Brutal, child abusing cop at Texas pool party resigns, should be charged

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Prosecute former Officer Eric Casebolt!

by ColorofChange

The people of McKinney, like Black youth all over the country, are taking the freedom fighters of Ferguson, Missouri, as their model. – Photo: Elroy Johnson
The people of McKinney, like Black youth all over the country, are taking the freedom fighters of Ferguson, Missouri, as their model. – Photo: Elroy Johnson

After more than 80,000 ColorOfChange members took action demanding that local officials fire McKinney Police Officer Casebolt, he resigned. It’s an important step in the right direction, but not enough to hold Casebolt accountable or shift the discriminatory and violent culture of policing that has allowed him to brutalize Black youth and adults for years.

Now, we must escalate our calls for District Attorney Greg Willis to prosecute Officer Casebolt to the fullest extent of the law. Unless violent and discriminatory officers face criminal charges, they will continue to target and harm Black communities. Police accountability is critical for transforming deeply entrenched policing culture that says it’s OK to racially profile and brutalize Black folks.

Dajerria Becton and her friends who went to Craig Ranch Pool last Friday to celebrate the end of the school year were not Officer Casebolt’s first victims. In 2008, Albert Earl Brown Jr. filed a federal lawsuit against Officer Casebolt after he yanked down Albert’s pants on the side of the road, groped his “private parts,” and allowed a fellow officer to slam Albert’s head on the hood of his car.

Sign the petition, “District Attorney Willis: Charge Officer Casebolt!” at http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/charge-officer-eric-casebolt/?source=coc_website.

National Bar Association demands the immediate termination of the McKinney police officers involved in the June 5 incident at Craig Ranch North Community Pool

On June 5, 2015, police were called to Craig Ranch North Community Pool in McKinney, Texas, around 7:15 p.m. local time to respond to a disturbance. Upon arrival, officers begin chasing every African American child they saw and threw some of them to the ground or ordered them to sit down or lie down in the grass.

According to a police spokeswoman Sabrina Boston, the incident involved “multiple juveniles at the location, who do not live in the area or have permission to be there, refusing to leave.” She said additional units were dispatched after the first officers to arrive “encountered a large crowd that refused to comply with police commands.”

On Monday, June 8, McKinney, Texas, turned out to demand justice, which, according to this little girl, is God’s will. – Photo: Elroy Johnson
On Monday, June 8, McKinney, Texas, turned out to demand justice, which, according to this little girl, is God’s will. – Photo: Elroy Johnson

However, the video shows many children were leaving the scene and no disturbance was being caused when the officers arrived. There is no law that restricts African American children to only going to a public pool in the area in which they live.

There is no evidence this pool required you to live in the housing development in order to swim at the pool. At most semi-private pools residents are allowed invited guests as long as the resident of the housing development is present.

The officers were clearly not aware of whether the African American children lived in the housing development or not. At this stage, proper police procedure would require the officers to either seek to disperse the teenagers by instructing them to go home or to conduct individual inquiries as to whether they live in the area or not.

These officers and particularly Officer Casebolt conducted anything but a fair and professional police investigation. A review of the seven-minute YouTube video shows Officer Eric Casebolt engaging in aggressive, unprofessional, out of control behavior towards these African American teenagers.

Most of the teenagers are in bathing suits and flip-flops, holding only a single towel. The teenagers were all unarmed and posed no physical threat to the officers.

The YouTube video clip shows the McKinney police officers conversing with white teenagers in a calm respectful manner as they freely walked around the officers, and the officers are not harassing them or throwing them to the ground.

In contrast, Officer Casebolt used profanity and aggressively threw Dajerria Becton, a 14-year-old girl in a bikini bathing suit, to the ground, face-down. He then appears to pin her down with his knees as she is heard crying out for her mother. The girl is obviously in distress and not in any manner moving or attempting to get away from the officer. She posed no physical threat to the officer.

The officer at one point even pulls out his firearm and brandishes it at two male teens. When a small African American boy asks the officer for assistance locating his bag and attempts to explain that he was not involved, the officer states that is not his problem and is extremely aggressive, rude and dismissive.

The National Bar Association is demanding a full investigation and the termination of all officers involved. Casebolt has resigned, but resignation does not undo the harm or deter further offenses by him and others. He must be prosecuted.

“This could be my child – or your child. If we are not going to protect the children from overly aggressive and violent police officers, our future is lost. The National Bar Association will not sit by and watch our children be terrorized by officers, because if we do, my son may very well be next,” said National Bar Association President Pamela Meanes.

