Student protester acquitted in Cleveland Juvenile Court
Published Oct 14, 2010 10:07 PM
DeAsia Bronaugh, a Black high school student, was acquitted on all charges on
Oct. 7 in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court.
The charges, including felonious assault on a police officer, stemmed from an
incident on May 13 when she and fellow students walked out of Collinwood High
School to protest plans to close more than 40 Cleveland schools and lay off
hundreds of teachers.
DeAsia and her sister, Destini, assembled on the sidewalk to demonstrate with
classmates and community members who had come to support the student-organized
A school security guard testified that inside the school a crowd of
approximately 200 students were trying to join the demonstration outside.
Fearing that the student protest could turn into a much larger confrontation
with the powers that be, he called the cops.
Three police cars met the small crowd of students rallying outside the school.
A video taken at the scene showed that the officers began roughly grabbing
students and arresting them for violating Cleveland’s daytime curfew law
that applies specifically to school-age youth.
DeAsia was arrested, although she was not in violation of the curfew, since she
was being escorted by her older sister, who was 19 years old. She was therefore
legally outside of school. When DeAsia, who was 16 at the time, was grabbed by
an officer, she embraced her sister as Destini attempted to explain the
Rather than listen, the police roughly pulled them apart. Destini called out,
“We were protesting at our school, and they’re trying to arrest
They were both slammed against a car. Then they were thrown to the ground.
Officers shoved their knees into the necks of both young women. Destini cried
out, “I’m having an asthma attack.”
The officer responded, “You’re about to get tased!”
Both young women sustained serious injuries as a result of the violent
Two organizers from Cleveland FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together) had
heard about the walkout and came to support the students. One videotaped the
entire confrontation and alerted the media. Soon the images of police brutality
were widely circulated by local television and newspapers.
A defense committee was established. The International Action Center set up an
online petition that alerted the press, local officials and others that
thousands of people around the country were greatly concerned about the events
Terry Gilbert, a well-known radical attorney who has famously represented
Leonard Peltier and other members of the American Indian Movement, took the
case of the young women. The Oppressed People’s Nation, a local group of
young community organizers, came to the aid of the family as well.
At the trial of DeAsia Bronaugh on Oct. 6 and 7, it came out that Officer
Robert Taylor, one of those who brutalized DeAsia, had also shot a 16-year-old
boy in the back in 2002. The family of Ricardo Mason, the young man Taylor had
killed, sued and won a settlement of more than $1 million.
The video of the confrontation was a key piece of evidence at DeAsia’s
trial. The prosecution tried to claim that while both her feet were in the air,
DeAsia had tried to kick the police officers.
Magistrate Jeffrey Ehrbar wasn’t buying it. Right after the prosecution
finished presenting its case, he dismissed all the charges on a motion from
Ehrbar told the prosecutor, “I watch professional wrestling.” He
said he found it extremely unlikely that young DeAsia had carried out a
dropkick, a difficult feat of athleticism when confronted by three police
officers each weighing more than 200 pounds.
After the charges were dismissed, DeAsia and her mother, Tina Bronaugh,
embraced with tears of joy.
On Nov. 15 Destini Bronaugh will face charges of resisting arrest and
obstructing an official proceeding in Cleveland Municipal Court.
Organizers in Cleveland are gearing up for another victory, when this young
woman is also acquitted and the Cleveland police are once again called out for
Maupin, a member of Cleveland FIST, took the video used in DeAsia
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