Beating of Black man in Georgia jail goes viral: Just the tip of the iceberg

As we go to print, three of the prison guards who beat Jarrett Hobbs have been arrested on charges of “Battery of an Inmate and Violating the Oath of Office” according to a Nov. 22 statement from the Camden County Sheriff’s Office.  The same three were also fired.  

The savage beating of a 41-year-old Black man, Jarrett Hobbs, by five prison guards — four of them white — was captured on video tape Sept. 3. However, the videotape did not go viral on social media until Nov. 14. 

Jarrett Hobbs (Photo: New York Post)

The attack took place in a Camden County Jail in Woodbine, Georgia, located near the Florida border. Hobbs was incarcerated in the jail from the day of the beating until Sept. 30, for traffic violations and possession of a controlled substance. 

The five guards have been placed on administrative leave until the Georgia Bureau of Investigation completes its “independent investigation.” Hobbs’s lawyers released three videos showing the five guards entering Hobbs’s cell, grabbing his face and punching him in the head. They then drag him from his cell into the hallway and push him against a wall, where the beating continues. In one of the videos, Hobbs can be heard asking the guards why they are beating him while screaming in pain. It was reported that the guards yanked out one of his dreadlocks. 

Hobbs’s lawyers, Bakari Sellers and Harry Daniels, held a press conference Nov. 16, asking why there wasn’t immediate action taken against the guards, instead of waiting over two months until the videos were released to the public. The lawyers stated that being put on administrative leave falls short of holding these guards accountable. 

Daniels stated, “These white officers were beating a Black man in the Deep South, reminiscent of ‘old antebellum, Jim Crow’ times.” He added that his client told him he was having a mental health crisis and tried to avoid being dragged to the floor, because “no matter what, he knew if he went to the ground, he would be the next George Floyd, that he was going to die that day.” (New York Times, Nov. 18)

Sellers said it is “absolutely clear that these officers beat Jarrett Hobbs like a dog for no reason other than they could.” 

Hobbs’s probation officer claimed that before the beating Hobbs was kicking the door of his cell and that he allegedly attacked one of the guards, resulting in the guard having a bruised eye and a broken hand. There is no doubt that the jailers will attempt to paint Hobbs as the aggressor to justify beating him. It is highly unlikely that these guards will be charged, much less convicted for their criminal assault on Sept. 3.

Hobbs is now in a Guilford County Jail in North Carolina, for alleged violation of probation related to a fraud conviction in 2014. 

What happened to Jarrett Hobbs is no isolated incident. Incarcerated workers are at the mercy of guards every minute of every day. Many of the beatings, rapes and other physical and psychological assaults are videotaped, but rarely do they go viral — similar to police killings and assaults. 

All too often these beatings lead to permanent injuries of a physical, emotional and psychological character. In notorious Rikers Island in New York City, where many detainees are held for months and even years due to high bails, a reported 16 people died in 2021 alone due to beatings and suicides. 

Prisons in the U.S. are not only concentration camps but death camps for oppressed and poor workers. They must be abolished!!!

Monica Moorehead

Monica.Moorehead@workers.org

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Monica Moorehead

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