As a parent, what would it be like to watch your 14-year-old bathing suit clad daughter be thrown to the ground by a police officer and sat on for minutes while she sobbed, simply because she spoke? What would that be like? How would you even process that image without being filled with rage and fear?
Last weekend, a pool party in McKinney Texas turned into the ultimate example of what is wrong with the way some police officers view black children — as suspects, even when they’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. Some phone video footage of one police officer essentially terrorizing a group of kids has shocked the nation.
McKinney is a small suburb outside of Dallas. 75% of its population is white. 10% is black. In 2014, it was voted one of the best places to live in America by Money magazine. Last week, 19-year-old McKinney resident Tatiana Rhodes planned a pool party event, which was advertised on social media. It was advertised as a public, afternoon event with free entry. Many news outlets put the number of guests in attendance at 70 teens.The organizer of the party alleges that most of the teens who came to the cookout live in the area. From The Root:
Around 7:15 p.m. Friday, police arrived after receiving calls regarding teens ‘actively fighting’ near the Craig Ranch Community North Pool. BuzzFeed News reports that some teens and adults began fighting after adults made racist comments, reportedly telling the black kids to ‘return to Section 8 housing.
When the police arrived, one particular officer was very overzealous about rounding up the kids: at one point he pulls his gun out and waves it around — as do several of the other officers. The video culminates with a painfully long episode of him tackling a 14-year-old bikini clad girl, slamming her to the ground, and sitting on her while she calls for her mother.
Brandon Brooks, the white teenager who shot the video, told Buzzfeed, “Everyone who was getting put on the ground was black, Mexican, Arabic. [The cop] didn’t even look at me. It was kind of like I was invisible.” The police officer is handcuffing and detaining teens who describe themselves as “bystanders.”
Apart from the jarring imagery of police officers waving their guns at a group of teenagers, and a girl being tackled to the ground — it’s the assumption of guilt that is the most disturbing thing about the video. The assumption that the kids didn’t belong there simply because of the color of their skin is pretty vile, too. The way the police approach the crowd, as you can see in the full, unedited video, is beyond disturbing.
70 teens isn’t a small group, but had the teenager who’d done the inviting been white, and had the majority of her guests been, too — what would have happened? We can only speculate about that. This is ultimately one of those situations where it will be painfully evident to some how deep-rooted racism affects everything in our world — for others it will be a reason to say, “These kids were acting up. What do you expect?”
I, for one, expect officers of the law to be able to approach a situation and handle it like a peace officer — not a member of a SWAT team. The kids were attempting to leave by the time the officers arrived — why pull your guns, why detain them? If you can look at a video of an officer of the law slamming a teenager girl in a bathing suit to the ground and sitting on her for minutes and not think it’s “excessive force” — I don’t even know how to respond to that.
The officer is has been placed on leave. From NBC News:
McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller said in a statement Sunday night that he was “disturbed and concerned,”
“Our expectation … is that our police department and other departments will act professionally and with appropriate restraint relative to the situation they are faced with,” Loughmiller said.
Yeah. That’s not too much to ask. No parent should have to watch their children being treated this way. Should police respond with caution to reports of a public fight? Sure. Should they pull guns on a group of teenagers attempting to leave a pool party?