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Outrage As Mother, Daughters Manhandled By 'Brutal' Cop

By Rhodesia Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Dec 29, 2016 - 10:24:46 AM

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Screen stills from video of an encounter with a yet to be identified Ft. Worth police officer and a Black mother with her daughters.

“911 Is A Joke” were lyrics hip hop group Public Enemy spouted in a song almost 30 years ago. But there was nothing funny about the encounter and violence suffered by a Black mother who called 911 in Fort Worth, Texas. Her experience went viral over Facebook Live, sending waves of outrage and anger across Black America.

Jacqueline Craig, the mother of a seven-year-old boy, called 911 Dec. 22 after the child said an unknown White man had choked him. The White officer who responded to the call can be seen in the video that has drawn 2.5 million views, reprimanding Ms. Craig for raising her voice after asking her why didn’t she teach her son not to litter, which was the alleged reason for the encounter with the first Caucasian male. The officer also asked why the man didn’t have the right to choke her son. Soon, Ms. Craig and her two teenage daughters were handcuffed and arrested.

“This is a gross miscarriage of justice,” Lee Merritt, the family’s lawyer, told The Final Call in a telephone interview. “The officer went out of his way to aggravate and escalate the situation. It was a brutal and excessive use of force given the circumstances and there were no grounds for that type of force.” “That type of force” included whipping Ms. Craig to the ground, taser in her back and handcuffing her while threatening to tase her 15-year-old daughter, who he forced to lay on the street and handcuffed. Another daughter, who broadcast the encounter live over social media, was arrested and the cop threatened to take her phone at one point. He has not been identified.

The family wants the officer fired immediately and charged with felony assault against the three Black females. They also want the man who allegedly choked the little boy charged with felony assault on a minor, and all charges against the daughters and their mother dropped. Ms. Craig was charged with disorderly conduct, her 19-year-old daughter, Brea Hymond’s charge was resisting arrest and interfering in a police matter, and her 15-year-old daughter’s charge was resisting arrest.

The White man who allegedly choked Ms. Craig’s son was not arrested or charged.

Dominique Alexander, a leader of Next Generation Action Network, a social justice organization, planned the first protest for the family at old Tarrant County Courthouse. About 100 people attended the Dec. 22 demonstration, including the family. During a Dec. 23 press conference, Joel Fitzgerald, first Black chief of police in Fort Worth, refused to call out racism in the video. He expressed disappointment and described the officer as “rude.” “I can’t call it racism,” he said. Other Black lawmakers at the press conference condemned the officer and his conduct. The officer’s gun has been taken and he is on paid desk duty. An internal investigation has also been announced.

Black clergy and religious leaders came out on Christmas Eve to support the family and emphatically state that they saw racism in the encounter.  “We do not trust him to carry a gun nor does he have our permission to come in our community and enact deadly force,” B.R. Daniels Jr., pastor of First Greater New Hope Baptist Church told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He has lost credibility in our community.”

“If you look at the video, you can see that there are no men around,” observed Student Minister Lee Muhammad of the Nation of Islam mosque in Fort Worth. “She called the police because she felt like she needed help. However, she received a very condescending officer who escalated the incident. I met with Police Chief Fitzgerald about our conflict resolution work and he seemed to be on board. Our people, specifically our women, need a community and a network of people they can call on and who they trust,” he said. 

Joel Fitzgerald, chief of police in Fort Worth
Student Minister Muhammad believes the responding officer did not do what he was called to do. He wants to make sure no one loses sight of the real issue, the alleged assault on a seven-year-old. The media likes to assassinate people’s character when it comes to race and incidents like this, so the focus must stay on why the police were called in the first place, said Lee Muhammad.

Dr. Ava Muhammad, attorney, student minister and spokesperson for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, said the incident illustrates why it is important to establish the 10,000 Fearless to protect the community, police and rebuild Black neighborhoods as Min. Farrakhan has called for.  “It will give rise to our own security forces, so that we have someone we can call. When you call 911, you’re calling people who work for the same system,” she warned.

“That just goes to show you every word the Honorable Louis Farrakhan has given us and is giving us is coming to reality. He told us that we were going to see the nature of this enemy come out and we’re seeing it coming out. They don’t respect women, children and they definitely don’t respect no Black man,” said Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad, interim director of the 10,000 Fearless. “That’s why the conflict resolution is so important because maybe if that sister would have called the Conflict Resolution office, maybe we could have come out sat down with both of them and maybe resolved their issue, deescalate the issue.

“When you send the White officers in our community, that’s what’s going to happen and they really don’t respect females because I looked at the video. He didn’t like the fact that she would dare challenge him about her son and about how she raises her son. What did that have to do with the incident at hand? Now he’s going to get involved, his White supremacy came out now if we had the conflict resolution and the 10K Fearless we could have resolved this by the grace of God and that is why it is so important that we need these centers all over this country. And that’s why they need to be able to call us and that’s why we’ve been training all over this country now, those of us in the Nation of Islam and out with the Local Organizing Committees on how to deescalate these kinds of incidents.

