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Media Coverage of Oregon Militia Sparks Hashtags: “#YallQaeda,”“#VanillaISIS”

HeadlineJan 04, 2016

Media coverage that described the armed militia members as “peaceful” protesters has sparked ire. The Associated Press ran the initial headline: “Peaceful Protest Followed by Oregon Wildlife Refuge Action”; they later removed the word “peaceful.” Meanwhile, CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick said the militants were being treated differently than Black Lives Matter protesters because “they’re not looting anything.” Roderick made the remarks in an interview with CNN host Brian Stelter.

Brian Stelter: “You know it’s going to become politicized. And we’ve already heard from activists online, many of them—I’ve been reading from them all morning—who say if these were Black Lives Matter protesters, or if these were peaceful Muslim Americans, they’d be treated very differently by law enforcement. Do you think there’s truth to that argument?”

Art Roderick: “We’re not talking about—I think you had mentioned it in the opening, because this is a very rural area. It is out in the middle of nowhere. What are they actually doing? They’re not destroying property. They’re not looting anything.”

Brian Stelter: “Yeah, no shots fired.”

Art Roderick: “Right, exactly.”

On social media, many have called for the authorities and media to label the militants as “terrorists.” Critics have used the satirical hashtags “#YallQaeda” and “#VanillaISIS” to call attention to what they see as deferential treatment afforded to the militia members because they are white.

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