By Zeba Blay
There is a moment in the McKinney, Texas pool party video that’s both horrifying and absurd: when Cpl. Eric Casebolt manhandles, violently restrains, then sits on top of an unarmed, 15-year-old, bikini-clad black girl as she cries for her mother.
The absurdity, of course, lies in how unnecessary and over-the-top Casebolt’s behavior is (earlier in the YouTube clip, he barrel rolls across a lawn for no reason in particular). But the horror emerges from the undertones of sexual violence in that instant. Casebolt pulls the girl by her hair, forces her face against the ground and presses his knee into her back — all while she pleads for him to stop. Here’s a grown man, forcing a young girl into submission against her will. The video acts as a prime example of the inherent reality of both physical and sexual harassment against black women and girls at the hands of cops.
The scene is reminiscent of a video that went viral last year. The clip featured 51-year-old Marlene Pinnock being punched repeatedly by California Highway Patrolman Daniel Andrew. Equally as problematic as his brute force was the compromising and dehumanizing position the patrolman had her in. Andrew straddled Pinnock as he beat her, with her torso and bra exposed. Pinnock later reached a settlement in the case, with Andrew never charged, and his sexual harassment never acknowledged.