TO: McKinney Police Department, Internal Affairs
RE: McKinney Pool Party Incident
Dear Internal Affairs Officer:
My name is Eddie Griffin, former political prisoner and peacemaking negotiator between community and police. I was invited to look into the pool party incident and find the racism in the police department’s actions against the black youth attending the party.
I agree that, superficially, you will not find racism upon the McKinney Police Department, based solely upon this incident. The pool party organizer was the one having the problem with uninvited guests. And yes, there was a need to call the police to sort out the uninvited teens.
What is missing in cultural awareness is that whenever young people have their summer break parties, there will always be uninvited teens trying to crash the party, more so for the free food rather than mischief. However, we know from our experience that these are the very times when most of our summer violence occurs, when teens crash other teens’ parties. This is why African-American parents are especially watchful at such events.
The racism displayed at the Craig Ranch Community Pool came in when a white resident attempted to rid the uninvited guest by telling them to “Go back to Section 8 housing.” But saying such a thing to a teen that actually lived there in the neighborhood was offensive. And, the 14-year old dragged down by Officer Casebolt also lived in that community. Clearly, there was a misidentification of suspects. And the innocent wound up being manhandled as if they were the guilty parties.
Is it just to round up the innocent with the guilty, by prejudging all to be guilty?
Brandon Brooks, the young white teen who shot the video which we have now all seen, told KDFW News that “tensions rose after a white woman and a black teenager had an altercation”, after the woman said “to go back to section 8 housing.” And another white teen who appeared this morning on the news with her father confirmed the remark. For this young white teen trying to intervene, she was handcuffed and sat on the curb.
The remark, “Go back to section 8 housing”, is not a harmless statement. It blatantly says “go back to where you belong.” It suggests that you do not belong here. Go back to your place. Go back to Africa. We do not want you in our neighborhood. This is a trend wherever racial intolerance is found.
Whatever ran through the mind of the young African-American teen with the white resident, he would have had many reasons to be offended. Who is responsible, the adult who should know better, or the child who cannot resist such an emotional provocation?
Now everyone would agree with the need to call the police to restore order, and sort out who belongs at the party and who were the party crashers. But Officer Casebolt had no way of knowing who was who. Instead of seeking out the parents in charge of the party, he chose skin color over innocence and guilt. Thus, he wound up assailing the very kids for whom this celebration was given. And worse, Casebolt drew his service weapon and threatened their lives, and those who tried to intervene. What was not obvious to the officer, as he was demanding the kids to go home was the fact that they were already home. This was where they lived, and they had a right to be there. On the other hand, most of the intruders had probably already scattered by the time the police arrived.
Everything else is moot. The issue is whether Officer Casebolt used professional judgment in drawing his service weapon on these kids whose only crime was protesting the suppression of their rights? Didn’t they have the right to have a summer party? Didn’t they have the right to expect protection from the local police department against unwanted intruders? So how then did they wound up being the ones handcuffed and slammed to the ground?
No wonder there were no arrests among the juveniles. Officer Casebolt’s judgment was faulty, insofar as he did not consult the parents who were in charge. These parents could have positively identified those uninvited guests and worked with the police to have them discretely escorted off the property.
Secondly, I believe Officer Casebolt works from his own faulty training program. Inasmuch as he claims to be a training instructor, his tactic of going in, cursing, demanding everybody to get on the ground like in an Afghan war zone, is not conducive to community policing. This is not what we want to see in our local police officers. We do not need a battlefield mentality and heavy-handed policing over our kids. It is unacceptable, disgraceful, and hostile.
But judgment is upon you and the McKinney Police Department. I would only advise: Judge righteous judgment, and not according to politics or race.