I have never been to Jasper, Texas; but, like Milwaukee, Wisconsin please remind me to never get arrested there. If you know anything about anything, you would know that Jasper Texas isn’t too welcoming of black folks. There was an incident in Jasper, Texas some time ago that sparked national outrage. It wasn’t that long ago that a black man named James Byrd Jr. was hitched to the back of a pickup truck with chains and dragged to death for being black. Like I said it wasn’t that long ago; this incident didn’t happen in the good old days when racism was rich. Byrd’s death coupled with that of Matthew Shepherd — a gay man — eventually led to the signing of an expansion of hate crime legislation by President Obama in 2009.
I’m not sure whether Jasper, Texas has recovered from the wounds of racial strife. But, with the surfacing of a video that sh0ws two Jasper, Texas police officers giving a black woman a beating. One has to wonder how much things may have changed in the small rural Texas town. According to a report by Yahoo News, Keyarika “Shea” Diggles, 25, was brought to the jail on May 5th, 2013 on a warrant for an unpaid fine. While being booked and processed, while on the phone with her mother making arrangements to pay the $100 fine, Diggles was “accosted” rather violently by the officers.
This from Yahoo News:
A southeast Texas town with a history of racial unrest on Monday fired two white police officers recently captured on video slamming a black woman’s head into a countertop and wrestling her to the ground.
“The amount of force used was abominable,” the woman’s attorney, Cade Bernsen, told Yahoo News.
The incident was captured by security cameras at the Jasper, Texas, police headquarters.
Keyarika “Shea” Diggles, 25, was brought to the jail on May 5 for an unpaid fine, according to Bernsen. He said she was was on the phone with her mother trying to arrange to get the $100 owed when Officer Ricky Grissom cut off the call.
There’s no audio on the video, but Diggles and Grissom were apparently arguing when Officer Ryan Cunningham comes in behind Diggles and attempts to handcuff her. When she appears to raise her hand, Cunningham grabs Diggles by the hair and slams her head into a countertop. The officers wrestle Diggles to the ground before dragging her by her ankles into a jail cell.
“She got her hair pulled out, broke a tooth, braces got knocked off … it was brutal,” Bernsen said.
Diggles was charged with resisting arrest for arguing with the officers, a charge dropped on Monday, according to Bernsen.
Watch the video:
More from Yahoo:
The officers’ firing comes 15 years to the week after an infamous hate crime in Jasper, a town of about 8,000 people two hours northeast of Houston. James Byrd Jr., a black man, was tied to the back of a pickup by three white men and dragged for several miles until he was decapitated. The high-profile case triggered marches by the New Black Panthers and Ku Klux Klan.
Last year, a majority-white Jasper City Council fired the town’s first black chief after 16 months on the job. Rodney Pearson is now suing, claiming his civil rights were violated.
“It’s a different part of the world, man, it’s crazy,” said Bernsen, who’s also representing the fired police chief.
Jasper’s interim city manager confirmed the terminations, but referred questions about the Diggles case to the interim police chief, who was unreachable Monday afternoon.
“The more things change, the more they remain the same,” Jasper City Council Member Alton Scott said of the city’s racial troubles.
Scott obtained the video in the Diggles’ incident and turned it over to a local TV station after he heard that her written complaint against the officers was apparently being ignored.
“There’s nothing she said that could have justified what they did,” Scott said. “They are supposed to be trained professionals. They are supposed to be above that. It was inexcusable.”
After terminating the officers on Monday, the council requested that the pair be investigated for possible criminal charges. Bernsen said he hopes that probe is done by the FBI or state police.
“I don’t trust the Police Department as far as you can throw them,” he said.
Check out the following report: