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.

Keyarika Diggles
Keyarika Diggles

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:

The two police officers have since been relieved of duty. But, to me, that’s not enough. I’m of the opinion that they should be brought up on charges. Pending an investigation, it is my hope that they do. Whether that will happen if left up to anyone in Jasper, Texas has yet to be determined. I could be wrong, but in the interest of justice, I believe said investigation should be done by the FBI and not local authorities.

More from Yahoo:

keyarika-shea-diggles-jasper-texasThe 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:

  • Val

    What’s interesting to me about this is that I’m sure most people will view this differently than the bus incident in Detroit when the driver hit a woman with an uppercut.

    But, to me both incidents are the same. Men brutalizing Black women. Of course because the two men in Texas who did this are both White and police officers, there will be outrage. If they had been Black and on a city bus, the woman would have been blamed for instigating the beating.

  • I’m glad you brought that up – I intentionally left out that angle in hopes of somebody mentioning it. Yes, you are correct. Like you, I believe this will be viewed differently. Which is sad because like you said, it’s all about the physical abuse of women so as to maintain the balance of power. But, you now some will say that this woman deserved to be treated that way, much like the sister on the bus in Cleveland.

  • I don’t see this the same as the incident in Cleveland. This is pretty clearly brutality. It’s carried out by agents of the state who are licensed to kill. In addition the police appear to have started the physical assault, not the woman.

    In the Cleveland case or the Seattle case or for that matter the Atlanta security guard case, the women all started the physical assault. Totally different situations.

  • Yes they are very different and for the reasons you stated. I’m just concerned about how this incident will be internalized. I can’t help but to think that for some, her treatment will be viewed as deserved. Which in those other incidents you cited seems to be the running perception.

    One weird piece of info I just found out. The video was released by whistleblower a month after the incident. And, that they went to her home to pick her up at 6am and arreted her. I’ve never heard of cops serv8ing warrants for traffic tickets before. But I guess that’s how they do it in Texas.

  • Amy

    Sweetheart, I’m from Jasper Texas and ou couldn’t be more wrong. Sure, what the officers did was horrible by to say it doesn’t welcome blacks is just plain stupid. If you lived there you would know the majority population of Jasper is in fact black. Don’t go spewing bullshit about a town you’ve only heard about from a very few selective incidents. The people of this town treat each other like family, whites, Hispanics and blacks alike. You want to talk shit about this town because of its past, actually go there and experience it… I promise with the way you’re talking pull be looked at like a fool from EVERYONE.

  • Amy

    Same person, just one other thing… ^auto correct sucks (I hate iPhones) but yes, there have been a few tragedies in Jasper, but most of us don’t dwell on it, it holds us back if we do. Most of us have moved on from it and don’t let it skew our views of our beloved home town. That being said, the officers were fired if I’m correct about that. But the people of Jasper welcome everyone with open arms, regardless of race. Officer brutality is not just racial but occurs when they feel they have a higher authority and can get away with it… It happens all the time everywhere, it just gets swept under the rug, I do think it’s rather sad that more drastic measures weren’t taken with these officers but that’s how it goes I guess. All I’m saying is don’t judge this town, the people here really are great and welcoming and will talk your ears off even if you are a stranger… We people of Jasper are family!

  • “Officer brutality is not just racial but occurs when they feel they have a higher authority and can get away with it… It happens all the time everywhere, it just gets swept under the rug, I do think it’s rather sad that more drastic measures weren’t taken with these officers but that’s how it goes I guess. ”

    That’s the problem: that’s not how it’s sup[posed tpo go. And yes, police brutality happens all the time to many people of different races. However, because of that power trip you described, it disproportionately happens to people of color. So while you’re diminishing one’s claim of racism in a city in particular with a rich history of it (and no, the majority of the people in your town are not black) it’s important to acknowledge the truth rather than attempt to sweep it under the rug.