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LA Times executive editor during roundtable: 'Looting' has a ​'racist connotation'


Another panelist said 'riot' does, too

Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for IWMF

Los Angeles Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine recently claimed that the term "looting" has a "racist connotation" and should not be used to describe the behavior taking place in many communities in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Pearlstine made the comments during a PBS Newshour roundtable on Tuesday, which featured a discussion on "the differences in the experiences of black journalists as contrasted with their colleagues."

During the discussion, Pearlstine said that "one of the active debates we had over the past week was about the use of the word 'looting' to describe the destruction of the property" at times occurring alongside peaceful protests.

He added, "The feeling among the black journalists at The Los Angeles Times, who frankly educated the rest of us that 'looting' had a pejorative, racist connotation, and that comparing it to the kind of behavior of the police and the kind of behavior that we witnessed really was a false equivalency and yet it was one that we were making as journalists if you picked up a copy of our paper."

Another panelist, Dorothy Tucker, who serves as the president of the National Association of Black Journalists, chimed in and suggested that the term "riot" is also racist.

"There is concern that it is automatically labeled as a riot if it is African Americans who are protesting, but it's not labeled as a riot if you see the same kind of destruction after a concert or sporting event," Tucker said.

The two did not, however, go into detail about how else they would describe certain activities that have taken place in several cities in recent weeks.

Perhaps they would prefer to say: "The stealing of goods during a large uproar." Though, "looting during a riot" seems easier and clearer.

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