“And the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan told us that’s what he wanted us to do and that’s why it’s so important for us to hear and obey because in Atlanta we had some incidents that happened like that. The police were on the scene, we came. The same thing happened in Chattanooga. The police backed up and allowed us to handle it, we deescalated it and it came out all right. So it will work if you give us the opportunity to work it. That’s why we need these conflict resolution centers, that’s why we need the 10K Fearless centers all over America because every word the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has stated has come true and if we live long enough we’re going to see it and we have to respect and protect our own communities because nobody else will and that’s just a fact,” said Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad, who oversees the 10,000 Fearless effort in Atlanta.   

United States census data shows that the rate of racial disparities in police stops, frisks, and arrests are identical for Black men and Black women. 

But the African American Policy Forum issued a report on Black women, police brutality, and the media. The group found that the media, researchers, and advocates tended to exclude Black women and focus only on how racial profiling impacts Black males. Police misconduct involving Black women and girls received less community support for victims and less attention for corporate controlled media outlets, according to the report. 

Many Black women who have become victims of police brutality admitted calling 911 for help. Earledreka White said she was pulled over by Officer Gentian Luca of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, in Houston, Texas, last March. According to Ms. White, the officer became angry when she dialed 911 for help. Video recorded by an 11-year-old bystander shows Off. Luca hurling Ms. White to the ground. More officers came on the scene, but she said they went straight to the witnesses even though she was the one that called for help. She was arrested for resisting arrest and search. The officers huddled up, but she could hear them trying to figure out what they were going to charge her with, she said. She sat in jail for two days.

Antwynette Houston of Louisville, KY holds a sign demanding accountability from city.

Antwynette Houston had an encounter with an off-duty Louisville Metro Police officer in August 2013 that led her to call 911. She charges her shoulder was completely separated and broken at the hands of Off. Scott Sturgeon who yanked her out of her car and dragged her across the parking lot in front of her nine-year-old to his unmarked car. Her crime was allegedly parking in a handicap spot. Twelve officers showed up, but none came to her defense, she said. Ms. Houston is suing the Louisville Metro Police Dept., Off. Sturgeon, and the city of Louisville for pain and suffering. She has undergone six surgeries in the past three years and has not been compensated in any way for her injuries. “They’re stalling,” Ms. Houston said. “It’s been three years and they’re just getting around to recording my deposition in September 2016. One of the reasons I reached out to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan is because my Christian pastor, who is over the largest Black church in Louisville, refused to help me,” she continued. “He turned his back on me because he didn’t have the courage to go against the police department.”  

Ms. Houston commended leaders like Min. Farrakhan who stand up for Black people. 

Reverend Catherine Brown of Chicago and her one-year-old child were confronted by police in route home in May 2013. Two officers pulled her over and dragged her out of her vehicle. The camera was rolling when they pepper sprayed her and her child. They pulled her so violently from the car, her skirt came off and her underwear was exposed. The cops can be seen laughing in the video. She also called 911 for back up, but received no aid.

Black women have expressed feeling safer when having their children in the car when the cops pull them over. The AAPF reports found the presence of children does not necessarily prompt police to proceed with caution when Black women are involved. This lack of concern is consistent with a longstanding historic pattern of devaluing Black motherhood and the loving bonds that tie mothers and children together, said the group. Damaging stereotypes that cast Black women as criminal and unfit mothers share a common genealogy with practices that deprive Black women of protections typically associated with motherhood during police encounters, sometimes leading to the use of lethal force, noted the report. It was released in May, 2015.

Krystal Muhammad, national chair of the New Black Panther Party, looks at what’s happening to Black women and Black people in general as the sign of the time. From the Donald Trump presidential campaign to the escalation of police brutality, these are acts of war against Black people, she noted. “The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said the KKK would infiltrate the police department,” she said. “They are predators attempting to instill fear as they did during chattel slavery. It’s genocide and they’re targeting our race. We need to come together and make our presence more known in our community,” Ms. Muhammad said.

Min. Farrakhan called for Blacks to travel to Washington, D.C., October 2015 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. The theme was Justice or Else! The Honorable Elijah Muhammad told Min. Farrakhan that he would call a march for justice and would not leave until justice was received, said Robert Muhammad, the Southwest Regional minister for the Nation of Islam based in Houston.

“Have we received justice in America?” he asked. “The answer is no! Therefore, Allah continues to give us reminders as to why we went to D.C. demanding Justice or Else!. The incident in Fort Worth is just the latest reminder.” 

He emphasized that Black lives matter to God and that Black people will get justice or America can expect more calamities brought by God.

Attorney Merritt says the next step is to file a report against the neighbor and petition prosecutors to criminally investigate the officer.