Officer of the Year Eric Casebolt’s brutality inspires courageous youth to fight back

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by Queenandi XSheba, PoorNewsNetwork

Birmingham Police Chief Bull Connor turned vicious police dogs and water hoses on children when their Children’s Crusade in May 1963 attempted for several days to march to City Hall to meet with the mayor. In September 1963, the brutal suppression culminated in the murder of the four little girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Today, the events are memorialized in lifelike statues mounted in Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park. – Photo: Shino, Flickr
Birmingham Police Chief Bull Connor turned vicious police dogs and water hoses on children when their Children’s Crusade in May 1963 attempted for several days to march to City Hall to meet with the mayor. In September 1963, the brutal suppression culminated in the murder of the four little girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Today, the events are memorialized in lifelike statues mounted in Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park. – Photo: Shino, Flickr

The honorable bronze statues at Birmingham, Alabama’s Kelly Ingram Park show a display of courageous youth, some as young as 8 years old, who refused to be silent and stood up for justice. Despite the vicious attacks by police dogs under the command of klansmen – yes, many police officers were Klan members, and still are today! – to the flesh-ripping power of the water hose, even the murders of youths Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley when “Dynamite Bob,” along with two other Amerikkkan terrorists bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church did not deter their mission.

The children still continued to march on and advocate with a stern promise that they will “turn the jails upside down” if incarcerated by Birmingham’s so-called “finest.” From the Bay Area to New York, Baltimore to Texas, the assaults and cold-blooded killings of our children go on.

During the Birmingham Children’s Crusade May 2-5, 1963, 3,000 school children from about 8 to 18 marched daily and were arrested and re-arrested daily. Every day they walked out of their classrooms to the 16th Street Baptist Church to be dispatched. “(T)here were not enough adults prepared to be arrested. So the Children’s Crusade turned the tide of the movement,” says historian Clayborne Carson. On May 11, 1963, Bull Connor was fired after 22 years as police chief.
During the Birmingham Children’s Crusade May 2-5, 1963, 3,000 school children from about 8 to 18 marched daily and were arrested and re-arrested daily. Every day they walked out of their classrooms to the 16th Street Baptist Church to be dispatched. “(T)here were not enough adults prepared to be arrested. So the Children’s Crusade turned the tide of the movement,” says historian Clayborne Carson. On May 11, 1963, Bull Connor was fired after 22 years as police chief.

Youth attending a pool party in McKinney, Texas, on June 5 were reminded that Black lives do not matter in this racist society when they were assaulted by McKinney PD and threatened with guns. Police were throwing the kids to the ground, pointing guns and threatening jail to those who refused to be silent about the wrongness of the situation.

According to a statement by McKinney PD, “The initial call came in as a disturbance involving multiple juveniles at the location who do not live here in the area or have the permission to be there, refusing to leave.” Now either that is some good police work, to be able to look at someone and determine where they live, or another example of “You don’t belong in this neighborhood, darkie!”

McKinney PD 2008 Officer of the Year Eric Casebolt brutalized 15-year-old Dajerria Becton and turned his gun on other Black children, terrorizing them at a pool party they’d been invited to by a schoolmate who lives in the neighborhood. – Video: Brandon Brooks, YouTube
McKinney PD 2008 Officer of the Year Eric Casebolt brutalized 15-year-old Dajerria Becton and turned his gun on other Black children, terrorizing them at a pool party they’d been invited to by a schoolmate who lives in the neighborhood. – Video: Brandon Brooks, YouTube

In the video, a 15-year-old girl, Dajerria Becton, is slammed to the ground and treated as if she was sub-human by a rude kkkop with a fragile ego and not a care for any of the lives that were present. The youngsters were randomly “picked out” by these confused kkkops to get on their faces and when the police attempt to “restore order” failed, all hell broke loose.

The kkkop who had not one, but TWO knees in Dajerria’s back had nothing but vulgar, disrespectful comments and threats of incarceration even towards the child who was crying hysterically from the brutality committed by McKinney’s “finest,” Eric Casebolt.

The video was also like a display of “slavemassa control” of “If you don’t be a good nigra and walk away and ignore this injustice, you will go to jail or die!” And listening to youth beg and say, “Sorry, sir,” to an unyielding beast has always been one of the many tools to break my people by forced submission and acceptance of oppression, no matter how barbaric it may be.

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

As a mother of young Black children and survivor of a police attack when I was seven months pregnant, it is heart wrenching to experience this level of injustice, to see that agents of the state can beat and murder our children of color with impunity. What is really sickening is that the ill actions by the kkkops are being backed up by some of the neighbors who could care less, just as long as that same thing don’t happen to white children, because there will be hell to pay!

My question is, did the “disorder” – the gathering of young Black youth in a majority white neighborhood – “frighten” the neighbors because of the subconscious fear of an uprising whenever Blacks congregate? My question is indeed tied to the historical fact that we were tortured and killed when we had gatherings out of the so-called “slavemassa’s” sight or control.

Blacks have always been stigmatized as being violent and unruly by our violent and brutal oppressors and that lie has been the platform behind why our children are still being slaughtered – alongside with our elders and adults – without any consequences. What the highly decorated Officer Eric Casebolt is seen doing on the video is child abuse and endangerment, plain and simple. The pointing of the guns and the unnecessary force inflicted on the minors was an offense that even blood relatives would have been punished for. Eric Casebolt got the PAL treatment (paid administrative leave).

Imagining a little bit of justice – Cartoon: Markus Prime
Imagining a little bit of justice – Cartoon: Markus Prime

I remember Malcolm X spoke on the issue that since white men have the right to defend white women and children, then Black men should have that same right, too. What did that kkkop Eric Casebolt do when he saw the two young men step up? He pulled that gun and did whatever he wanted to do to the young female.

Ring a bell? History repeats itself, teaching the same lessons in different ways. Some of the residents thanked the officers for a job well done and showed support for their “keeping us in line.” One would assume that no “good ol’ white folk” wanted to punish Casebolt, McKinney PD’s 2008 Officer of the Year!

Dear children, do not continue to be distracted by the ways of the world and its falsehoods. Your great legacies are at stake, and THAT is worth fighting for. And one day my grandchildren will visit your statues of courage in beautiful parks because you, too, like our ancestors, are not afraid.

Queennandi Xsheba is an activist and journalist with POOR Magazine and Poor News Network. She can be reached via deeandtiny@poormagazine.org. To learn more, visit www.poormagazine.org and www.racepovertymediajustice.org.

5 COMMENTS

  1. The increase in police brutality in this country is a frightening reality. … at over 40,000 military style “knock and announce” police raids a year. Selena

  2. I listened to a podcast on revisionisthistory.com by Malcolm Gladwell Season 2 Episode 4 titled: The Foot Soldier of Birmingham. It concerned this very statue and the story behind it. My question to you, the reader is: what’s more important, the narrative…or the truth?

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