Sunday, June 27, 2010
Judge Dick Ambrose Dismisses Charge Against Black Female Student Of Police Assault At Request Of Prosecutor Mason And As Racial Unrest Was Mounting
Two Articles by Kathy Wray Coleman, reposted from: The Weekly Determiner
From the Metro Desk of the DeterminerWeekly.Com and the Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog and Media Network
Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Dick Ambrose on Wednesday granted a request by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason's office to dismiss charges of two counts of assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest against Collinwood High School student Destini Bronaugh, bringing the case to a current close. The dismissal comes less than a week after a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury indicted the Black girl, who was arrested May 13 along with her younger sister, DeAsia Bronaugh, in what community activists and local Civil Rights organizations say was retaliation for participating in an organized student walkout at Collinwood High School in Cleveland around teacher layoffs and the slated closings of what is now 14 of Cleveland's public schools.
"We are pleased that County Prosecutor Bill Mason, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Cleveland NAACP Executive Director Stanley Miller and other leaders in the community were able to come together to ensure the dismissal of the malicious, racist, sexist and retaliatory charges against a Black female student who did nothing other than to exercise her constitutional right under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to speak out on Cleveland schools issues of public concern, " said Kathy Wray Coleman, a Cleveland area journalist and leader of the Imperial Women, a grassroots group formed last year after the remains of 11 Black women were found at the home of suspected serial killer Anthony Sowell. "Had the charges not been dismissed we were prepared to protest and I have never seen such motivation in the community around such a matter and in support of what would have been a mass community protest. If any further action is taken against the Bronaugh family, including more harassment, we shall again mobilize to make it clear that we will not permit anybody to do in Black girls and other children in this community without standing up."
The unprecedented arrest of the girls, which involved three White male police officers hot on their trail, was caught on video by community activist Caleb Maupin, leader of the grassroots organization dubbed Cleveland F.I.S.T. It is posted on the YouTube website where it has generated over 12,000 hits under the title "Cleveland Police Brutalize Student Protesters." And without a doubt, racial unrest in Cleveland's grassroots, educational and Black communities was mounting around the arrests of the Black girls, whose mother would not back down.
"I had no prior knowledge of the protest, though my daughters have a constitutional right under the First Amendment to speak out on school issues like others," Tina Bronaugh told the DeterminerWeekly.Com and the Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog and Media Network after community groups such as the Imperial Women, Black on Black Crime Inc, the Oppressed People's Nation, the Carl Stokes Brigade, the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network, and the People's Forum began planning for a mass protest in support of the girls.
DeAsia Bronaugh, 17, had not been charged with assault and a Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge dismissed a curfew violation charge filed by police against her after a Collinwood High School teacher wrote a note saying allegedly that both girls came back in the school following the walkout after she asked them to and security at the school put them out for police to allegedly harass and arrest them. Destini Bronaugh, 19, was arrested by police after she questioned the arrest of her younger sister that day relative to the since dismissed curfew violation charge.
The Cleveland Board of Education voted to close 14 schools earlier this year and in April laid off 545 district teachers, 111 assistant principals and principals and 116 support staff. Ten of the assistant principals and principals were subsequently recalled, and teachers at low performing schools that were not laid off must reapply to teach at their current schools, an issue now before an arbitrator pursuant to a grievance recently filed by the Cleveland Teachers Union. The layoffs are part of a sweeping and costly schools transformation plan that mirrors similar transformation models in big cities such as Philadelphia and Chicago where, like Cleveland, teachers unions are feeling the heat and are fighting what is perceived by some as attempts to break the unions. Black leaders, however, are traditionally laying low and in a quandary, with some undecided as to whether the school transformation plans, including Cleveland's, are either long over due, or a mechanism for disaster.
The Cleveland Metropolitan School District is predominantly Black and the city of Cleveland has some 433,000 majority Black residents.
Below is an earlier article, release prior to the dropping of the charges against Destini.
Mother Of Black Collinwood High School Student Indicted For Allegedly Assaulting White Police Officer Speaks Out And Seeks Meeting With Mayor Jackson
(Editors Note: A legal defense fund titled "Bronaugh Girls Benevolent Fund" has been set up for donations at Key Bank nationally for Cleveland Collinwood High School Students Destini and DeAsia Bronaugh. The article below touches on their dilemma)
The mother of a Black Cleveland schools student indicted last week by a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury and charged with felony assault on a White male Cleveland Fifth District police officer following an arrest in connection with a student protest is speaking out in support of her daughter.
