The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

How the cops take a run-of-the-mill vicious beating “seriously”

Jul 16, 2001

A Detroit cop has now been charged with felonious assault in a beating which happened two and a half weeks earlier.

Willie Hamilton, a patron in the Motor City Casino in downtown Detroit, had been escorted outside by two security guards because he had fallen asleep at 4 a.m. at one of the casino’s gaming tables.

Neither the guards nor any other casino official called for the cops. Nonetheless, Donahue and his partner, both of whom are white, accosted Hamilton, who is black, when they saw him on the street across from the casino.

It would have been another brutal beating like so many others – except for the fact that it was caught on video cameras.

According to Wayne County Prosecutor Michael Duggan, the video tape shows Donahue grabbing Hamilton, throwing him up against the wall, beating him in the stomach with his flashlight, and finally rubbing pepper spray directly into Hamilton’s eyes when the man was down on the ground. The video shows that Hamilton never fought back or even “resisted” during any of this attack which lasted more than a minute.

Prosecutor Duggan proclaimed, “I want there to be no mistake how seriously we take these matters.”

Oh, yes, we can certainly see with what seriousness Detroit authorities consider such cases!

In the first place, neither cops nor prosecutor did anything at all about this vicious beating when it happened. It wasn’t until after a reporter broke the story two weeks later, that the authorities even decided to put Donahue off the force temporarily, much less charge him.

When Donahue finally was brought into court, he came trailing a bit of a record. He still is facing charges for an incident that happened two years ago when he pepper-sprayed and pushed a man who wouldn’t move his car fast enough. The department had ruled that he “improperly” assaulted a civilian in 1999. And the city had paid out almost $30,000 in 1994 to settle a claim which resulted from an earlier attack he made on another citizen.

Nonetheless, Donahue remained on the streets. What’s a little “improper” assault when it’s committed by a cop?

Things still haven’t changed.

When Donahue was arraigned in this latest attack, he was immediately released on $100 bond! You have to pay more to get out of jail on old traffic tickets.

The authorities never took Donahue seriously. If they had, he never would have been left out on the streets after the first incident.

No, what Detroit and Wayne County authorities took seriously was the publicity which began to swell up after his story finally came to light.

What counts now is what people do keeping track of this case – not what the prosecutor does.