Two Jasper, Texas police officers were fired on Monday for using excessive force against a 25-year-old black woman, Keyarika Diggles, after she was arrested for an unpaid fine of $100.
“The amount of force used was abominable,” the woman’s attorney told Yahoo News.
Security cameras at Jasper’s police headquarters captured the incident:
There’s no audio on the video, but Diggles and Grissom were apparently arguing when Officer Ryan Cunningham comes in behind Diggles and attempts to handcuff her. When she appears to raise her hand, Cunningham grabs Diggles by the hair and slams her head into a countertop. The officers wrestle Diggles to the ground before dragging her by her ankles into a jail cell.
“She got her hair pulled out, broke a tooth, braces got knocked off … it was brutal,” Bernsen said.
“James Byrd, Jr. (May 2, 1949 – June 7, 1998) was an African-American who was murdered by three men, of whom at least two were white supremacists, in Jasper, Texas, on June 7, 1998. Shawn Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and John King dragged Byrd behind a pick-up truck along an asphalt road. Byrd, who remained conscious throughout most of the ordeal, was killed when his body hit the edge of a culvert, severing his right arm and head. The murderers drove on for another mile before dumping his torso in front of an African-American cemetery in Jasper. Byrd’s lynching-by-dragging gave impetus to passage of a Texas hate crimes law. It later led to the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, commonly known as the Matthew Shepard Act, which passed on October 22, 2009, and which President Barack Obama signed into law on October 28, 2009.
Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed by lethal injection for this crime by the state of Texas on September 21, 2011. King remains on Texas’ death row while appeals are pending, while Berry was sentenced to life imprisonment.
“JASPER, Tex. — For more than 100 years, a rickety iron fence separated the black graves from the white ones at a cemetery in this East Texas town. Months after the brutal murder here of James Byrd Jr., a black man chained to a pickup truck and dragged to death by three white men on June 7, 1998, the fence was torn down by residents as a sign of unity and reconciliation.
Fourteen years later, Jasper City Cemetery remains segregated: blacks, including Mr. Byrd, are buried near the bottom of the hill, while whites are buried at the top.
“It’s our custom, here in the South, here in Jasper,” said Albert K. Snell, 80, a retired teacher who is white and a member of the cemetery’s board of directors. “We have the same cemetery, but we don’t mix the white and the black graves. They’re separate. Put a black up here? No, no, we wouldn’t do that. That would be against our custom, against our way of doing things.”
In recent months, the perpetual, uncomfortable truce between the races in this piney woods town of 7,600 has ruptured, and the feuding has become increasingly public.”