Covering the MLK Celebrations

Covering the MLK Celebrations
Image by Flickr user MLK Day of Service

 By Jonathan Luevanos Felix

Against the Status Quo

On Jan. 19, the Fresno Bee published an article that covered the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. The celebration that took place in downtown Fresno where many kinds of people joined to march for the occasion. The march started at City Hall and ended at the Fresno Memorial Auditorium where important leaders reclaimed MLK day and asked for justice in the killings of community members by police. Leaders also remembered Les Kimber, a former activist for racial equality and City Council member who died on Jan. 10.

The status quo of Fresno also celebrated the occasion and took part in a commemoration of American social and political culture. The interpretations of the occasion remain different, and social and political ideologies are ambiguous. However, the status quo can be identified.

The status quo consists of the police department, the sheriff, City Council members who lack initiative to act and, to a significant extent, persons in important political positions such as Ashley Swearengin. It also consists of the Fresno Bee, KMJ radio and news channels such as Univision, NBC, FOX, ABC and CBS.

The leaders of the community reflect and operate within a conservative and right-wing ideology. There is no surprise that the general will of Fresno concerning social, political and economic issues is predominantly conservative. Leaders in the community have the opportunity to take initiative to respond to devastations in the community but they do not take action. The Pereas, the City Council members and other Black and Brown local government office holders do nothing to help their people and instead join a conservative ideology. They instead contribute to the corruption of the city of Fresno concerning police shootings, violence and repression.


Problems with the Bee Article

In the article, the Bee portrays community leaders such as Jerry Dyer as positive or ethical role models for the community. Dyer, self-appointed “God’s minister of justice,” is seen hugging a child with seemingly full assurance that someone’s child, son or uncle will not be shot by the Fresno Police Department (FPD) any time soon.

One should note that Dyer does not, at the very least, care for Black and Brown people in Fresno. They are being shot carelessly by the police department.

The Bee portrays the protest or celebration of MLK’s legacy as something that, in principle, stands for nonviolence, peace or pacifism. The Bee portrays an ideal model for protesters and people who have recently caused insurrections at police brutality protests in the west side, east side and river park area of Fresno.


While the Bee explains that the true essence of the protest and movement was to show the essence of the legacy of peace and nonviolence, it also distinctively emphasizes Rev. Derrick Moss’s comment that the “marchers protesting police brutality took away from the commemoration.” Therefore, the essence or truth in the celebration was tainted. The Bee implies that police brutality protest is negative while peaceful, pacifist and nonviolent celebrations are accepted.

The status quo aims at maintaining a type of violent and repressive state in which people of color are left helpless against the arms of the police while painting a picture of justice and equality under the law. It also aims at maintaining protestors as peaceful, nonviolent, conformist, docile and submissive bodies. Protestors in Fresno are now being repressed. They are encouraged to be peaceful and conform to police authority and repression. The department has threatened protesters to maintain a peaceful protest under the law for any future uprisings and protests against police brutality.

No Justice, No Peace

Can one, then, blame protestors of police brutality for their uprisings? Can the police department blame the protestors? Can the Fresno Bee blame the protestors at the MLK March for “tainting” the essence of the celebration? Can one blame the protestors once one realizes the reality of the condition in Fresno for people of color who are subject to violence or repression in the hands of the Fresno police? What would Les Kimber say today about the subject of racial police violence and repression?

One cannot blame the protestors for protesting for a community without social or political refuge, a community without a voice or help, subject to violence and repression and a conservative ideology that serves the interests of the right-wing elite. The police department and God’s so-called minister of justice are at fault.

The news channels, radio stations and the Fresno Bee all share a common thing: a lack of an accounting of truth. They do not share the truth. They share a conservative ideology with Dyer, political leaders of the community, the City Council and the mayor. The city is serving the interests of the economically and politically elite, and the rest are left behind. One must tear the veil and uncover the truth.

While the Bee portrays Dyer in such a positive fashion, the facts are real and concrete. People of color in Fresno have continuously been subject to violence and repression by the police while Dyer has been chief. Dyer must be fired for the injustices that he has committed against the city of Fresno.



Jonathan Luevanos Felix can be contacted at



  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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