Tina Bronaugh, 41, the mother of 19-year-old indicted Collinwood High School student Destini Bronaugh, who is slated to graduate this summer, has stepped up as an articulate spokesperson for the Bronaugh family after a brutal arrest outside of the school on May 13 of Destini Bronaugh and her younger sister, DeAsia Bronaugh. The unprecedented arrest of the girls, which involved three White male police officers hot on their trail, was caught on video by community activist Caleb Maupin, leader of the grassroots organization dubbed Cleveland F.I.S.T. Both girls were allegedly harassed by police and Collinwood High School security guards for participating last month in an organized student walkout to protest district wide teacher layoffs and the slated closings of what is now 14 area schools.
The Cleveland Board of Education voted to close the 14 schools earlier this year and in April laid off 545 district teachers, 111 assistant principals and principals and 116 support staff. Ten of the assistant principals and principals were subsequently recalled, and teachers at low performing schools that were not laid off must reapply to teach at their current schools, an issue now before an arbitrator pursuant to a grievance recently filed by the Cleveland Teachers Union.
"I had no prior knowledge of the protest, though my daughters have a constitutional right under the First Amendment to speak out on school issues like others," said the elder Bronaugh. "I say to the Cuyahoga Grand Jury shame on you and we know the indictment is for harassment purposes where the video shows no assault, which requires knowingly causing physical harm or the intent to cause physical harm."
DeAsia Bronaugh, 17, has not been charged with assault and a Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge dismissed a curfew violation filed by police against her after a Collinwood High School teacher wrote a note saying allegedly that both girls came back in the school after she asked them to and security at the school put them out for police to allegedly harass them.
"I would like to meet with Mayor Frank Jackson in anticipation that he will speak up in support of my daughters, given that data show that no assault happened," said Bronaugh. "Black children do not shed their constitutional rights either at the schoolhouse gate or on their way home from school."
Brounaugh said that Destini Bronaugh was further harassed where instead of processing her at the Fifth District Police Station that is a block from the school police took her to the Cuyahoga County Jail with felons in an alleged effort to intimidate her. And, said Bronaugh, when she was arraigned before Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Kathleen Ann Keough on May 18 on the charge of assaulting arresting Cleveland police officer Robert Ricketti, the judge was allegedly rude to her daughter. After the arraignment the case was bound over to the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas for review and subsequent determination by the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury of whether probable cause existed to indict Destini Bronaugh.
"She was rude," said Bronaugh of Keough, 50, a controversial judge with a reputation of violating state law and harassing Black women that come before her on bogus criminal charges.
Bronaugh said she assumed that the case would be dismissed before the since initiated indictment, after she met on May 23 with a slew of some 23 Cleveland city officials, Cleveland NAACP Executive Director Stanley Miller and Ward 10 councilman Eugene Miller, who sent a letter to the Bronaugh sisters dated May 25 stating that he is "truly sorry about what happen on May 13."
"Since the so-called curfew violation was dismissed and police arrested DeAsia for that, and Destini was arrested for speaking up for her younger sister, how could the Grand Jury indict Destini?," said Bronaugh. "The indictment on the assault charge is a smokescreen to compensate for the fact that a juvenile court judge dismissed the so-called curfew violation, which was the basis of the illegal arrest of my daughter DeAsia."
Black and other Cleveland politicians, including members of Cleveland City Council, have not spoken out publicly for the Bronaugh girls and in the midst of their silence a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury moved forward last week with the indictment against Destini Bronaugh, one easily questionable since the video of the arrest taken by Maupin shows no assault.
Cuyahoga County Grand Jury indictments are routinely the subject of discussion in the Black community, and rightfully so. Former Cleveland NAACP President and Antioch Baptist Church Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Marvin McMickle, has said that his experience as a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury Foreman reminded him of an "apartheid" venue that indicts Blacks without probable cause and simply because of their skin color.
Bronaugh said that Cleveland F.I.S.T. did not encourage her daughters to join in the protest and that she has since thanked Maupin for being there on the spot with his video camera. The video of the arrest is posted on the YouTube website where it has generated over 12,000 hits under the title "Cleveland Police Brutalize Student Protesters."
"Had the incident not been on video the harassment of my daughters probably would have been worse," said Bronaugh. "We appreciate Caleb Maupin for being there when it counted."
Bronaugh, who said she has had trouble sleeping since the incident, is in the process of working out an attorney-client agreement with prominent Cleveland criminal defense attorney Terry Gilbert to represent her daughters. Destiny Bronaugh, who is out on bond, faces up to 18 months in prison on each of the two counts for a total of 36 months, if convicted of assault on a peace officer, a felony of the fourth degree. She is also charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest, a charge that is not explicitly specified, though she faces either six months or 90 days in jail if convicted in this instance.
Arraignment in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas is scheduled for July 1 at 8:30 am in the Arraignment Room.