The night of June 5, police were called to a pool party because, the reports said, a group of black kids had crashed the party and were being disruptive. A variety of young people of various races were there. Their comments and cellphone video have allowed the world observe the actions of the police (mostly on Cpl. Eric Casebolt), and youth.
In the seven-plus-minute video that Brandon Brooks, a 15-year-old white student who says police ignored him, took, Casebolt is seen yelling and cursing at the young people, many of them under 18. He makes several of them sit or lie on the ground, and at one point, wrestles 15-year-old Dejerrica Becton to the ground. When two young black males try to come to her aid, the officers pulls his gun and aims it at them.
He then takes Becton's hair and pushes her face-down. He sits on her back, as she cries and wants to call her mother. Soon, another officer handcuffs her, although she was later released.
Since the pool-party video's release last weekend, I have been talking with family, friends, colleagues and clients about their reactions, thoughts and feelings. A number of them asked if I could develop a list of questions and discussion points for them to consider for self-reflection and discussion. I thought I would share them here.
My first request is that you watch the video Brandon Brooks posted in its entirety. While you may have seen clips of the video on the news, it is important to see and hear the full 7.5 minutes. As you watch the video, I want you to imagine the following:
The girl is your own daughter, granddaughter, niece, sister, cousin or friend; You were physically there witnessing this; You were the person recording this; You were a fellow police officer.
After watching the video, consider the following questions for self-reflection and discussion.
- If the girl was your own daughter, granddaughter, niece, sister, cousin or friend ... What are the initial feelings and reactions that arise for you? What would you want to know from the officer? From the residents in the neighborhood? From the McKinney Police Department? What would you need in order to support your young relative and family in healing from this?
- If you were physically there witnessing this ... What actions might you have considered? How likely that this might this occur in your community? What would you do to assure that something like this doesn't happen? Now that several days have passed, what follow-up actions, if any, would you consider?
- Brandon Brooks was the 15-year-old young man who recorded and posted the video. If you had witnessed something similar, would you have had the capacity and demeanor (notice how calm and quiet Brandon was) to record and post a video? Brandon Brooks, who is white, reported: "Everyone who was getting put on the ground was black, Mexican, Arabic. (The cop) didn't even look at me. It was kind of like I was invisible." Do you think this video would have been received differently if Brandon was black? Why or why not? Do you think recording law enforcement is a fair tactic for community members? Why or why not?
- Casebolt is the police officer featured in the video. What do you think motivated him to behave the way he did? What justifications might he have for treating the young men and women in this manner and drawing his weapon on them? Notice the other officers who were treating everyone calmly and respectfully. How might the situation have turned out differently if Casebolt behaved in that manner? If you were an officer on the scene and you witnessed Officer Casebolt's behavior, what would you have done? What does the McKinney Police Department need to do to engage the community in next steps? (Note: Casebolt has been placed on administrative leave).
- What's next? How can we as individuals, communities and the nation prevent these occurrences from escalating? What can you do? What will you do?
Kevin Fong, who lives in San Francisco, is a nationally recognized and respected facilitator, trainer and speaker in leadership and executive development and organizational systems, philosophy and design. Visit elementalpartners.net.