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MediaWatch: February 1989

Vol. Three No. 2

Overtown Overtures

How did other reporters explain what happened in Overtown that week? On January 18 NBC's Ed Rabel absolved the rioters: "Black leaders condemn the looting and arson, but a feeling permeates these poor neighborhoods that such violent activity results from years of frustration and uneven treatment."

Rabel’s rationalization continued: "Latins, able to speak Spanish and willing to work long hours at low wages in a Miami that is largely Hispanic now have overwhelmed blacks in the job market. Blacks continue to find themselves in the back of the bus."

But ABC's John Quinones saw the situation quite differently -- condemning it as criminal: "The violence is no longer just a civil rights protest, it's outright vandalism -- and many of the merchants in these communities are demanding tougher police action, like curfews and protection from the National Guard ...What began as a racial protest has erupted into a costly struggle on the streets and the black community stands to lose the most."