Interesting — I can see it, though it’s disappointing. I’m not sure why you would do all the research necessary to tell the story, and not do research on the characters involved. At least enough to imagine their internal lives.
Having said that, it fits with other Bigelow’s films that I’ve seen. I didn’t get all that into The Hurt Locker. I liked Zero Dark Thirty, but I can’t say that it was because I connected with the character, so much as the re-telling of events.
It’s not as if the internal and political lives of race rioters isn’t knowable. There have been plenty of films about it (Do the Right Thing), and listening to any hip-hop from the early 90’s will give you a sense of it (Ice Cube, 2Pac, etc…). I don’t know about this particular incident, but it’s something that could have easily been found out.