By Robert A. Vella
By now, you’ve probably heard about the incident in McKinney, Texas where police officer Eric Casebolt – who has since resigned (see: Police officer who slammed black girl to the ground at McKinney, Texas, pool party resigns) – went ballistic on a group of black teenagers attending a pool party. Understandably, it has reignited the ongoing national debate over race relations in America where actual and potential victims of police misconduct see all cops as racists and where white conservatives see all black people as criminals.
However, what really triggered this incident appears to have less to do with either predisposition and more to do with how police respond to citizen reports of “criminal” behavior.
From Terrance Heath of Campaign for America’s Future – Police Violence Against Blacks Has An Economic Context:
A similar economic backdrop exists in McKinney, Texas, where another incident of excessive use of force this weekend led to more headlines and protests. African-American residents of the Craig Ranch neighborhood, a gated planned community in McKinney, held an end-of-the-school-year party at the community swimming pool, attended by a racially mixed group of teenagers, most of whom lived in Craig Ranch. Residents complained that the teenagers were too rowdy. The organizer of the party said that a security guard appeared and began asking the black teenagers if they had pool cards, and insisting the black teenagers leave.
Witnesses agree that the situation escalated when a white adult resident told the African-American teenagers to “go back to section 8 housing,” got into an argument with, and slapped the African-American teenager who organized the party.
McKinney, Texas — which Money magazine ranked last year as the best place to live in America — has a long history of housing discrimination. The city is split by Highway 75. The wealthier section of McKinney (where the Craig Ranch community is) lies west of Highway 75 and is 86 percent white. The older, poorer section of town sits east of the highway, and is 49 percent white.
In 2009, McKinney settled a large housing discrimination lawsuit, alleging that the city was blocking the development of affordable housing for tenants with Section 8 vouchers, in the whiter, more affluent west side of the city. But a court settlement doesn’t mean the issue of housing discrimination is settled, as the reported comment about Section 8 housing indicate. The white resident alleged to have made this comment obviously associated African Americans with what she considered slum housing.
Another reported comment that the black teenagers should get used to the bars outside the pool because “that’s all they were going to see,” reflects assumptions many people make about young blacks.
Just because some racist, segregationist white people don’t like seeing blacks in their gated community, isn’t sufficient cause for police to blindly obey their perverse desires and engage in some sort of American-style ethnic cleansing. Before taking any action, the police should have thoroughly investigated the situation and, even if laws were indeed broken, resolved the matter peacefully. From what I’ve been able to determine, the only crimes which might have been committed are misdemeanor trespassing (by the teenagers) and misdemeanor assault & battery (by the residents) – neither of which warranted the type of police response exhibited by officer Casebolt.
The failure here, and evidenced throughout the nation, falls squarely upon law enforcement administration. Cops who are poorly trained in proper response techniques, or who cannot apply the law equally and without bias, are not qualified to be police officers and should be retrained or removed from duty. Obviously, such professional managerial oversight is severely lacking across America.