clock menu more-arrow no yes

How black kids like the ones in McKinney, Texas, can stay safe around cops: stop being black

In shocking video footage made public over the weekend, a McKinney, Texas, police officer is seen pulling his gun on a group of unarmed black teens leaving a pool party, and violently wrestling a bikini-clad girl to the ground, slamming her head against the grass and sitting with his knees on her back as she begged for help.

The cop has been identified as Eric Casebolt by Zahid Arab, a local reporter at Fox 4 . Police say his conduct in the video has "raised concerns" and that he's been placed on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated.

There will be an inevitable debate about whether the force he used was excessive, and we'll possibly even hear an argument that he feared for his own life and safety. Whether he'll be found to have violated the law or department guidelines remains to be seen. But to people who understand how deeply seated anti-black bias is among Americans, to those who know how implicit bias affects police actions, and to anyone who's had the opportunity to compare their experiences with policing in communities of different races, one thing seems perfectly clear: none of this would have happened had the kids involved been white.

Very Smart Brothas' Damon Young made the point perfectly in a piece headlined "What those kids in McKinney should have done to prevent the cops from assaulting them." His list:

1. Don't be Black

2. Don't be Black around the police

3. Be White kids

(You can read the whole piece here.)

It's a fair conclusion to draw simply from the way the incident fits into a long, disturbing pattern of excessive force and overpolicing for minor offenses by police, directed largely at black people and black communities.

But what we know so far about the specifics of this incident seems to back up Young's assessment as well. "I think a bunch of white parents were angry that a bunch of black kids who don't live in the neighborhood were in the pool," Brandon Brooks, the 15-year-old who uploaded the video to YouTube, wrote. Others who were at the pool told BuzzFeed News's David Mack that the police were called after a fight broke out at the pool when the adults made comments telling the black children to leave the area and return to "Section 8 [public] housing."

Watch: The myth of race, debunked in 3 minutes