Can the Rev. Al be far behind?
An argument at a public pool in Fairfield, Ohio, escalated into a brawl and four arrests last week – then turned racial on Tuesday when a prominent local black clergyman held a news conference to denounce what he called police brutality, complete with a broken jaw and broken ribs.
But that seems about as true as “hands up, don’t shoot” turned out to be.
The mother of a 12-year-old girl involved in the fight claimed the girl suffered a broken jaw and three broken ribs while being arrested, but EMTs on the scene recorded no injuries other than “the side effects of pepper spray,” the Hamilton Journal-News reported.
The mother refused to discuss her daughter’s alleged injury at a news conference about the incident Tuesday, but the Rev. Bobby Hilton of Word Deliverance Ministries in Forest Park, Ohio, told reporters he is angry the public has sided with the police in the incident.
“We’re sick of it … now every black teenager is some scary bugaboo,” he said.
But police brutality isn’t the impression the video gives. As the Journal-News puts it:
In the footage, where loud screams are heard throughout, an officer is seen pulling a young girl away from the crowd with his arm around her neck and arm as he puts her against a vehicle and pulls her arms behind her back. The girl screams throughout before finally saying, “Ok, Ok.” Another male officer is seen using pepper spray on a young girl who is clinging desperately to an iron gate as a female officer grabs her around the neck in an attempt to dislodge her. The officer can be heard shouting, “Just let go of the gate…Get off the gate.”
The news conference might have come a week after the pool melee, but the racism charges were on everyone’s minds from the get-go.
As a caller to 911 put it, according to the Journal-News:
“They’re videotaping, trying to make it look like a racist thing, and it’s not at all. They were breaking our policies. We told them they couldn’t be here anymore, and it’s really scary and I don’t feel safe.”
The details about what actually happened at the pool are still murky, but one thing at least two things are pretty clear.
One is that, as Police Chief Michael Dickey told a local television station, nothing would have happened if the kids had just left the pool when they were asked to.
The other is that no one complained about a broken jaw at the time. Besides the EMTs who didn’t report the allegedly broken jaw, two of the teens involved were treated at a local hospital and released. No broken ribs there either, as it turns out.
Think someone’s lying?
A Fairfield City Council member told the Cincinnati Enquirer he was afraid the whole dispute is “being tried in the media.”
“In all those kinds of video, you don’t know what came before,” he said of recordings made by bystanders. “I did not see any excessive force. It appears the police were attempting to restrain the teens in a professional way.”
“It’s a sad situation whenever you have a confrontation between an officer and a group of people, it’s always a volatile situation.”
It’s volatile when people want to make it that way, anyway.
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