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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson Protests: CNN's Don Lemon Smells Marijuana In The Air, "Obviously"

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 1:50 PM

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What does dissent in America smell like? Tear gas, burning stores and police cars, and "obviously" marijuana.

Not much good happened in Ferguson, Missouri last night after a Grand Jury decided against filing charges against a white officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teen back in August.

There was the bizarre spectacle of the announcement coming at prime riot hour of 8:30 p.m. local time — followed shortly by limp-wristed pleas for bitter protesters to remain at peace. And then, as Americans tried to process the news, they watched scenes of television reporters coughing through clouds of tear gas while covering the chaos. 

And then there was CNN's Don Lemon who felt the need to tell millions of cable viewers that, in addition to racial animus, fear of a police state and legitimate questions of justice, there was marijuana in the air in Ferguson... "obviously."


CNN's broadcast was on Lemon at 7:06 p.m. Pacific Time when the announcement that the grand jury found no grounds to indict Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Mike Brown's death. No tear gas had yet been fired, no fires had been set.

So describing the situation around him, Lemon saw fit to add, in addition to descriptions of protesters on cars, people shouting and a general sense of anger, that there was "obviously the scent of marijuana in the air."

Twitter as well as media critics today are taking Lemon to task for the bizarre and inappropriate non sequitur.

Reactions from the public were incredulous and mocking.
Though for context and outrage, we turn to hip hop mogul Russell Simmons.
As one of the few black men in a prominent media position in America, Lemon was in a unique position to describe the scene around him. We would have benefited from hearing his take as a black man, as a professionally trained observer, as a bystander surrounded by angry chaos and confusion.

But instead, we're now distracted by this unnecessary aside. What's did he want views to take away from the broadcast? That "obviously" angry black people smoke marijuana? That "obviously" anytime there's questioners of the system that they must be stoned?

At best, this is absurd, and at worst, it's offensive and troubling. Just like everything else from Ferguson.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

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