McKinney PD Should Award Commendation Medals, Just Not to Their Officers

As the situation in McKinney continues to play out over the disgusting and disgraceful assault on a minor by former officer Eric Casebolt, I couldn’t help but notice there was an act of bravery seen in the now viral video.  No, it wasn’t Casebolt and he clearly was not in danger of losing his life, as one recently removed principal suggested.  It was a reflexive reaction of courage.  It just wasn’t performed by any of the people in uniform.

The country has watched the number of incidents of police brutality continue to mount across the country as cellphone and security video has been opening up a world of violence to white America that many either chose to ignore or didn’t know existed.  The ease with which video can be taken and shared is exposing the reality that racism is far from dead and there are widespread systemic problems with the justice system in the US in regards to its treatment of minorities. 

The problems have been there for a very long time and now we are getting an increasing number of first-hand looks at it.  Some in the privileged white community may think things were not like this or better in the past but not everyone was able to so easily film the Rodney King-like police offenses of yesteryear.  Whether it’s police shooting children, someone running away, or someone doing exactly what was asked of them, it’s gone on forever and ignoring that reality is simply stupid.

That said, the onus is heavily on the police to change their ways and mend the fences they continue to destroy.  One way they can do this is commending citizens for recognizing when their officers are committing a crime and using their words (and not violence) to try to stop it.  And this is exactly what some of the brave kids at the pool party clearly tried to do.

When Casebolt begins his assault on the child, some of her friends instantly react to what was clearly an act of brutality.  One of the young male teens even ends up in handcuffs for having the audacity of recognizing a crime and getting near ex-officer Casebolt when he was manhandling a child half his size.  Casebolt maniacally responds to this offense by pulling his weapon.

And that’s why it was so brave for these teens to even step near an out-of-control officer when he was clearly overreacting to the situation.  It had to have crossed their minds at that point that they could end up being the next Tamir, the next Akai, or the next Freddie.  That fear was put aside to stop an act of violence.  It was put aside for what most of us recognize is a thing called morality.  They saw their friend being hurt and they simply wanted it to stop.  Even at the potential cost of their young lives, they tried to non-violently step in and do what was right and what was just.

And there is no defending what Casebolt did in any way.  His near-immediate resignation spoke volumes considering the lack of justice other officers have received in various incidents around the country.  That resignation would not have happened so quickly if his actions were, in any way, defensible.

In light of this, the McKinney PD should schedule a ceremony with all the bells and whistles they would bestow on their own.  They should put on their fancy uniforms and line up in front of a stage to honor the courageous teens that recognized a crime being committed when they saw it and reacted appropriately.  It’s the least they can do to begin the necessary repair of their now tarnished image.

Social Protest Lit.: Langston Hughes’ “Scottsboro”

indexA poem by Langston Hughes, Black American poet and writer, entitled “Scottsboro” from Book IV called “Out of The Depths.” This chapter is focused on man’s pursuit of remedy for social injustice:

8 BLACK BOYS IN A SOUTHERN JAIL

WORLD TURN PALE!

8 black boys and one white lie.

Is it too much to die?

Is it much to die when immortal feet,

March with down Time’s street,

When beyond steel bars sound the deathless drums

Like a mighty heart-beat as they come?

Who comes?

Christ,

Who fought alone,

John Brown.

That mad mob

That tore the Bastille down

Stone by stone.

Moses

Jeanne d’Arc

Dessalines

Nat Turner

Fighters for the free.

Lenin with the flag blood red.

(Not dead! Not dead! None of these is dead.)

Gandhi

Sandino

Evangelista, too,

To walk with you–

8 BLACK BOYS IN A SOUTHERN JAIL.

WORLD TURN PALE!

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Social Protest Lit.: Bjornstjerne Bjornson, from “Beyond Human Might”

indexExcerpt from a play by Bjornstjerne Bjornson entitled “Beyond Human Might” from Book IV called “Out of The Depths.” This chapter is focused on man’s pursuit of remedy for social injustice:

(Here a young clergyman is speaking to a crowd of miners in the midst of bitterly fought strike)

Bratt: Here it is dark and cold. Here few work hopefully, and no one joyfully. Here the children won’t thrive–they yearn for the sea and the daylight. They crave the sun. But it lasts only a little while, and then they give up. They learn that among those who have been cast down here there is rarely one who can climb up again.

Several: That’s right!…

Bratt: What is there to herald the coming of better things? A new generation up there? Listen to what their young people answer for themselves: “We want a good time!” And their books? The books and the youth together make the future. And what do the books say? Exactly the same as the youth: “Let us have a good time! Ours are the light and the lust of life, its colors and its joys!” That is what the youth and their books say.–They are right! It is all theirs! There is no law to prevent their taking life’s sunlight and joy away from the poor people. For those who have the sun have also made the law.–But then the next question is whether we might not scramble up high enough to take part in writing of a new law. (This is received with thundering cheers.) What is needed is that one generation makes an effort strong enough to raise all coming generations into the vigorous life full of sunlight.

