Some people promised that African-Americans would riot if George Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter in the killing of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was acquitted, but the riots never came. That doesn't mean some folks have stopped looking for them—or making them up, apparently.
On Monday, this news was widely circulated: "RIGHT NOW! POLICE WITH RIOT GEAR ON SCENE IN LITTLE ROCK ARKANSAS AFTER POLCE OFFICER INVOLVED IN SHOOTING BY TRAYVON MARTIN PROTESTERS," @911BUFF tweeted Monday afternoon. "BREAKING NEWS OUT OF ARKANSAS: ONE DEAD IN OFFICER INVOLVED IN SHOOTING BY TRAYVON MARTIN PROTESTORS." The local news station had to respond. There was a shooting. But it was not a Trayvon Martin protest. There was no riot gear. "Note to national news outlets: shooting did not occur at #TrayvonMartin rally or protest," KARK 4 tweeted.
That follows some other fake Martin-related violence. Over the weekend, a video purporting to show Martin-related riots in Miami circulated. As BuzzFeed's Ellie Hall pointed out, they actually were hockey riots in Vancouver in 2011. The site Mr. Conservative posted a video under the headline, "Black Mob Beats Up White Guy Over Zimmerman Verdict – ON TAPE." This title over-promises on the graphic content. It also looks staged. A few black dudes are asked what they think of the Zimmerman verdict. "Did you hear about this recent verdict with Zimmerman…?" the white dude asked. A man cuts in, "Yeah yeah yeah. That was fucked up." A woman says off camera, "We don't like that shit!" A man says, "Yeah yeah yeah." Another man awkwardly waves his hands in the air while saying, "Zimmerman? He was guilty from the first day. He killed that little boy. He was un armed." Then he adds, in an unusual move for a wild-eyed rioter, "What do you think about it?" The white guy says, "He had a stand your ground law." Someone says, "Where was his standing ground?" Then another dude moves closer to the white guy and punches him in the upper chest area (still at right). No one bothers the cameraman, who's yelling, "No! No! Stop! Stop!"
For some reason, the post was taken down Monday afternoon, and the video was removed from YouTube.
You can understand why some people were looking for Martin riots. They were promised them. Rush Limbaugh suggested last week that police might even want black people to riot:
So what I'm wondering is we've got PSAs down there that law enforcement have sponsored and have broadcast on TV. As Vinny from Queens said, "An outreach to thuggery." And the PSAs are urging people not to riot in wake of the verdict. And obviously they're talking about the black population. They're hoping the black population doesn't riot. Course, are they really hoping that? I mean, like my old saw, you tell people, "Don't think pink," what are they thinking? Don't riot? You you put the idea in their head.
"If #Zimmerman is acquitted, black people will riot. If #Zimmerman is convicted, white people will grab a beer, change the channel to ESPN," conservative blogger Robert Stacy McCain tweeted before the verdict. "Might be a good idea for the electronic stores and shoe stores to close up shop," Fox News's Todd Starnes tweeted afterward. Embedded in this prediction is the idea that Zimmerman's actions were justified because black people are always a second away from irrational violence.