By Deborah Goonan
ICYMI, here’s the uncut video of Officer Eric Casebolt in action at Friday night’s incidents in McKinney, Texas. NPR reports that it took 10 police units to calm the chaos, and several Craig Ranch HOA residents are thankful for their assistance. Still, several experts question the level of response by Casebolt, alleging excessive force.
As with other recent events involving police encounters with black youths, there is once again debate about the role race played in instigating the conflict, and in how it was handled.
Benet Embry, a black resident of Craig Ranch, reports that the community itself is racially diverse, and neighbors get along. He says each household is allowed to have two guests at the pool. Apparently uninvited guests crashed the party, inciting a conflict when security guards tried to stop them from entering the private pool.
Embry appears in this NBC News video. He insists that when police arrived to break up a pool party in Craig Ranch Community, the incident was “not about race.”
Unfortunately, even though Casebolt has been put on administrative leave pending a full investigation, Embry’s statement to the media has resulted in backlash.
Several others who witnessed the party-goers have alleged that racial slurs were flying, and that a few Residents allegedly told the black teens to “go back to your Section 8 housing.” Check out this video testimony from the host of the party. Scroll down to the end of the article to see the video of a brief physical fight between two adult women and one teenage girl, filmed shortly before the police arrived.
Was racial discrimination a factor?
Looking at all of the reports combined, it appears that the conflict at Craig Ranch was technically not about race. Apparently, the community has a significant number of non-white residents. Instead, this was about the fact that some unruly youths showed up as uninvited guests, and then attempted to enter the community pool — a facility that, by its very nature, excludes non-members of the community.
The remarks allegedly made about Section 8 housing DO indicate an attitude of discrimination and intolerance for people of lower social class, and there is no question that income distribution and race are related. Either way, it got ugly.
To put the matter in context, the city of McKinney has a history of housing discrimination, and was sanctioned as recently as 2008. The details are explained here.
But what makes this particular discussion about excessive police power and racial overtones different from other recent events, is the fact that this time, at least one prominent news outlet is talking about the role private residential communities play in creating conflict. This is a good thing for housing and consumer advocates seeking meaningful policy change.
In her recent blog, Emily Badger at the Washington Post questions the role that HOA communities play in exacerbating racial tensions.
It’s quite interesting to read the comments following Badger’s blog. They give the reader a glimpse of the attitudes one will find in a typical HOA community.
UPDATE: June 9, 2015, 8:45 PM. Several news outlets are now reporting Eric Casebolt’s resignation.