President Obama should not remain silent on Gabriella Calhoun



SISSome things make you want to cry. Just look down at the ground, hang your head and weep rivers, hurt to your heart and soul. What happened to Gabriella Calhoun, all the more because it’s at the tender age of 18, is one such tragedy. It also is reason to get damned good and angry, 1960s angry that stopped America’s racist society and its delusion of invulnerability on a dime.

Regrettably, today’s Black folk just don’t get as upset as they did back then, or they would have their collective foot up President Barack Obama’s behind over this. They’d take Michelle to task as well, demanding to know why the most important woman — of any color — in the world, even beyond Oprah Winfrey, hasn’t snatched her husband by the shirt collar and said, ”Damn it, man, get in front of the nation and say something!”

We’d demand that he say something concretely assertive on behalf of young Ms. Calhoun in specific and African America on the whole, instead of, as usual, waiting for liberals to tell him what to do, how to be the first African America president. Actually standing up for — what was that phrase, again? — “change we can believe in.”

The particulars that have come to light as of this column’s deadline: Gabriella Calhoun was reportedly beaten by a police officer at a Denny’s restaurant in Bloomington, Illinois on June 29. She was beaten so badly photographs show hideous bruises and badly chipped teeth.

Calhoun, scholar at Wiley College, was sitting with her friends at the Denny’s when a fight broke out between two girls outside the restaurant. The police were called, broke up the fight, then let the two girls go inside the restaurant and clean up. However, the girls started their fight again. Police broke it up.

According to news articles, the police approached Gabriella’s table, grabbed one of her male friends and escorted him out of Denny’s, even though he had nothing to do with the fight. Calhoun followed the police and her friend, but was suddenly knocked unconscious by a female officer who hit her in the head with a night stick.

It is pointed out in all the stories about the case that Gabriella Calhoun is an honor student, and that her battered face shows that of a young lady who is the image of wholesome womanhood. That’s understandable. We have a thing for scholars and people who are pretty. Fine.

Fact is, though, were she a high school dropout, ugly as a mud fence, there’s no excuse for such in-the-name-of-law-and-order abuse. Not to mention God knows what names she was called her while the baton blows rained down.

In Gabriella’s words, quoted in several media sources, “I awoke spitting my teeth out on the ground. When I came to, the officer begins to choke me again. When I was finally able to talk, I asked the officer to please let me go because I have asthma, but she said, ‘I don’t care if you have asthma. You were hitting my officer.’

“Afterward, the officer kept saying over and over again, ‘How was your party’ as she held my face to the ground.” Calhoun was taken to jail and booked for felony aggravated battery and two misdemeanors for resisting arrest.

You would think, whether you are a Black father or not, that Brotha Barack, dad of two daughters roughly Gabriella’s age, would seriously consider going upside that cop’s head with a Louisville Slugger. You would think he’d be mindful that the only assurance he needs to make sure it doesn’t happen to Malia and Sasha Obama is the fact that they have Secret Service protection, 24-seven.

Could you imagine police assaulting an 18-year-old blue-eyed blonde this badly? Not even in somebody’s nightmare. Horribly, this is reality.

You’ d think Obama would empathized with other Black fathers. You’d be mistaken. He made it clear since the day he stepped into the White House that the only Black people in America he gives a red damn about are himself, Michelle and the girls. The man is a disgrace.

There can be no excuse for what that cop did, and she should have been fired on the spot. Instead, Gabriella Calhoun was laid up, is traumatized beyond imagining and, of all things, faces criminal charges, for no other reason than that she has Black skin. And this nation remains one sorry excuse for a civilized society.


Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.