Sunday, July 17, 2005

Holy Psychotic Racially-Motivated Police Brutality Against Children, Batman!

So I saw this in my BBC News email this morning, and I read it, and I thought, 'Wow, that's fucked, they're charging an 11-year-old girl with felony assault for hucking a rock at a bully.'

And I thought no more about it, until CM directed my attention to the more striking details of the story, which the Beeb in its culturally-sensitive wisdom chose to play down. (If that link wants you to register, go here and click on the San Jose Mercury News story. That should work, though according to what arcane logic I cannot say.)

Let me give you the gist: Maribel Cuevas, 11-year-old Spanish-speaking girl from a poor neighborhood in Fresno, California (decidedly low-income, crime-ridden and generally insalubrious, for those unfamiliar), was being harassed by local boys and pelted with water balloons. She threw a rock at one of the boys and gashed his head, leading to stitches and immediate release from hospital. Police showed up in three squad cars and a helicopter, restrained her on the ground with a knee in her back, cuffed her and carted her off to juvie where she was kept for five nights, allowed to see her family only once,
for half an hour the day after the incident. An eleven-year-old girl. After she was released from detention, she was kept under house arrest with an ankle monitor for another 3 weeks.

She's being prosecuted for felony assault with a deadly weapon, and police continue to insist their response was appropriate.
"We responded. We determined a felony assault had taken place and the officers took the actions that were necessary," said Fresno Police Sgt. Anthony Martinez.
Officers denied that their response was influenced by the setting - a low-income, largely minority neighborhood - or language difficulties - Maribel's family speaks limited English, and the responding don't speak Spanish.
Uh-fucking-huh. Like they would have shown up in riot gear for a rock tossed in Beverly Hills. Like they would have knelt on the back of a white girl who spoke English, and locked her up for 5 nights without visits from her family. The racist and classist motivations of this brutality are stunningly obvious, and the refusal of the police to back down from their stance appalling.

Interesting there are no statements from any local officials or politicians; where's Alan Autry, the Mayor of Fresno, in all this? Oddly silent. Nor does his Community Contract for Kids make any mention of a SWAT response policy for street scuffles.

Could it be because, though he proclaims himself 'the person responsible for forging the absolutely essential connection between our city and our children’s future', he, his government and his police force really don't consider children like Maribel Cuevas 'ours'?

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