Sunday, May 8, 2011

Police Brutality Victim Rebecca Whitby, Free!

By Workers World Cleveland bureau
Published May 6, 2011 9:09 PM

On April 27, family and supporters of Rebecca Whitby cheered and celebrated on the steps of the Justice Center, the site of nearly two years of rallies, as they waited for 25-year-old Rebecca Whitby to be released. Following a brutal, unprovoked beating by two Cleveland police officers in April 2009, Whitby refused to take a plea deal to false charges. Her courageous, principled stand inspired a high-spirited campaign.

“This shows the power of unity,” Tim Walker, Whitby’s father, declared to WW.

Whitby’s mother, also named Rebecca Whitby, was radiant with excitement at her daughter’s return. “This is a huge relief. Rebecca’s baby needs her. She’s been real sick,” she told WW.

Judge Daniel Gaul sent Whitby to Ohio Reformatory for Women on March 8, telling her that she needed to come out of “la-la land” and confess to the police version of the events on the night of the beating. On the day of the release, however, Gaul asked Whitby simply, “Do you have anything to say?” To which she replied, “No.”

Between those two hearings, Whitby’s attorney filed a motion that provided the official basis for her release. In addition, Whitby supporters, including WW readers, contacted a high-ranking official in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction requesting Whitby’s release.

Moreover, on April 8, a grievance was filed against Gaul at the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in Columbus, Ohio, for numerous judicial improprieties in the Whitby case.

Sharon Danann, organizer with the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network in Ohio, told WW: “The combined impact was the power of the people. Rebecca stood strong, and we are so proud of her. She demonstrated that police brutality does not have to be tolerated.”

As conditions of release, Gaul imposed two years of probation and a requirement for psychological counseling for Whitby.

Whitby’s aunt and uncle, Marva and Dave Patterson, stated to WW: “We all suffered while Rebecca was incarcerated and were extremely concerned for her safety. All of us must continue to fight injustices wherever we find them. We can no longer allow innocent people to be abused by an unscrupulous judicial system.”
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