By Bonnie Weinstein
A BBC News report on January 20, 2005 boggles the mind. A white, policeman, Jeremy Morse, who was filmed punching sixteen-year-old Donovan Jackson, a Black youth, and slamming him against a car, was awarded $1.6 million in a “reverse discrimination” case brought against the Los Angeles Police Department.
Millions of television viewers saw clear footage of Morse, one of two white officers involved, holding the boy’s head and repeatedly slamming it against the hood of a car—the boy with his hands cuffed and behind his back.
Morse was fired. Bijan Darvish, the other white officer on the scene was suspended for ten days for not reporting Morse’s violence in his police report. Darvish was subsequently acquitted of that charge (even though the video clearly shows it) and was awarded a lesser amount of $811,000 in the reverse discrimination case.
Willie Crook, the Black officer on the scene, was suspended for four days—also for not reporting Morse’s violent behavior toward sixteen-year-old Jackson.
Morse and Darvish, the two white officers, filed a claim stating that Crook was just as much involved as they were but was given a lighter punishment because he was Black. Morse and Darvish claimed they were treated more harshly because they were white, so-called reverse discrimination.
Morse was twice tried for assault against young Donavan Jackson, but the case was dismissed after juries failed to reach a verdict.
Police Chief Banks, who is also Black, and who fired Morse, and disciplined Darvish and Crook, denied that race was a factor.
“I based my decision on their actions and what I thought their responsibility was. It was based purely on the facts,” he said after hearing news of the award. “I was shocked at not only the verdict but the size of the awards. It was somewhat ridiculous.”
Only the racist American justice system could come up with such a disgraceful and outrageous result to a beating caught on tape. The message however is loud and clear. Racism is rewarded and the victim is demonized.
It’s hard even to tell the story. A white policeman, because he beat up a kid and gets punished the most for it, gets awarded $1.6 million of taxpayer money because the Black officer only got four days of suspension—even though all three were involved in the same crime. Yes, crime. Let’s not forget what this case is really about.
It’s about the commonplace police beatings of young boys like Donavan Jackson—caught on tape—exposing to the world, again, the treatment received for the “crime” of “driving or walking in the street while Black.”
Just as with the brutal beating of Rodney King—another incident of routine police brutality in the U.S.— this beating has been documented and exposed. But how many will hear of the two million dollar reward given to these brutal cops?
This BBC news story of these diabolical rewards is not really widely reported. Everyone will, however, remember the video of the beating of a young, handcuffed, unarmed boy by three grown men in uniform. The overwhelming force they used against him will be burned into the memory of everyone who saw the tape or the still photo—just as we remember the relentless beating of Rodney King.
Racism is built into capitalism. The laws are written by capitalist lawyers and put into effect by capitalist politicians, and upheld by the police and the largest military apparatus in the world, owned lock, stock and barrel by those very same capitalists.
The laws are written in their interests only. This is their justice. And the money they hoard and accumulate is the means to their power—to their ability to arm themselves—to rule the world.
The struggles for peace, freedom, equality, democracy and justice for all—these are our strengths. These are what stand on the side of all humanity and the planet and a beautiful tomorrow.
—BBC News, January 20, 2005