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An MSNBC journalist was mocked for downplaying the violent Minnesota protests while reporting live in front of a burning building.
MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi insisted that the violence that has erupted in Minneapolis in response to the death of George Floyd while under police custody is “mostly a protest,” claiming the demonstrators have not been “unruly” even while a building burned out of control behind his live report on Thursday.
“For most of the day, today, it looked a lot calmer than yesterday looked,” Velshi told anchor Brian Williams in the MSNBC studio on Thursday, despite the fact that the unrest had escalated and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz had activated the National Guard.
“And that’s what happened yesterday. It picked up later in the evening. The crowds gathered here and the standoff with the police looked very different last night,” Velshi continued, describing scenes of protest as demonstrators have vented their frustration over the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man who died while in police custody.
Outrage and anger followed his death after video showed how he pleaded multiple times that he could not breathe as a white police office knelt on his neck during an arrest on Monday. The victim died and all four officers involved in the arrest were fired on Tuesday.
The incident set off ongoing protests, and rioters trashed their own city, looting and setting fires to businesses. Thursday’s unrest spilled over to police stations as reports that multiple Minneapolis precincts were abandoned by officers as they were vandalized and set afire.
Velshi noted that the 3rd Precinct police department, which was evacuated earlier, had been set ablaze and noted several other fires in the vicinity of his report. But even with the surreal backdrop, the MSNBC correspondent characterized the scene as not “unruly.”
“I want to be clear on how I characterize this,” he told Williams.
“This is mostly a protest. It is not, generally speaking, unruly but fires have been started and this crowd is relishing that,” he said.
“There is a deep sense of grievance and complaint here, and that is the thing. That when you discount people who are doing things to public property that they shouldn’t be doing, it does have to be understood that this city has got, for the last several years, an issue with police, and it’s got a real sense of the deep sense of grievance of inequality,” Velshi added.
The ridiculous take caused swift reaction on social media.
MSNBC reporter just now: “I want to be clear on how I characterize this. This is mostly a protest. It is not generally speaking unruly.”
The guy is literally standing in front of a burning building in the middle of a riot. pic.twitter.com/IzCV6On4sF
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) May 29, 2020
Velshi also informed Williams that there was no national guard presence where he was reporting from, adding: “No authority whatsoever has control over this area. The people have control over this area.”
“For all those people that are hearing that the National Guard has been activated…that is not happening right now,” @AliVelshi reports from protests in Minneapolis. “No authority whatsoever has control over this area. The people have control over this area.” pic.twitter.com/OIvzCjDUIw
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) May 29, 2020
Twitter users mocked Velshi’s downplaying of the violent scenes.
It’s like I’m living in a South Park Episode.
— Grobe Molumbo (@grobemolumbo) May 29, 2020
It’s a peaceful fire though. They’re making smores.
— Jessica Fletcher (@heckyessica) May 29, 2020
Live look at MSNBC pic.twitter.com/xyfT2IVHr2
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) May 29, 2020
MSNBC reporter on D-Day: “I want to be clear on how I characterize this. This is mostly a beach party. It is not generally speaking unruly.”
— Cynical Publius (@CynicalPublius) May 29, 2020
— puddleduck (@mudhoney06) May 29, 2020
— Savage Prime (@mcballz) May 29, 2020
Twitter might need to fact check @MSNBC coverage of the Peaceful Protest.
— ♠ Reggin Wej ♠ (@wej_the) May 29, 2020
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