In the eyes of the general market media Latino cultural events are not perceived as safe. This became painfully evident yet again with the shocking headline in the “Briefs” section of The Denver Post on Monday, May 7, 2018 that read, “One Arrested After Shots Fired at Cinco”. There’s only one problem, THERE WERE NO SHOTS FIRED AT ANY CINCO!
There wasn’t any gun play at any Cinco de Mayo related activities on May 5, 2018. There was however, a shooting in southwest Denver, no one was hurt, one arrest took place and that is the end of the story. The problem here is that the average news reader just looks at headlines. The Washingotn Post released a report about an actual study concerning this very issue in 2014. I encourage you to google it.
This kind of reporting is not something new in brown and black communities. The media does a fabulous job connecting any unrelated violent activity happening anywhere in the City to cultural events that might be taking place that day, especially the Cinco de Mayo Festival. We have seen this kind of unfair and frankly racist reporting method far too often for far too long. The negative media attention doesn’t even have to be related to gun violence. Remember the swine flu or better yet the sensationalized media pandemic surrounding swine flu? Guess who was asked to make a public address about it and lost onsite presence of a media sponsor? That’s right the Cinco de Mayo Festival. After all being around Latinos at an open-air event couldn’t possibly be safe but going to an indoor sporting event or any other event for that matter is just fine during a virus outbreak. One particularly ambitious reporter frothing at the mouth for any kind of salacious quote I could provide her on how our event was preparing for Swine Flu was down-right appalled when I accused her of racially biased reporting. Think I’m being dramatic? How about the Boston Marathon bombing? Literally hours after this tragedy guess who the media turned to for the “local angle” on event safety? That would be the Cinco de Mayo again, with the underlying insinuation that the event wasn’t safe enough.
A few weeks ago, Denver’s Mayor proclaimed that protecting institutions like The Denver Post is important to our Democracy. I would agree, but only if that truly means unbiased reporting for all communities. Unfortunately, it seems we are still a long way from that ever happening. Especially when newsrooms continue to be predominately white. The report about the “Cinco Shooting” is a perfect example and explanation for why so many people perceive the event as having an unrelenting reputation for being violent when it is not. In fact, it experiences no more violence than any other large-scale Civic Center Park event but in the media’s eye the Cinco is the exception. It’s a shame because, while sensationalism and racially biased reporting helps sell papers, it’s an instrument that keeps all of us perpetually divided.