Video footage of a brawl featuring a group of drunken white men fighting on a Manhattan street on St. Patrick’s Day failed to draw any arrests or the kind of widespread condemnation that accompanied the video of Black teenage girls fighting in a Brooklyn McDonald’s. Many are using it as evidence of the racist double standard that pervades media and American society.
The reaction to the fighting girls has been dramatic, with commentary from elected officials like New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, arrests of the girls involved—including one 14-year-old who was taken off a plane in Atlanta as she tried to make her way to Jamaica—and racist and offensive commentary like that offered by Texas radio talk show host Michael Berry.
Berry called the girls “savages” and proceeded to give a pointed comparison between the behavior of Black people and the behavior of white people.
White people “don’t need to say white lives matter because white people don’t walk up to white people, put a gun to their head and blow them away,” he said. “White people don’t drive past the home of other white people and shoot into the window, knowing there are children inside. White people don’t walk into McDonald’s and 4, 5, 6, 10 of them and beat the snot out of them for minutes on end while everyone cheers and films it, World Star. You know why white lives matter? Because that’s what white people believe. The dirty little secret is Black people don’t believe that Black lives matter.”
What happened outside of O’Brien’s Pub on 46th Street in Manhattan not only showed the ridiculous folly of Berry’s words, but it was just as worthy of condemnation and arrests. That’s certainly what the man who recorded the video believes. Anthony Rooar Decarlis, a 31-year-old artist, told the Huffington Post that he saw the fight erupt when he was out with a friend, so he started recording.
“There were three different fights,” he said. “One guy got hit with a bottle, one guy fell to the ground and got kicked in the face.”
Decarlis said one of the men appeared to be knocked unconscious and his eye was “swollen up to the size of a grapefruit.”
“People were trying to see if he had a pulse,” he said.
Mayor de Blasio castigated the public for not stepping in to stop the fight between the teenage girls in the Brooklyn McDonald’s.
“You don’t have someone be hurt in front of you and do nothing about it,” the mayor said about the Brooklyn incident. “It is not acceptable.”
But Decarlis said he wasn’t about to get involved in the fight outside O’Brien’s.
“I’m not gonna put my safety in jeopardy for a bunch of intoxicated frat boys,” said Decarlis, who is Black.
Decarlis did call 911, as did other onlookers. He left the scene before the police arrived, but the Huffington Post discovered that no one was arrested. The video has been viewed more than 350,000 times, but that’s where it has ended.
Decarlis himself made the comparison between the girls fighting in the McDonald’s.
“I feel like the media is trying to show African-Americans in such a negative light,” he said. “There should be public outrage” over the St. Patrick’s day fight as well.
“Why was the McDonald’s fight really a national news story?” journalist Andrew Padilla said to the Huffington Post. “Plenty of white-on-white violence on St. Patrick’s Day that was somehow not news.”
“What if the media were to spend the day after St. Patrick’s Day talking about white-on-white violence?” he continued. “Shaming the parents of drunken revelers, asking what is it that makes the white community so violent?”
It is just another example of how the media and many whites try to use events involving African-Americans as further evidence of the American narrative of hyper-violent Black people—a narrative that has been used over the centuries to justify everything from lynchings to Jim Crow to the massive incarceration of millions of Black men and women.
But when a group of white boys get drunk and trash a college campus during a pumpkin festival or after a football game or after getting cross-eyed drunk during St. Paddy’s Day, then it’s just boys being boys. Harmless fun. Even if somebody’s knocked unconscious.
The hypocrisy is so obvious, so profound—but not surprising.