The McKinney, Texas cop who tackled and assaulted a teenage black girl in a viral video last June will not be charged with a crime, citing a lack of evidence.
Despite the fact that thousands of people, near and far, bore witness to the officer’s unhinged cruelty to a young black girl, our broken justice system once again chooses not to act and signals that black women’s lives do not matter.
Last June, a group of black kids were having fun at a neighborhood pool party when uncomfortable neighbors called the police on them for being rowdy and supposedly not belonging. Snarls of “Go back to Section 8 [housing]” were yelled at the kids and names were called. A white woman at the pool struck the pool party organizers, 19 year-old Tatiana Rhodes, and a fight broke out. As a result, Officer Eric Casebolt showed up in true form, rolling in the grass, chasing kids, cursing at them, and wielding his gun.
Officer Casebolt, clearly wanting to assert his dominance over the black teenagers, grabbed a young woman in a swimsuit. He pushed and pulled her to the ground by her hair. The girl can be heard screaming for her mother when Officer Casebolt yells at her to put her face to the ground and drags her under his knees like a rag doll. Casebolt sits on the girl, who is perhaps a third his size, in order to pin her into place. The video is heartbreaking to watch.
This case shows that too often in the United States, black kids cannot just be kids. More specifically, it shows that violence against black women and girls by the police officers, who are supposed to protect all people especially vulnerable women, is mundane and acceptable according to the criminal justice system.
The Black Lives Matter movement has focused heavily on the deaths of and violence toward black men and boys. Yet additional campaigns and research also demonstrate that every day violence is also waged against black women and girls.
The African American Policy Forum’s report “Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected” discusses how black girls are disproportionately subject to punitive punishments and harsher sentences in the criminal justice system. According to the report, zero-tolerance policies in schools make black girls feel less safe and often prioritize discipline over learning. The report advocates for schools, teachers, and counselors to protect black girls and attempt to meet their educational and mental health needs before turning to punitive measures that make them more likely to end up in the criminal justice system.
Although the Texas courts failed the victim of Officer Casebolt’s crime, we must push and advocate for the protection of black women and girls in public and in private. We must believe black women when they say they have been brutalized. We must say enough is enough.
Photo Credits: Flickr, Crystal Hollis