Revolution #270, May 27, 2012

Houston Cop Acquitted of Savage Beating of Black Youth

We received the following correspondence from Houston:

On May 16, a Houston jury acquitted Houston Police Department cop Andrew Blomberg of "official oppression" in the savage beating of Chad Holley, a Black youth who was 15 at the time two years ago when he was knocked to the ground by a patrol car that tried to run him down and pin him against a chain-link fence. Holley was then brutally stomped, kicked, and hit for several minutes by six Houston pigs.

The courtroom was packed with Holley's supporters—and also with HPD cops in uniform who were there to try to intimidate people. Dozens of people in and outside the courtroom erupted in outrage and anger at the verdict, and that anger spilled into the streets in front of the Harris County Courthouse. One man shouted, "Where is the justice? Where is the justice? There is no justice in this place. This place has been a path to the oppression of my people, and it continues, right now."

The next day, hundreds of people rallied and marched in downtown Houston, demanding justice for Chad, and the conviction of his assailants. People linked the savage beating of Holley with the murder of Trayvon Martin and the persecution of Black youth generally. Most of the people who protested were not longtime activists, but came out because they felt they had to express their outrage at this verdict. Some came with their own homemade signs. On May 17, three people were arrested for blocking entry to the District Attorney’s office—lying face down, with hands on their heads, like Chad Holley when he was assaulted by HPD. The protesters were mainly Black. There were also some white and Latino people who came to express their anger.

Fury at this verdict is pulsing throughout the city, and further protests and meetings are planned. James Dixon, a prominent Black minister, said the verdict "... is pathetic. It is unacceptable. This kind of expression says to me, to my children and to every Black child in the city, 'Your life is not worth manure.'"

Holley was arrested in March 2010. He was accused and later convicted and sentenced to probation for burglary. His arrest was caught on the cell phone of a woman who lived near the incident. For months the video was suppressed and not allowed to be shown anywhere outside of the police and prosecutor's offices because it was regarded as too "incendiary."

But a copy of it began showing on local TV and YouTube in late January 2011. It shows that after Chad Holley was knocked to the ground by a police car, he quickly lay face down on the grass and put his hands on the back of his head. And it shows that he was then immediately attacked by a swarm of cops, including Blomberg, who pummeled him over his entire body for several minutes.

The middle-aged white woman who recorded the beating told local media she had lost her job and her home because she gave the video to a local Black activist, who then made it public. She said, "I had to do it and I'd do it again ... That tape is really, really bad. It was inhumane the way they treated him—stomped him, punched him over and over and over again, kicked him in the face. I just hope that every sacrifice that I've made will keep other people from doing what they did and make police officers more accountable for what they do."

The entire court case and so-called "prosecution" of Blomberg was a sick joke from beginning to end, with the entire affair crafted to use the power of the District Attorney's office to acquit him. The prosecutor, Clint Greenwood, is the same man responsible for trying the case against the cops who shot and paralyzed Robbie Tolan, another Black youth, in the driveway of his middle-class parent's home after they assaulted his mother. Those cops were also acquitted. Immediately after the verdict was announced, Greenwood shook the hands of Blomberg and his attorney. Blomberg was tried in front of an all-white jury, in a city which a recent study by Rice University determined to be the most ethnically diverse in the country.

The all-white jury and the verdict in this case reminds many people of the days, not all that long ago, when the Ku Klux Klan openly recruited in HPD locker rooms and Black people never served on Harris County juries. But for many people, the anger that simmers throughout the city is also raising big questions about how this whole ongoing system of racist oppression can actually be brought to an end. People were very receptive to the message of revolution brought to the rallies by a small team of revolutionaries. More rallies and mass meetings are being planned.

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