Texas Couple, Community Fight Racial Injustice in White Enclave
The Final Call, News Report , Jesse Muhammad Posted: Aug 18, 2009
According to Broderick Gamble, when he and his fiancée Kay Littlejohn moved into their new home in a nice predominately White neighborhood in Arlington, Texas, they felt they were on their way to living the so-called American dream. But that soon turned into a nightmare with their home burned to the ground, dead animals thrown in their front lawn, and a vicious attack by a 67-year-old White woman, who wanted them to move.
All of this happened within a two-year span and the Black couple has refused to back down. The White woman, Grace Snowden Head, was convicted on August 7 in Tarrant County of misdemeanor assault, criminal mischief and a hate crime. However, in a sentence delivered on August 10, after nine hours of deliberation, the jury sentenced her to only 180 days of jail time, angering the Black couple, and their supporters.
“The sentencing does not fit the crime! She got a slap on the wrist.” Mr. Gamble told The Final Call after the sentence was announced. “This sends a continuous message that Black folks can be done any kind of way in this country, even if (the offender) is convicted of a hate crime.”
“She got mercy today, not justice,” Ms. Littlejohn told The Final Call. “After she got sentenced, she just smiled at me in the courtroom and had no remorse. But the buck doesn't stop here. She has a higher power to answer to.”
It was December 19, 2007 when Ms. Head went on a racially-charged tantrum. That morning she first trashed the couple's lawn. Later that day she bombarded them with racial, vulgar slurs and commanded her Doberman pinscher to attack the couple, saying “kill them.” As Mr. Gamble and his fiancé fought off the dog, Ms. Head commenced to smashing Ms. Littlejohn in the face with a two-by-four, according to the couple.
“It is a shame that in 2009 we are still dealing with things like this,” Mr. Gamble, 36, told The Final Call. “We refused to let this case get slipped under the rug.”
Ms. Littlejohn suffered nerve damage, dental problems and hearing difficulties resulting frm the beating. According to her fiancée, she experiences severe headaches but mustered up enough strength to give her three hour testimony in court on Aug. 5.
Ms. Littlejohn said in her testimony that her attacker yelled, “You going to have to move or die, n----r bi--h. One way or the other you n----s ain't never going to live in this house.” The dramatic account, before a jury that included three Blacks, caused Ms. Littlejohn's children to exit the courtroom and gripped the jury, according to Kofi Taharka of the National Black United Front (NBUF).
“Her testimony was powerful and seriously painful,” Mr. Taharka, who chairs NBUF, told The Final Call. He drove from Houston to Fort Worth to attend the first two days of the trial. “This family is grateful for the presence of the community, and there is more work to be done to make this family whole,” he added.
“She (Ms. Littlejohn) is still going through a lot of trauma but she is a fighter,” Mr. Gamble told The Final Call. He also testified on Aug. 5 and 6. In part of that testimony, he described how two days after Ms. Head's attack, he came home to the words “Kill” and “Die N----r” spray-painted in red on the garage doors of their home that is still under reconstruction.
Ms. Head was also originally charged with failure to identify herself to a police officer. But Jail Supervisor Sgt. B. Bates concluded that a two-by-four is not a deadly weapon which resulted in the original charge being dropped to simple assault.
“Let's be real. Had I been the one hitting her with the two-by-four, it would have been (a) deadly weapon then,” Ms. Littlejohn told The Final Call. “I would not have been able to explain a dead White woman in my yard. Racism is alive.”
The couple has also filed a civil lawsuit against Ms. Head. They are being represented by attorneys Chokwe Lumumba and Imhotep Alkebulan of Jackson, Miss. The civil trial is scheduled to begin in late August.
“We will definitely look carefully into the transcripts from this trial to gauge our strategy in this civil suit,” Mr. Lumumba told The Final Call. “Based upon the outcome, we are prepared to bring in our own psychiatrist to testify.”
Atty. Lumumba, a freedom fighter since the 1950s, also told The Final Call, “this type of incident is not surprising. I would hope people are only saying we are in a post-racial America for political reasons and not because they really believe that because it's not true.”
He continued, “The problem of racism in this country will not go away by just dealing with the symptoms. Putting a Black man in office was only a band-aid and it does not solve the problem. We can't destroy racism by just hoping it will go away. It's a fight.”
Community gets behind the couple
Since the original incident took place, the couple has received a host of support from activists, politicians, clergymen, and businessowners who have formulated the Enough Racism in Arlington (ERA) movement. ERA has led rallies and even a community home makeover in August to assist the couple in the remodeling of their damaged home.
“I admire the courage of this couple because the average family in Arlington might have just walked away from this to avoid conflict,” Thomas Muhammad told The Final Call.
Mr. Muhammad heads the Fort Worth NBUF chapter. “After seeing this couple on television, I was moved to get up off my couch and get involved. We as a people cannot fall asleep.”
The ERA movement began after Mr. Gamble and Ms. Littlejohn met with Dallas-based Pastor Frederick D. Haynes, III of Friendship West Baptist Church. Pastor Haynes and the Ministry of Justice wing of his 12,000 member mega church have been calling for an end to all racism.
“When I heard about this on the Rickey Smiley Show I was outraged and I headed to Arlington,” Pastor Haynes told The Final Call. “The fact that a racist terrorist act such as this can still go on is a message that this problem is systemically embedded.”
Pastor Haynes also told The Final Call that the distressed couple is fighting “not only for themselves but for everyone else who has suffered the sting of racism. There is a widespread problem here so we want to expose it all. We are demanding more and we won't stop.”
ERA is calling this the most hideous racist attack the area has seen since 1991 when a Black man, Donald Thomas, was shot by a racist skinhead as he sat on the back of a pick-up truck. They monitored the trial very closely while continuing to help the couple rebuild their lives.
“I was not confident that the district attorney was totally committed to prosecuting this case to the fullest extent and that's why we maintained a presence inside the court proceedings,” Pastor Haynes told The Final Call.
“I personally have been inspired by and have great love for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. And we thank The Final Call for writing this coverage because there has been a blackout in the media,” he said.
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