Slave Catchers in Pasadena: The Brutal Beating of Donovan Gardner
By Li Onesto
22 October, 2015
On Thursday, October 15, the brutal beating of 25-year-old Donovan Gardner by San Bernardino sheriffs in Pasadena, California, was caught on video from a TV news helicopter.
The sheriff’s department says they got a call about a “possible residential burglary.” Cops from the sheriff’s department and the California Highway Patrol chased and then stopped a car with what they said were three “suspects.”
The video shows two officers brutally beating Donovan on the ground—punching him repeatedly and kneeing him, even though, as you can see in the video, Gardner is lying face down on his stomach.
One of the deputies punches Gardner four times in the body, then climbs on top of him and straddles his back. Once on top of Gardner, the cop throws about a dozen punches near Gardner’s head and knees him. A third cop then runs over to help restrain Gardner. Gardner is later taken away in an ambulance with a neck brace because of his injuries.
News reports say, “It is unclear... how much Gardner was resisting.” The Los Angeles Times quotes one “use-of-force expert” who says this was “reasonable force” because Gardner was a suspect and was involved in a high-speed pursuit—he was resisting and Gardner “is a big guy,” so the cop “is raining down blows but not for malicious purposes.” Another “expert” says the beating was not justified but is “an example of what happens to officers when they’re so angry at the suspect and they lose perspective, and get what we call an adrenaline dump.”
There is a lesson here in how the system’s media takes what is clearly caught on video, an outrageous incident of police brutality, and tries to make it seem like it is all too complicated to really know what happened. This is NOT complicated. It is exactly what it looks like on the video. Watch it yourself: It’s a bunch of vicious cops unjustly and brutally beating a Black man who is lying facedown on the ground.
And it is ENTIRELY understandable; it is completely rational for a group of Black men to run away from the police on foot or in their car—given that police kill Black people all the time, many times for NO REASON AT ALL. And it is completely legitimate to resist an UNJUST brutal beating. Looking at the video, it doesn’t even appear Donovan is resisting. But even if he was, saying “he shouldn’t have resisted” is like saying a woman who is being raped should not resist!
These slave catchers and the whole system they “serve and protect” are totally illegitimate.
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Li Onesto is the author of Dispatches from the People's War in Nepal and a writer for Revolution newspaper ( www.revcom.us ). She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org