give birth for 212 months. She was not in labor that night.
In any event, almost immediately after the tragedy, from Watts and other communities largely inhabited by Negroes, there were charges of police brutality, of "legalized murder” by officers, and similar allegations. A tense and sometimes bitter atmosphere spread through many Los Angeles neighborhoods.
It was at this time, when tension was great and suspicion and resentment were increasing steadily and swiftly, that a coroner's inquest was about to start. The largest courtroom available could not accommodate more than 300. Many of those who could not get in muttered angrily that they were kept out deliberately and that the whole procedure was “rigged.”
Inside, the packed courtroom was equally noisy, the atmosphere equally bitter, and when sheriff's deputies tried to clear the aisles they were greeted with jeers. The inquest was delayed. It was impossible to get started that day.
At this point, representatives of KTLA-TV in Los Angeles decided it would be a good thing if all persons—those in the courthouse and others at home could see and hear the inquest. This station offered to take all conflicting daytime programs off the air and carry every minute of the sessions, no matter how long they went on. The coroner agreed to this proposal, and live coverage started.
As each day passed, tempers in the community cooled, and crowds in the courtroom grew smaller. Eventually, there were vacant seats in the courtroom at all times. Several million persons were home watching the inquest from the calm and comfort of their living rooms.
When the last session was over and the jury came in, the community accepted without excitement the verdict that the death was accidental, and the officer should not be prosecuted.
The inquest lasted 8 days. KTLA cameras and newscaster George Putnam covered the proceedings with a high degree of skill that made a tremendous contribution to public understanding. It enabled the citizens to see the machinery of justice in action, and it explained the
processes, so nobody could successfully argue that any facts were suppressed.
Mr. McNAMARA. Mr. Younger, what, in your opinion, are some of the basic factors in the creation of a potential riot situation?
Mr. YOUNGER. Again, now talking about a full-blown riot, as opposed to demonstrations, civil disobedience, and so forth, there are, in my opinion, four indispensable conditions which must exist in a community before a full-blown riot can occur.
First, hot, humid weather. In recent years there has never been a successful riot in a snowstorm, or a heavy rainstorm is also bad.
Second, there must exist a disadvantaged minority, a group that has been mistreated by the majority-in ways ranging from polite discrimination to physical abuse—for a substantial period of time. Any kind of minority will do, but historically most major riots have involved religious, ethnic, or racial minorites.
Often throughout our history this condition has existed to a substantial degree for example, during the early period, when the Irish were the favorite target of the majority, and later when the ItalianAmericans in the East and the orientals in California took the brunt.
There has never been a period in our history, however, when this condition existed to the degree that it exists today. Unlike the Irish and Italians, the Negro did not come to this country voluntarily, so his resentment against mistreatment is logically greater. Also, the Negro, though a free American for over 100 years, has been the target of discrimination and prejudice during this entire time-a more than adequate period. Also, fortunately or unfortunately, the Negro looks "different" and is easy to identify.
Then, too, the Negro minority is just the right size. Five percent is adequate; 10 percent is ideal for riot purposes. The Negro comprises 11 percent of our population.
Third, tension must exist betwen the races. If this tension reaches the level of hysteria, as it has in some cities in this country, then the riot climate is ideal.
Speaking of tension, we cannot be surprised when we hear the Powells, Carmichaels, and Rap Browns cry, "Blood will flow !" "Riots are essential !” “Go get your guns !" et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But we must be amazed to see the help these extremists get from some supposedly reasonable people.
For example, I recent heard a self-proclaimed civil rights leader in my community say that unless a certain number of jobs were created immediately and given to persons without regard to skill or qualifications, there would certainly be another Watts. When I accused him of inviting trouble, he was highly incensed and claimed he was just reporting the “facts.”
It has become standard operating procedure for a city, county, State, or Federal legislator or administrator who wants to dip into the pork barrel and get millions of dollars poured into his district under some poorly planned and potentially useless project to urge passage on the basis that it is essential to prevent a riot.
Recently, the Republican Coordinating Committee in Washington accused the President of playing politics and refusing to act to prevent a riot in Detroit, and Lyndon Johnson, understandably irritated, forgot that a President is supposed to rise above this sort of thing and responded by blaming Governor Romney for not stopping the riot there. On the same day, Senator McClellan blamed the Supreme Court for “creating an atmosphere in which riots flourish.” A few days later, Governor Romney, in a most intemperate statement, accused President Johnson of lying. These are examples of tensioncreating incidents occurring at the highest governmental level.
Fourth, there must be the widespread disobedience of, and lack of respect for, law and order, which I mentioned earlier.
When these "conditions” exist in sufficient degree, a riot will start. Some Communists and extremists claim credit for starting certain of the recent riots, but they are just bragging. The fact is, all the recent riots have started accidentally, triggered by some explainable incident.
