Activists, Family Give Update on Pennsylvania Black Teen Beaten, Tasered By Local Police
They said that they were going ahead with their gathering “rain or shine,” and so on a wet, windy Wednesday afternoon, they did.
Although the weather and advent of the holiday weekend certainly ‘chilled’ the turnout for what was supposed to be a support rally for Marissa Sargeant and her 14year son, Joey Williams, who was brutalized by Tullytown Police on November 12th , it did not impede the quality of the representation, at what became instead a good press briefing updating the case.
Taking the point on the case were activist Gregory Brinkley, local elected official Ed Lloyd and Asa Khalif of Racial Unity. Baba Zayid Muhammad of the New Black Panther Party ventured all the way down from Newark, New Jersey to also offer support.
The police say that Williams was injured as a consequence of falling on his face after he was tasered. He was already in handcuffs. His family believes that Williams, a small-framed adolescent, was subjected to a brutal beating on top of having been tasered. According to eyewitnesses, this all took place while he was already in handcuffs.
The police also say that Williams was shoplifting with his uncle and that set in motion the events that ultimately took place. The family has denounced the behavior of the uncle and his irresponsibility, but insists that the excessive force that clearly used was simply not necessary.
The family’s advocates made it very clear that the young man was so badly beaten that he had been knocked unconscious for a still undetermined period of time and only has a slight memory of what actually happened to him. They also indicated that his mother was not allowed to see him once he had been taken into custody. They also indicated that the police and the hospital had Williams sign a consent to be treated in his mother’s absence when he was taken to Lower Bucks County Hospital afterward. Now in his mother’s custody, Williams is currently undergoing a battery of tests to determine the scope of his injuries.
They indicated that they reached out to the district attorney with their evidence of what actually happened and that the district attorney has not returned their calls. They are demanding that a special prosecutor be chosen to investigate the case.
Social media also has played an important role in developing this story. Sargeant used Facebook, simply posting her son’s savagely beaten face, to show everyone what had been done to him at the hands of the police, in a way very much like Mamie Mobley Till, the mother of Emmitt Till, who had her son’s badly mangled head photographed at his now historic 1955 funeral after he had been savagely lynched. The picture went ‘viral,’ meaning it been seen and shared by legions of people.
“That’s how she got me,” said Muhammad who defended Sargeant’s choice to use that picture to spark outrage and to draw support against detractors who asserted that such use lacked etiquette and was opportunist. Sargeant then put him in touch with Lloyd, he said.
“The only ones lacking ‘etiquette’ here,” he said angrily “were these beasts who brutalized this child, not her mother.”
Facebook was also used to distort and detract from the family’s call for justice. Brinkley said that he was vilified as having a long criminal record on a Support Tullytown Police post. Brinkley instead is a retired corrections officer with no record and has been a representative for the National Action Network in the greater Philadelphia area for nearly eight years. Pro-police forces had originally planned a counter rally on Facebook, but cancelled it, many believe, at the urging of area officials looking to tone down tensions created by the incident.
Khalif concluded the briefing pointedly asking the press “when you go back and write your story, ask yourself this, how would you take this, if this were your son or family member.”
*AUTHOR’S NOTE. The writer is reluctantly breaking with journalistic canon to not use the victim’s name due to his age because his mother and leading supporters had already made a decision to do so garner support for him…