'Racism still all over it': Arrest of black mother disturbs community
"I just felt like I didn't get justice for what I called for, basically," Jacqueline Craig said at a press conference on Thursday evening outside the Fort Worth Police Department. Craig, a black woman, had been released from jail earlier in the day following her violent arrest by a white Fort Worth police officer one day prior. Video of the incident, posted to Facebook by Craig's cousin, Porsha Craver, has been viewed more than 2.5 million times.
On December 21, Craig, 46, called the Fort Worth Police Department to report an alleged assault on her seven-year-old son by a neighbor who, the family said, grabbed Craig's son by the neck after the boy littered. A Fort Worth officer arrived on the scene, but was confrontational with Craig, who tried to make the point that the neighbor should have addressed her about the littering and not taken discipline into his own hands.
"Why don't you teach your son not to litter?" the cop asked.
"It doesn't matter if he did [litter] or didn't, that doesn't give him the right to put his hands on him," Craig responded.
"Why not?" the officer then said as tensions began to rise among the officer, Craig, her daughters, and Craver.
Wielding a Taser, the officer would go on to aggressively arrest Craig and two of her daughters, Brea Hymond, 19, and Jacques Craig, 15. Jacqueline Craig was charged with resisting arrest and for outstanding traffic warrants, according to reports. She and her daughters were released from custody by Thursday afternoon.
"I'm very distraught because what I felt I was doing was actually protecting my child and it didn't happen," Craig said at the press conference as she was surrounded by family and their attorney, Lee Merritt. "It made me feel less of a parent that I couldn't protect him when he needed it."
On Thursday, the Fort Worth Police Department said it had opened an investigation into the incident, and that the officer responsible has been placed on restricted duty. The department will not identify the officer nor release his body camera footage while the investigation is taking place.
"We acknowledge that the initial appearance of the video may raise serious questions," the department said in a statement on Thursday. "We ask that our investigators are given the time and opportunity to thoroughly examine this incident and to submit their findings."
White mother would not have been arrested – community
Around 150 people gathered Thursday night at the Tarrant County Courthouse to rally in protest of the arrests, according to reports. Demonstrators called for the dismissal of the officer, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
"It's time to stand up and protect your community," LaShadion Anthony said, according to the Dallas Morning News. "If you came out here for a kumbaya, you came to the wrong place."
The crowd grew restless during the rally, especially when eight Fort Worth officers arrived on bicycles, the Morning News reported.
Police just pulled up to the Fort Worth protest, and took someone away right after I took this photo. pic.twitter.com/pViGU3IAVp— Nathan Berry (@nbcello) December 23, 2016
"We know that if that had been a black man grabbing the throat of a white boy, he’d be in jail right now," said Cory Hughes, an organizer of the rally, according to the Star-Telegram.
At the press conference earlier in the evening, Merritt echoed those sentiments, saying that though no racial slurs were used, "racism is still all over it."
So is the guy who choked the 7 year old under arrest?....or just the mother who called for help the only one?...fire him!.fort worth police— lisa shandaye (@ShandayeLisa) December 23, 2016
"If a white mother had called police about their son being choked, I guarantee that the officer would not have bypassed the suspect and arrested the mother," he said.
Merritt said that the aggressive encounter was an attack on Fort Worth's black residents, not just Craig's family.
"I believe the singular most offensive thing [about the incident] is that this is a parent who believed that she could call a police officer to the scene to help her in a time of need," Merritt said at the press conference.
"And instead of being able to protect her or her child, she was assaulted. Two of her children were arrested and terrorized. And it sent a signal to the seven-year-old, who was just assaulted by a neighbor, that he could never rely on police officers for protection. Because when police were called to protect him, they arrested his mom and his sisters. That's an attack on this family, but it's an attack on the African-American community. And I believe that's why you're seeing such a strong reaction, really across the world."
This campaign has been verified by the family and We encourage your support! https://t.co/47PNmUTEwQ— S. Lee Merritt (@MeritLaw) December 23, 2016
Terry Daffron, counsel for the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas and legal representative for the officer, called for patience while the investigation takes place.
"As has become the norm in our society, the video does not show the entire interaction between the officer and the individuals on the scene," Daffron said in a statement, according to the Star-Telegram. "It is shameful that there is an immediate rush to judgment that my client is a racist cop simply because of the color of his skin. ... I am confident that when all of the facts, evidence, and information come to light, it will present a different account of the events."