The Discovery Channel is spreading dangerous myths and racial stereotypes using sensationalized police footage to depict crimes of poverty. A recent show aired on The Discovery Channel, titled, “Gang Wars: Oakland,” provides sensationalized misinformation on the minority community in Oakland. The show contained brutal action scenes of Oakland Police Officers raiding houses, chasing down gang members, and making drug busts. The show shows this taking place in predominately Black and Latino areas of Oakland, while most of the police officers on the show are white males.
The show even gives a false message stating that the city has over 10,000 gang members in the city. The 10,000 number has been openly refuted by acting Oakland Police Chief.
The show displayed a method of brutal over-policing of the area. Community activist Olis Simmons stated, “the police can’t make the city safe without a partnership with the community and that cannot happen as long as the community feels it is being infiltrated.” The show could have displayed and promoted things like youth and community outreach, but instead choose to present a fear-based racist depiction of young black and latino people in Oakland.
Title: Discovery Channel’s ‘Gang Wars: Oakland’ Series Spreads All the Wrong Messages About Poverty and Minorities
Source: Alternet.org, 9/22/2009
Author: Amiee Allison
Student Researcher: Garret West
Faculty Evaluator: Sheila Katz Ph.D.
Sonoma State University: Sociology of Media, Fall 2009
Instructor: Peter Phillips, #18