President Meanes is calling on all civil rights organizations, civil and professional organizations, labor organizations, members of the National Bar Association, college and high school students, and concerned parents and citizens to join her and the National Bar Association on Wednesday, June 10, at 12:00 p.m., in front of the McKinney Police Department, located at 2200 Taylor-Burke Drive, McKinney, Texas 75071.

Founded in 1925, the National Bar Association is celebrating 90 years as the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys, judges and law professors. With more than 60,000 members, the NBA is organized around 23 substantive law sections, nine divisions, 12 regions and 80 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and around the world. For more information, visit www.nationalbar.org. Bay View staff contributed to this story.

Hundreds of protesters chant ‘Let’s go swimming’ at site of Texas pool party

by Lilly Workneh

Hundreds of demonstrators descended in McKinney, Texas, on Monday – just two days after a video that captured a police officer’s use of force against a Black female teenager went viral. Elroy Johnson, a 25-year-old teacher who grew up in the neighborhood, told The Huffington Post that he couldn’t recall the last time he witnessed a protest that large in his town.

The crowd gathered near the Craig Ranch Community Pool – the same site where 19-year-old Tatiana Rhodes’ now-infamous pool party was held last Friday. The teen’s party, which was chaperoned by her mother, Laushana Burks, was meant to celebrate the beginning of summer.

Burks told HuffPost that, instead, the gathering ended with violence after two white women made racist comments to a group of Black teens and subsequently attacked them. Community members rallied in the neighborhood to speak out against the racist actions of the two women who apparently made comments like “You Black f****r” and “That’s why you live in Section 8 homes.”

Demonstrators also called for the firing of a police officer who was captured on video manhandling a young Black girl and wielding his gun at two Black teenage boys who tried to help her. “A number of community members made it known they were upset about what happened at the pool party on Friday,” Johnson said.

“Seeing all of that action was definitely amazing.” Johnson, who is an aspiring photojournalist, captured footage and photos from Monday’s protests that show a diverse crowd uniting to denounce racism and police brutality. His YouTube videos from the event and social media posts capture emotional reactions from residents.

Police initially arrived at the scene on Friday in response to a disturbance “involving multiple juveniles at the location, who do not live in the area or have permission to be there, refusing to leave,” the police department wrote in a Facebook post.

However, Rhodes told Johnson on camera that the students she invited were local residents. Rhodes said officers singled out Black teen partygoers and detained them for further questioning, even arresting some. Video footage shows one officer, who has been identified as patrol supervisor Cpl. Eric Casebolt, aggressively yelling at and using physical force against Black teens.

Though McKinney is a small town, the crowd that turned out Monday was huge. – Photo: Elroy Johnson
Though McKinney is a small town, the crowd that turned out Monday was huge. – Photo: Elroy Johnson

One disturbing moment of the video shows Casebolt sitting atop Dajerria Becton, a 14-year-old Black girl, as she cries out for her mother.

The video has been viewed more than 9 million times and both the McKinney community and the African American community at large are outraged over the officer’s actions. Members of local activist groups, residents, community leaders and many of the teens from Friday’s party gathered near the pool on Monday to speak out against Casebolt’s actions and make a series of demands.

Demonstrators not only called for Casebolt to be fired but they also urged for charges against the white women who initiated the incident. They also demanded overall better training among officers of the police department.

“It was an overwhelming feeling that gave you the sense that although you may be a minority, you’re not alone,” Johnson said.

At one point, protesters sat in the middle of the street deliberately blocking traffic as they chanted, “If we can’t swim, you can’t drive!”

Throughout other portions of the march, crowds yelled “Let’s go swimming!” – an activity Black partygoers were denied on Friday. Others held signs that read “Protect our youth!” and “My skin color is not a crime.”

View scenes from the protest here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/09/texas-pool-party-protest_n_7544766.html.

Lilly Workneh, Black Voices editor for The Huffington Post, can be reached at lilly.workneh@huffingtonpost.com. This story first appeared on Huffington Post.

Hosts of Texas pool party describe what happened moments before cops arrived

by Lilly Workneh and Julia Craven

Lashauna Burks said her daughter simply wanted to celebrate the end of the school year with her friends on Friday by hosting a party that promised food, fun and music. However, the gathering at the Craig Ranch Community Pool in McKinney, Texas, abruptly turned violent when two white women at a nearby pool began making racist comments at the Black teen partygoers.

When police officers arrived at the scene, chaos escalated as officers forced teens into handcuffs, with one officer holding a young woman to the ground and pulling a gun on a crowd of Black teen partygoers. Burks, who is Black, said she was the sole adult supervisor of her daughter’s event. She left momentarily to grab more materials for the party – and returned to chaos.

