Bud Billiken Parade organizers concerned over coverage of violence

Organizers of the Bud Billiken Parade raised concern Sunday over how the media covered the violence at the otherwise peaceful celebration.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
No charges have been filed in Saturday's shooting at the Bud Billiken Parade that wounded two teenagers, but the event's organizers raised concern Sunday over how the media covered the violence at the otherwise peaceful celebration.

Parade organizers say that there were dozens of floats, performers and marching bands that should have been highlighted, but were not, simply because the Chicago media chose to focus on the violence and not the best of the parade.

"I think this idea that of if bleeds it leads could use a little bit of tweaking," said Bud Billiken Parade Director Beverly Reed Scott.

Reed Scott expressed her disappointment over how the media covered the shooting at Saturday's parade.

"The shooting was one tenth of one percent of what occurred (Saturday)," she said. "Ninety-nine and nine-tenths of the Bud Billiken Parade was the most awesome spectacle I have seen this year."

Reed Scott made her comments just feet from where an 18-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy were shot and wounded while standing near 42nd and King Drive, adjacent to parade route for the 85th annual event organized by the Chicago Defender Charities.

"A shooting that happened just took the spotlight away from these kids," said Chantel House, Chicago Defender Charities. "They worked so hard all year for this."

The parade did continue despite the shooting, which was the first in the events history. Organizers say local media coverage chose to focus on the violence and not positives, like the celebration of education, or that hundreds of thousands came to the parade, which saw its largest turnout in the last five years.

"It's almost like you've got to be the change you want to see, so if you guys expect them to be a certain type of way, show them that that's what they can be," said Parade Marshal Tracey Reed.

Others, including local rapper Carlton Johnson, say in today's culture, media influence is key especially when it comes to glorifying violence.

"If the cameras don't show it, there's no stars. Everybody want to be a star," Johnson said.

The parade, an African-American tradition in Chicago, is held each summer as a reminder to students it's almost time to head back to school. And Bronzeville resident Karen DeGrasse hopes it can stay that way.

"If my kids aren't proud of the area that they live in, then they're not as proud to be who they are and where they're from," she said.

Organizers said that they don't think the violence will taint the sanctity of the parade. They also say that families will continue to make the parade a part of their tradition.

Police say there is nobody in custody and no arrests have been made in connection with the shooting.

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