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Conservatives, Calm Down About The “Liberal” Media Response To McKinney

Ashley Yang |
June 9, 2015 | 3:36 p.m. PDT

Opinion Editor


A YouTube video of a police officer wrestling a black teen to the ground and drawing his weapon as he tried to break up a pool party has sent shockwaves throughout the nation. The incident is viewed by many as one more in a series of violent police encounters with individuals of color and the black community.


(Trigger warning: video contains graphic displays of violence) 


The officer shown in the video, identified as Corporal Eric Casebolt, a 10-year veteran of the force, has since been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

To recap: on Friday, police responded to a disturbance at a community pool in McKinney, Texas, a town in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. There, they found “multiple juveniles who do not live in the area refusing to leave.” According to Tatyana Rhodes, one of the hosts of the pool party, kids got scared and started running when they saw the cops. Officer Casebolt appears to be running around the scene, rounding up the youth and yelling at them to “get on the ground.” The scene culminates in Casebolt drawing his weapon on two black teens and pushing Dajerria Becton, 15, to the ground by holding onto her head by her braids. 

The confrontation has precipitated difficult self-examination by Dallas-area residents, who are now charged with reconciling the wealth and modernity of its suburbs with elements of southern culture that may not be so modern. Other reports by the “liberal” media suggest a more black-and-white picture (no pun intended) about what was shown in the video - a short post featured on The Daily Beast has the headline “White Cop Pulls Gun on Black Pool Party.” 

Which is why several conservative blogs have taken it upon themselves to offer a more “balanced” perspective. That is to say, disguise ad hominem attacks against Becton, other black teens who attended the party, and the party’s organizers (all three are black women) in an alternative narrative that portrays them all as violent thugs and hooligans. 

In an article on BreitBart titled “Separating Fact from Fiction in the McKinney, Texas Story,” the author placed at the top of the page a selfie from the Instagram account of Tatyana Rhodes. The photo, taken in front of a bathroom mirror, shows Rhodes wearing heavily distressed, acid-wash jeans and holding up her middle finger. Another article, titled “The Full Story of the McKinney, Texas Pool Mob” posted on theconservativetreehouse.com features the same photo, also near the top of the page. Next to it is a photo taken from the Instagram of Lashana Burkes, who according The Conservative Treehouse is Rhodes’ mother. Burkes is shown posing in a form-fitting black mini-dress, with the caption “happy mother’s day” written across the photo.

In fact, BreitBart made it a point to again describe the content Rhodes’ Instagram feed in the middle of the article, as well as post some more “sample” images (one is of Rhodes wearing a bikini; the other shows her posed suggestively in front of a mirror). Directly below, it also reposts a tweet allegedly composed by a friend of Rhodes, which makes a reference to “Chicago Blood.” 

All these extraneous inclusions, which in no way contribute to a better understanding of what ensued at the McKinney pool, represent in a thinly veiled attempt to fit Rhodes and Burkes into the stereotype of black women that makes people (read: whites) uncomfortable and less able to relate to blacks — specifically, that they are unculturedhyper-aggressive, and overly sexual. By undermining their character, the article insinuates that heavy policing was necessary to disperse a gathering of (black) people like them.

An earlier BreitBart article posted Sunday purports that the severity of the police response was justified in containing the “violence” that afternoon. But beyond one altercation “between a [black] teenage girl and two [white] adults,” which BreitBart neglects to mention ignited when the adults verbally abused the black attendees and told them to go back to their “section 8 home,” genuinely violent behavior is noticably absent from the overall alarmist narrative. BreitBart states that according to residents, “teens who were not invited began climbing the fence to get in.” The Conservative Treehouse uses even more choice vocabulary, calling the attendees “a mob of partygoers” and even including the screenshot of a Facebook post by a local resident who claims that the teens were “brought into [the] neighborhood by the carload,” that they “began fighting each other and pushing their way into our private pool,” accosted a security guard when “he tried to stop the beginnings of this mob scene,” and “started yelling racial slurs…and assaulting people and property (throwing bottles at cars and attacking a mother…with 3 young children).” The last claim of racial slurs and assaults has not been reiterated by any other news source, not even BreitBart.

The image of a “mob” of unruly black teens descending upon a wealthy, predominately white (“our”) subdivision more than fuels the racist fears of (white) conservatives, especially ones who live in heavily white, affluent areas like West McKinney, where they enjoy picturesque upper-middle classlives surrounded by “art galleries, boutiques, and farm-to-table restaurants” located in “brick buildings and [on] cobblestone streets.” Racism is seen as a problem in less “polite” communities (and certainly not in McKinney, voted best place to live in 2014 by Money) while the majority of residents, who rarely interact with people who are different from them, are unaware that they view the actions of non-whites through a racist lens until the “liberal media” criticizes the heavy-handed police response to a “black” pool party that they believe was justified. When called on to defend their position, all conservative media can do is exaggerate their racially-motivated fear of a group of black teenagers who just came to enjoy an afternoon at the pool.

Regardless of whether Rhodes and Burkes were authorized to throw the party, how the teens got there, who racially abused whom, and how the fight between the two women and the black teen started, police are trained to deescalate violence and to use force that is a proportional response to the perceived threat. Officer Casebolt did not do either when he menaced two teens by drawing his weapon, and he definitely did not when he grabbed onto 15 year-old DajerriaBecton’s head by her braids, slammed her to the ground, and held her face down. No media report of the incident stated that any of the attendees were armed. From the video, Casebolt did not seem to believe that Becton or any others were armed or dangerous enough to require heavy force to be subdued. But his methods certainly suggest that he felt the teens were much more threatening than was actually demonstrated. That is why he has been placed on leave - not because of “race agitators” crying foul (by the way, the example of “race agitation” linked to by BreitBart is a tweet by a black man named Deray Jackson which simply reads, “I stand with the young people of McKinney, Texas”).

The actions of a lone officer may have precipitated the media frenzy, but one rogue cop who views the community he is charged with protecting through a racialized filter is still one too many. Surprisingly, conservative bloggers don’t seem too upset about oppressive behavior by government agents when they target minorities. 


[Update: Corporal David Eric Casebolt has voluntarily resigned from the McKinney Police Department, according to the New York Times. Casebolt will keep his benefits and pension but remains under investigation.] 


Reach Opinion Editor Ashley Yang here, or follow her on Twitter.



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