By now the names Eric Casebolt and McKinney are well known to anyone who saw the viral video of a police officer responding to a pool-party disturbance. Casebolt, the McKinney, Texas, police officer at the center of the controversy, is seen pinning down a 15-year-old black girl in her bathing suit. The girl’s name is Dajerria Becton, and a growing public movement called "Say Her Name" wants to make sure you remember it.
More than two weeks before the pool-party video emerged, a "Say Her Name" vigil was held in New York City to remind everyone that black women, too, are victims of police brutality. Like Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Freddie Gray -- just a few of the black men killed by white police officers exonerated for their deaths -- black women harassed and killed by the police also need to be remembered, "Say Her Name" advocates argue. Their names and stories are being used to galvanize the overhaul of what is characterized by the Black Lives Matter movement as a racist, overmilitarized police force in the United States.
Names like 22-year-old Rekia Boyd of Chicago, who happened to be with a group of friends when they were fired upon by off-duty police Officer Dante Servin, who was the only one armed. She was killed by his bullet, and he received a not guilty verdict.
Aiyana Jones was 7 years old in 2010 when, sleeping on the couch of the Detroit home she shared with her uncle, whom police were looking for, was first the victim of burns when a flash grenade police threw into the living room caused her blanket to catch fire. Police Officer Joseph Weekley then shot her in the head, killing her instantly. The involuntary manslaughter charges against him were dropped for lack of evidence.
"Say Her Name" wants names like Shereese Francis, 30, remembered. Francis was a schizophrenic woman who wound up suffocated to death by police after her sister called EMT to ask them to take her to the hospital to persuade her to take her medication.
"He grabbed me, twisted my arm on my back, and shoved me in the grass and started pulling the back of my braids," Becton told KDFW Dallas on Sunday. "I was telling him to get off me because my back was hurting bad. Him getting fired is not enough," she said. Casebolt is now on administrative leave.
"The video acts as a prime example of the inherent reality of both physical and sexual harassment against black women and girls at the hands of cops," wrote Zeba Blay on the Huffington Post, who likened it to the clip that went viral last year showing California Highway Patrol Officer Daniel Andrew repeatedly punching 51-year-old Marlene Pinnock by the side of the road.
"Equally as problematic as his brute force was the compromising and dehumanizing position the patrolman had her in. Andrew straddled Pinnock as he beat her, with her torso and bra exposed," wrote Blay.
For Elle's Chaedria Labouvier, there’s an irony that we don’t often hear about violence against black women. “[B]ut part of the reason we’re talking about police brutality nationally is because of the tireless work of black women. Their own pain ignored, they stand at the forefront, center and behind the Black Lives Matter Movement; hell, they created it. And organized the marches.
“And they are victims of police brutality too. And those victims are unnamed to the American public.”