Many: Yes, yes!

Bratt: But so far every generation has put it off on the next one. Until at last our turn has come–to bear sacrifices and sufferings like unto death itself!

 

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Social Protest Lit: Lady Wilde’s “Despair”

indexA poem by Lady Wilde entitled “Despair” from Book IV called “Out of The Depths.” This chapter is focused on man’s pursuit of remedy for social injustice:

Before us dies our brother, of starvation;

Around are cries of famine and despair!

Where is hope for us, or comfort or salvation–

Where–oh! where?

If the angels ever hearken, downward bending,

They are weeping, we are sure,

At the litanies of human groans ascending,

From the crushed hearts of the poor.

 

We never knew a childhood’s mirth and gladness,

Nor the proud heart of youth free and brave;

Oh, a death-like dream of wretchedness and sadness

Is life’s weary journey to the grave!

Day by day we lower sink, and lower,

Till the God-like soul within

Falls crushed beneath the fearful demon power

Of poverty and sin.

 

So we toil on, on with fever burning

In heart and brain;

So we toil on, on through bitter scorning,

Want, woe, and pain.

We dare not raise our eyes to the blue heavens

Or the toil must cease–

We dare not breathe the fresh air God has given

One hour in peace.

 

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Social Protest Lit: Grant Allen, “The Wrongfulness of Riches”

indexAn short essay from Grant Allen entitled The Wrongfulness of Riches from Book IV called “Out of The Depths.” This chapter is focused on man’s pursuit of remedy for social injustice:

If you are on the side of the spoilers, they you are a bad man. If you are on the side of social justice, then you are a good one. There is no effective test of the high morality at the present day save this.

Critics of the middle-class type often exclaim, of reasoning like this, “What on earth makes him say it? What has he to gain by talking in that way? What does he expect to get by it?” So bound up are they in the idea of a self-interest as the one motive of action that they never even seem to conceive of honest conviction as a ground for speaking out the truth that is in one. To such critics I would answer, “The reason why I write all this is because I profoundly believe it. I believe the poor are being kept out of their own. I believe the rich are for the most part selfish and despicable. I believe wealth has been generally piled up by cruel and unworthy means. I believe it is wrong in us to acquiesce in the wicked inequalities of our existing social state, instead of trying our utmost to bring about another, where right would be done to all, where poverty would be impossible. I believe such a system is perfectly practicable, and that nothing stands in its way save the selfish fears and prejudices of individuals. And I believe that even those craven fears and narrow prejudices are wholly mistaken; that everybody, including the rich themselves, would be infinitely happier in a world where no poverty existed, where no hateful sights and sounds met then eye at every turn, where all slums were swept away, and where everybody had their just and even share of pleasures and refinements in a free and equal community.”

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Social Protest Lit: George Bernard Shaw, Preface to “Major Barbara”

indexThe preface to “Major Barbara” from George Bernard Shaw from Book IV called “Out of The Depths.” This chapter is focused on man’s pursuit of remedy for social injustice:

The thoughtless wickedness with which we scatter sentences of imprisonment, torture in the solitary cell and on the plank bed, and flogging, and moral invalids and energetic rebels, is as nothing compared to the stupid levity with which we tolerate poverty as a if it were either a wholesome tonic for lazy people or less a virtue to be embraced as St. Francis embraced it. If a man is indolent, let him be poor. If he is drunken, let him be poor. If he is not a gentleman, let him be poor. If he is addicted to the fine arts or to pure science instead of trade and finance, let him be poor. If he chooses to spend his urban eighteen shillings a week or his agricultural thirteen shillings a week on his beer and his family instead of saving it up for his old age, let him be poor. Serves him right! Also-somewhat inconsistently-blessed are the poor!

Now what does this Let Him Be Poor mean? It means let him be weak. Let him be ignorant. Let him be a nucleus of disease. Let him be a standing exhibition and example of ugliness and dirt. Let him have rickety children. Let him be cheap and let him drag his fellows down to his price by selling himself to do their work. Let his habitations turn our cities into poisonous congeries of slums. Let his daughters infect our young men with the diseases of the streets and his sons revenge him by turning the nation’s manhood into scrofula, cowardice, cruelty, hypocrisy, political imbecility, and all the other fruits of oppression and malnutrition. Let the undeserving become still less deserving; and let the deserving lay up for himself, not treasures in heaven, but horrors in hell upon earth. This being so, is it really wise to let him be poor? Would he not do ten time less harm as a prosperous burglar, incendiary, ravisher, or murderer, to the utmost limits of humanity’s comparatively negligible impulses in these directions? Suppose we were to abolish all penalties for such activities, and decide that poverty is the one thing we will not tolerate-that every adult with less than, say, 365 pounds a year, shall be painlessly but inexorably killed, and every hungry half naked child forcibly fattened and clothed, would not that be and enormous improvement on our existing system, which has already destroyed so many civilizations, and is visibly destroying ours in the same way?

 

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