Saturday, June 13, 2015

McKinney or Just Another Day In America?

It should be no surprise to anyone that Texas is ranked as the third most racist state in America, right behind Mississippi and Alabama. After all, it has the most restrictive voter ID laws in the country, requires all of its political candidates to believe in the Christian God, and executes more people than any other state in the union. Seriously. Think of it this way: the reason terrorists like ISIS run around lopping off people's heads is because they want to turn the world into Texas.

The unfortunate reality of Texas race relations was put on full display recently when a police officer responded to a disturbance at a neighborhood pool party one afternoon. In the process, he transformed an affluent suburb of  Dallas into the Monday Night Raw of  American Racism.

About 75 percent of the residents of McKinney are white while nearly 11 percent are black. The police officer who put the city of McKinney on par with places like Ferguson and Baltimore was David Eric Casebolt. Casebolt became an overnight video sensation when he arrived at the pool party with an attitude that he never would've had with the Banditos and the Cossacks over in Waco. With that attitude, he proceeded to throw a girl to the sidewalk by her hair. He then twisted her arm behind her back and knelt with both knees on her back. She was 14 years old, by the way, wearing nothing but a bikini. And she was black.

The whole ugly affair was captured on video, of course, and played out across the internet like a scene from 12 Years a Slave. As the video clearly shows, Casebolt was so concerned with trying to control the situation that he eventually lost all control of himself (in the beginning of the video he is seen tumbling ass-over-elbows, for example).  He resigned from the McKinney City Police Dept just days later. Yet one has to wonder if that resignation was the result of a personal admission of racism, the recognition of a moment of professional incompetence, or simply the result of the public shaming that only a viral video of such actions can produce.

At a press conference that followed Casebolt's resignation, McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley said  that while "Officer David Eric Casebolt's actions were "indefensible," the other eleven officers who responded to the report of fights and a disturbance at the pool party at the Craig Ranch North Community Pool "performed according to their training." Casebolt, he added, did not.When I read that, the only thought that came to mind was, "Really?!"

If the other officers really did "perform according to their training," one has to wonder who is training them to be so accepting of a fellow officer's outright attack of a child. One can plainly see in the video, for example, that the other officers not only failed to "protect and serve" the 14 year old girl from Casebolt's excessive use of force, but at least one officer can be seen actively restraining other civilians from doing so as well. Indeed, Casebolt himself eventually went as far as drawing his firearm on two boys who likewise attempted to intervene on the girl's behalf.

What should be obvious by now, then, is that officer "training" needs to include the ability of one officer to know when to protect citizens from a fellow officer. If not, then who should people turn to for help when they seek protection from the police officers themselves? At what point, in other words, does the naked aggression of an overzealous cop warrant the response of a proportional level of self defense? And more to the point, what role does race play in determining how we answer such a question?

Take for example that fact that a number of Texans came out in defense of Casebolt's actions.  Yet if those same Texans had seen young white men trying to defend a bikini clad, 14 year old white girl, who was being similarly throttled by a black police officer, would they condemn those young men as troublemakers or applauded them as heroes?

But perhaps the real question we should be asking, however, is not what caused Casebolt to become so unglued, but whether his actions were an anomaly or just another day.  If no video had been taken of the event in the first place, in other words, and the only people talking about it were the black kids in Texas who were there, would white America even be talking about this at all? Or would what happened in McHinney be just another day in Ferguson, just another day in Baltimore, just another day in America?

Religion is a disease masquerading as it’s own cure.