Monday, February 14, 2011
Whitby Verdicts Cover Up Real Hate Crime
By Sharon Danann
Published Feb 13, 2011 8:56 PM
An Ohio jury returned verdicts in the trial of Rebecca Whitby, daughter, and Rebecca Whitby, mother, on Feb. 7, acquitting them on most of the charges. The younger woman, however, was found guilty of one count of resisting arrest and one count of assaulting a police officer with her saliva. The incident occurred in April 2009 after police were called to mediate a family dispute.
Mother Whitby was found guilty of obstruction of justice because she threw her body over her daughter to shield her from punches in the face. Sentencing will be on March 7.
While the defense attorneys did not raise this point in their summation, supporters of the two women say that at least eight white officers positioned themselves on the Whitbys’ front porch while the two white cops who responded to the call were upstairs beating up the younger Whitby. The Rebecca Whitby Defense Committee says the two cops upstairs never had time to summon help after they arrived, so they must have called for backup on their way to the Whitby house.
The women and other witnesses say that this large group of officers, who had seemingly no particular reason for being on the scene, brutalized the 23-year-old woman while using racial slurs such as the n-word and derogatory sexual language. That’s why the defense committee has raised slogans demanding charges against the cops and has discussed the case as a preplanned hate crime. It was another skirmish in the war on the Black people and the women of Cleveland.
Hate crime perpetrated by blue uniforms
The attack would have been more recognizable as a hate crime had it not been hidden behind blue uniforms and covered up through intricate machinations at the jail and subsequently at the hospital. The situation was further obscured by the 10 felony charges filed against the daughter and the three felony charges against the mother after they had the courage to request an investigation into the use of excessive force by the police.
The jury asked to see this complaint, but Judge Daniel Gaul denied their request.
On Feb. 3, while the jury was on a break, the most recent example of the thug tactics that permeate the police and judicial system in Cleveland occurred right in the courtroom.
Christine Martin, one of the white neighbors who testified for the defense, gave details of the officers’ violent acts. These included kicking and tasing the younger Whitby, already limp and semiconscious, on the front porch.
Martin says that as she was leaving the courtroom after completing her testimony, Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Lingle asked a deputy sheriff to arrest her. In front of numerous witnesses, the sheriff said to Martin, “Life’s a b — ch,” while he handcuffed her roughly, injuring her wrists and shoulder blades in the process, and transported her back into the courtroom.
In the courtroom Martin was told there was a warrant for her for possession of drugs. Prosecutor Sherrie Royster laughed openly at Martin, who was visibly upset, crying and demanding to have her birth date and Social Security number compared to those on the warrant. Other observers came from the judge’s chambers to laugh and smile at the obvious discomfort of the defense witness. Lingle commented, “She got what she deserved.”
Then, as suddenly as the arrest, someone realized that the outstanding warrant was for a person who did, in fact, have a different birth date. Martin was free to go, but only after she had been thoroughly terrorized for breaking ranks with the racists and having the integrity to tell the truth about an abusive situation.
Marva Patterson, aunt of the younger Whitby, stated, “Judge Gaul was so mad at the verdicts — you could fry an egg on his head. The verdicts were much better than anything offered in plea bargaining. The courtroom was packed with family and supporters.”
The Whitbys are maintaining their fighting spirit. Their attorneys have already filed appeals.
The defense committee is asking people to contact Martin Flask, Director of the Department of Public Safety, 601 Lakeside Ave., Rm. 230, Cleveland, OH 44114; phone 216-664-2200; fax 216-664-3734. Let him know that it’s time for Officers James Bryant and Mitchell Sheehan to face charges for excessive use of force for punching, kicking and using tasers when all they were faced with was misdemeanor spittle — which they probably squeezed out of Whitby when the two landed on her.
They also need to face charges for many instances of falsification of records and cover-up of their crimes.
If cops can be convicted in New Orleans for killing people at a bridge crossing without reason, they can be convicted in Cleveland. The organized forces of hate often turn in their sheets for blue uniforms, prosecutors’ suits and judges’ robes. But we will fight back against their war of terror, and together we will win!