Whitby verdicts cover up real hate crime
Published Feb 13, 2011 8:56 PM
An Ohio jury returned verdicts in the trial of Rebecca Whitby, daughter, and
Rebecca Whitby, mother, on Feb. 7, acquitting them on most of the charges. The
younger woman, however, was found guilty of one count of resisting arrest and
one count of assaulting a police officer with her saliva. The incident occurred
in April 2009 after police were called to mediate a family dispute.
Rebecca Whitby with
her new baby
Mother Whitby was found guilty of obstruction of justice because she threw her
body over her daughter to shield her from punches in the face. Sentencing will
be on March 7.
While the defense attorneys did not raise this point in their summation,
supporters of the two women say that at least eight white officers positioned
themselves on the Whitbys’ front porch while the two white cops who
responded to the call were upstairs beating up the younger Whitby. The Rebecca
Whitby Defense Committee says the two cops upstairs never had time to summon
help after they arrived, so they must have called for backup on their way to
the Whitby house.
The women and other witnesses say that this large group of officers, who had
seemingly no particular reason for being on the scene, brutalized the
23-year-old woman while using racial slurs such as the n-word and derogatory
sexual language. That’s why the defense committee has raised slogans
demanding charges against the cops and has discussed the case as a preplanned
hate crime. It was another skirmish in the war on the Black people and the
women of Cleveland.
Hate crime perpetrated by blue uniforms
The attack would have been more recognizable as a hate crime had it not been
hidden behind blue uniforms and covered up through intricate machinations at
the jail and subsequently at the hospital. The situation was further obscured
by the 10 felony charges filed against the daughter and the three felony
charges against the mother after they had the courage to request an
investigation into the use of excessive force by the police.
The jury asked to see this complaint, but Judge Daniel Gaul denied their
On Feb. 3, while the jury was on a break, the most recent example of the thug
tactics that permeate the police and judicial system in Cleveland occurred
right in the courtroom.
Christine Martin, one of the white neighbors who testified for the defense,
gave details of the officers’ violent acts. These included kicking and
tasing the younger Whitby, already limp and semiconscious, on the front
Martin says that as she was leaving the courtroom after completing her
testimony, Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Lingle asked a deputy sheriff to
arrest her. In front of numerous witnesses, the sheriff said to Martin,
“Life’s a b — ch,” while he handcuffed her roughly,
injuring her wrists and shoulder blades in the process, and transported her
back into the courtroom.
In the courtroom Martin was told there was a warrant for her for possession of
drugs. Prosecutor Sherrie Royster laughed openly at Martin, who was visibly
upset, crying and demanding to have her birth date and Social Security number
compared to those on the warrant. Other observers came from the judge’s
chambers to laugh and smile at the obvious discomfort of the defense witness.
Lingle commented, “She got what she deserved.”
Then, as suddenly as the arrest, someone realized that the outstanding warrant
was for a person who did, in fact, have a different birth date. Martin was free
to go, but only after she had been thoroughly terrorized for breaking ranks
with the racists and having the integrity to tell the truth about an abusive
Marva Patterson, aunt of the younger Whitby, stated, “Judge Gaul was so
mad at the verdicts — you could fry an egg on his head. The verdicts were
much better than anything offered in plea bargaining. The courtroom was packed
with family and supporters.”
The Whitbys are maintaining their fighting spirit. Their attorneys have already
The defense committee is asking people to contact Martin Flask, Director of the
Department of Public Safety, 601 Lakeside Ave., Rm. 230, Cleveland, OH 44114;
phone 216-664-2200; fax 216-664-3734. Let him know that it’s time for
Officers James Bryant and Mitchell Sheehan to face charges for excessive use of
force for punching, kicking and using tasers when all they were faced with was
misdemeanor spittle — which they probably squeezed out of Whitby when the
two landed on her.
They also need to face charges for many instances of falsification of records
and cover-up of their crimes.
If cops can be convicted in New Orleans for killing people at a bridge crossing
without reason, they can be convicted in Cleveland. The organized forces of
hate often turn in their sheets for blue uniforms, prosecutors’ suits and
judges’ robes. But we will fight back against their war of terror, and
together we will win!
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: [email protected]
Subscribe [email protected]
Support independent news DONATE