“When I left, a 14-year-old girl named Grace had gotten into an argument with two Caucasian women,” Burks told HuffPost on Monday. “My daughter came to me and said that the security guard told all the African American people to leave.”

Burks recounts the event in a video recorded by photojournalist and local resident Elroy Johnson and posted to YouTube Sunday evening. The video shows Burks and her 19-year-old daughter Tatiana Rhodes explaining the moments that led to the argument, which promptly became physical.

“This lady was saying racial slurs to some friends that came to the cookout … She was saying things such as ‘You Black f****r’ and ‘That’s why you live in Section 8 homes,’” Rhodes said. Grace Stone, a 14-year-old white girl who Rhodes said is a friend of her brother’s, immediately came to their defense and spoke out against the woman’s hateful words.

“[Grace] stuck up for us saying, ‘That’s not right. You shouldn’t do that. That’s racist,’” Rhodes said.

According to the Huffington Post story, “This Striking Image Flips The Narrative Around Black Women And Police Brutality On Its Head,” artist Markus Prime “felt a rush of anger followed by seeping frustration as he watched the viral video of patrol supervisor Cpl. Eric Casebolt’s blatantly disrespect a teenage girl, whose name is Dajerria Becton. … ‘This particular incident spoke to me because these things happen every day but this time it happened to a child.’ … Markus wanted to show what it would look like if a Black woman were awarded the kind of respect white men receive.”
According to the Huffington Post story, “This Striking Image Flips The Narrative Around Black Women And Police Brutality On Its Head,” artist Markus Prime “felt a rush of anger followed by seeping frustration as he watched the viral video of patrol supervisor Cpl. Eric Casebolt’s blatantly disrespect a teenage girl, whose name is Dajerria Becton. … ‘This particular incident spoke to me because these things happen every day but this time it happened to a child.’ … Markus wanted to show what it would look like if a Black woman were awarded the kind of respect white men receive.”

Rhodes details the exchange in the video, explaining that the women began “verbally abusing” Stone and used profanity. Rhodes interjected and told the women they shouldn’t say such hurtful words to a 14-year-old.

In response, Rhodes says the women told her to “go back where you’re from.” “I said, ‘Excuse me?’” Rhodes said.

It was then, she says, that one of the women approached her and hit her in the face. The other woman then joined the attack, Rhodes said. 

The incident was recorded by 15-year-old Miles Jai Thomas, who posted the video to his Twitter account. (That video is not publicly available.)

Cops were soon called to the scene in response to a disturbance “involving multiple juveniles at the location, who do not live in the area or have permission to be there, refusing to leave,” according to a police statement. However, Rhodes added that most of the teens who attended the party lived in the community.

A seven-minute video recorded at the scene (watch it at the top of this story) and posted to YouTube on Saturday, shows an officer who is seen yelling, chasing and handcuffing several Black teens. At one point, the officer, patrol supervisor Cpl. Eric Casebolt, aggressively forces one young girl face-down on the ground as he attempts to put her in handcuffs while she cries out for her mother.

Casebolt is also captured wielding his gun at teenagers as they tried to come to her aid. “A cop yelled, ‘Get those motherfuckers,’ and they chased (us) with guns out. That’s why in the video I started running,” Thomas told HuffPost. “I was scared because all I could think was, ‘Don’t shoot me.’” 

Burks said her daughter held the event as part of a social organization she created that promotes “positive women doing positive things for their community.” Their upcoming plans include volunteer events, homeless shelter visits and community outreach, Burks said.

Burks moved to McKinney, about 40 minutes from Dallas, from Chicago. She said one of the reasons she moved to the Texas town was to escape the violence that is all too common in Chicago. “I moved from one state to another state to try and keep my children safe,” Burks said.

“I moved from Chicago to allow them to grow up and be kids in a safe neighborhood and then they have to go through this.”

Burks said she chaperones all of her daughter’s events and that they have always gone smoothly and they have never been disruptive. “These kids know how to act. They are not rowdy, disrespectful kids,” she said. “I know all of them.”

“The worst thing was the cops. He (Casebolt) was ballistic. He shouldn’t have used that much force or aggression to the situation. He was unruly and outrageous.”

“My lesson from all of this is that Black lives do matter, we are human and we don’t deserved to be treated with disrespect,” Burks said.

Lilly Workneh, Black Voices Editor for The Huffington Post, can be reached at lilly.workneh@huffingtonpost.com. Julia Craven is a staff reporter for The Huffington Post. A recent graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, she enjoys writing articles that make 90 percent of Americans feel uncomfortable. She can be reached at julia.craven@huffingtonpost.com. This story first appeared on Huffington Post.

 

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