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Texas community regroups through peaceful demonstrations after pool party incident

More than 500 people marched through the Dallas suburb of McKinney Monday evening to protest what they say is the unjust treatment of black teenagers by the police at a pool party over the weekend.

With signs reading “Black Lives Matter,” and “Stop Police Brutality,” local residents held two demonstrations, one marching from an elementary school to the Craig Ranch community pool where the incident occurred, and the second in front of the McKinney Police Station. At each, youth and adults voiced their opinions on the state of their town.

“There is racism and there is classism that we have to address,” Derrick Golden, pastor at Amazing Church in McKinney told the NewsHour on Tuesday. “This incident is a complete blend of different issues that happened. So it’s not just racism, black on white. It’s not that all. It’s a myriad of issues.”

These protests were in response to white McKinney police officer David Eric Casebolt drawing his gun at unarmed black teenagers, then subduing a 14-year-old black girl in a swimsuit by pushing her down and placing his knee on her back on Saturday while breaking up a pool party. Cellphone videos of the police response went viral, causing outrage all over the country which once again questioned police tactics and racial discrimination.

In a statement released on Sunday, McKinney Police Chief Greg Conely said Officer Casebolt has been placed on leave until their internal affairs investigation concludes. But demonstrators say that’s not enough and want officer Casebolt fired all together.

“I believe that the officer behaved inappropriately and I do believe it was some level of excessive force in how he carried himself and even when he handled the little girl, it was outrageous. There should be a disciplinary action against him, which should include termination,” Golden said. “I also believe there should be some response from the community, especially the Christian community, we need to help restore him just like the children who were affected by this.”

Shortly before the protests began on Monday, McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller uploaded a statement to YouTube on the incident.

“We appreciate your support and we share your concerns,” Mayor Loughmiller stated. “Chief Conley has assured me that he is working with all deliberate speed to conclude this process. Part of the review will include evaluating the instance that led to the need that led to police assistance to try to prevent this type of situation from happening again.”

Dueling narratives have divided the suburb over what happened prior to the police being called. One side placing the blame on white residents and McKinney police for persecuting the neighborhood’s black teenagers and the other side saying that law officers did what their job demanded when the teenagers were trespassing on private property.

After a meeting with clergy members, the police chief and mayor Monday, Golden said he is expecting weekly follow-ups on the progress of an internal investigation.

“I think we have it stabilized. I think the country is talking about McKinney but really I’m talking about Collin County as well — our whole area has been impacted,” Golden said. “My hope is that just as publicly as the world saw what happened at the pool party, that they see how this community gathers itself together, handles its business and reconciles afterwards. We’re going to keep moving forward.”

More protests are scheduled for later this week.

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