The incident usually, but not always, involves a confrontation between a Negro and a white policeman; but in Hartford, Connecticut, a fight between two Negroes was sufficient. The rumor following the incident has normally been more important than the incident.
In Watts, the rumor that the police were beating a pregnant Negro woman-who was not pregnant and was not beaten-started the riot.
In Newark, a Negro taxi driver was arrested for a traffic violation, but the false rumor that he had been killed by a white policeman triggered the riot.
Normally, after the incident, the rumor follows; the crowd gathers following the rumor; then, if someone starts throwing rocks and breaking windows—and so far, someone always has—the riot starts.
Mr. McNAMARA. Generally speaking, Mr. Younger, what kind of people, from your observation, take part in riots, and what percentage of a community do these people usually comprise ?
Mr. YOUNGER. In recent riots involving Negroes, rarely have more than 5 to 10 percent of the Negroes in the community actively supported or participated in the riots. The responsible Negroes—the other 90 to 95 percent—are the big losers in any riot and they are understandably more frightened by and critical of those who participate in the riots than are members of the white community.
The riot-prone group—the 5 to 10 percent who get involved-breaks down as follows: a very small percentage are the extremists, the haters, those whose feelings against “Whitey” are deep and violent. They are blinded by rage. They will burn nine Negro dwellings to get one owned by a white man. They claim, and possibly believe, that by promoting violence they promote the welfare of the Negro. Actually, and unfortunately, this conviction is strengthened by the fact that, after a riot in a particular city, we move in, spend massive amounts of money, and try to do things we should have done 50 years ago.
Most of those in this group are young and they are psychotic. Each is a potential killer. These are the bombers and snipers. These are the ones who give the killing of policemen and firemen top priority in any riot. This group of extremists is very small, but seems to be growing steadily.
White extremists have not been actively involved in any recent major riot. It has been rumored, however, that white extremists have given financial support to black extremists. I have seen no confirmation of this rumor, but there is considerable logic behind it. For example, if I were the head of a white extremist group held together by hatred of the Negro and had some money in the treasury, I would
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give that money to some militant revolutionist like Rap Brown or Stokely Carmichael, who preaches hate, violence, and rebellion and who, for some reason I will never understand, manages to get massive attention in the media, far out of proportion to his importance. I cannot imagine a more effective way to slow the progress of the Negro.
In addition to the haters, you have a small percentage of political extremists and agitators-principally Communists—involved in every riot. These people want riots to occur for political reasons. You also have a small percentage of professional or confirmed criminals—mostly thieves—who want riots to occur because they can operate at maximum speed with minimum risk in a riot. For example, I recall one professional burglar who had a ball during the Watts riots. As soon as things really got going, he backed a moving van up to the rear door of an appliance store and cleaned out the store. He got as far east as Kansas City, driving his van full of stoves, TV sets, and refrigerators, before he was caught.
These racists, haters, political extremists, and agitators and the confirmed criminals are the real villains. They are criminals in the truest sense. They are dangerous. They comprise at most 20 percent of the participants in any modern American riot. They probably are strong enough to start a riot, but they have not started one yet—they have not found it necessary. Enough riots start accidentally to keep any extremist or criminal reasonably happy.
Certainly, after a riot starts, this group moves in fast and pours fuel on the flames and tries to make the riot as bloody, as damaging, and as extensive as possible. The fact is, though, that while this 20 percent could probably start a riot, they cannot sustain it. Only the remaining 80 percent of the 5 to 10 percent can sustain a riot, make it last anywhere from 24 hours to a week.
Mr. Tuck. Mr. Younger, will you suspend? We have a call for a vote. We will be right back.
Mr. McNAMARA. There will be a recess just long enough for the members to go over to the floor and return.
(A brief recess was taken.)
(The subcommittee reconvened with Representatives Tuck and Watson present.)
Mr. Tuck. The subcommittee will come to order.
Mr. McNAMARA. Mr. Younger, I believe you were answering the question of the type person who usually becomes involved in a riot at the time the committee recessed. Would you care to complete your answer?
Mr. YOUNGER. Yes. I referred to the haters, the extremists, the political agitators, the Communists, the professional criminals. These people all put together represent only about 20 percent of the persons involved in a riot. That leaves the 80 percent.
Now, this 80 percent of these people in this group are not sufficiently stable or responsible to be part of the 90 to 95 percent of the Negro
not confirmed criminals. They are not basically bad. We might characterize them as junior-grade criminals. They are the looters, the burners, and the rock throwers. They are the backbone of any riot. Most of them have been previously arrested, but that is not significant—the fact that a Negro in a slum area has been arrested does not