Panel discusses views of L.A. riots


“Birth of a Nation 4-29-92”, a videotape designed to give an unedited hardcore view of the L.A. riots, was the subject of a panel discussion held Tuesday.

Former NIU student Demitricus Carlvin dedicated the video and discussion to Whoopi Goldberg. Carlvin said the video was intended to give people a view that would not be seen on CNN, and this was probably the first time anyone in Illinois had seen the video.

Carlvin went on to pose a question to the audience: Why was it a riot and not a rebellion? He compared the riots to the American Revolution and asked why what happened then was a revolution and now it’s considered a riot.

The video began with quotes from rappers, including Ice-T and Chuck D, expressing their views of the Rodney King verdict and the riots. Next the video went to the streets to get the views of the people.

One man in the video said the Ku Klux Klan was sending letters to the gangbangers, thanking them for killing so many of their own people. He went on to blame former President Reagan for the high percentage of African-Americans in prison and women on welfare.

Another man told the cameraman, “Every time someone talks about peace, we get a foot in our a—.” The man next to him said African-Americans are ready to be in power and once they have it, they aren’t going to treat Caucasians any better than Caucasians have treated African-Americans.

Ice Cube was quoted as saying “‘Til you tear some s—- up, people won’t listen.” The rest of the video showed the devastation of the riots, the Rodney King beating video and footage of Reginald Denny being beaten.

Carlvin, addressing something in the video, said gangbangers are now wearing black bandanas to link them to their African heritage. He also said there will be a gang conference led by Louis Farrakhan in Chicago.

Carlvin said people have been questioning whether this should take place in Chicago. He questioned why this convention shouldn’t take place in Chicago when the American Medical Association is allowed to hold their conventions there.

Panel members were Austin Triplett, second-year law student, Don-Terry Veal, a Ph. D. candidate for political science, Amahdi Bradley, president of the Black Student Union, Nolan Hendreson, president of B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. and Catherine Reeves.

Terry and Triplett said they agreed the video gave a different perspective to the riots, but Triplett said he felt it was slightly one-sided because it didn’t describe the events leading to the riots and it focused on the angry part of L.A.

Hendreson said he was interested in what led to the insurrection, and why it’s called an insurrection when people protest. But he added he liked the statement the video made: “This is reality.”

Bradley said the video showed what happens when people who have been oppressed for so long are pushed over the edge, and it showed people coming together.

Richard Baker, member of the NIU-NAACP, said he agreed with Bradley and compared the oppression African-Americans have experienced to being in a cage.

Baker said when African-Americans try to work with the system and it is ineffective, people are going to rebel. He pointed out that it is wrong to look at the rioters as hoodlums.

“They’re venting anger and it’s not wrong to vent anger,” Baker concluded.

Triplett said the things that happened in L.A. also affect African-Americans in DeKalb. He added that racism is prevalent everywhere; it just may not be as evident in DeKalb.

Triplett said, “Black people are black people all around the country. You can’t get up in the morning and look in the mirror and shrug off the commonality.”