About 30 protesters and dozens of spectators lined the steps of the Harris County Criminal Justice building this afternoon, calling for new charges to be brought against Andrew Blomberg, the former Houston police officer recently acquitted on charges of kicking a 15-year-old burglary suspect.
Members of the National Black United Front, and victims of violent encounters with police -- including former minor league baseball player Robbie Tolan -- also spoke out against what they felt was a fixed trial, and called for an independent civilian review board for the Houston Police Department.
Tolan, shot in 2008 by a Bellaire police officer who was subsequently acquitted of assault charges, told the crowd, "People keep asking me how I feel about situations like this, what do I think...how does it make me feel and all that kind of stuff....What do I say that I haven't said before?"
Tolan added, "People please, get out and vote, go to jury duty, that's the only way you're going to make a difference...Get up here, mad and cussing and fussing ain't going to do nothing."
He may have been referring to fellow speaker Anthony Childress, who appeared to surprise the organizers by launching into a profanity-laced account of his 2011 encounter with police that left him bruised, bloody and with six fewer teeth.
After referring to Mayor Annise Parker's "ho ass," Childress cried out, "I'm 39 years old; they just whooped my ass [and] knocked my teeth out...and I still bear the scars."
Childress's emotional rant was actually a refreshing change of pace from the evergreen soundbites and pageantry of NUBF National Chairman Kofi Taharka, who invoked the memory of Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman and other historical figures, and called on "the spirit of our holy African ancestors" by "pouring libations" (spilling water from a bottle) in their honor.
Meanwhile, NUBF member Krystal Muhammad said the words "criminal justice" emblazoned on the courthouse were an apt description of the Blomberg trial, saying, "What they're doing is the devil's work in there."
She told Hair Balls before the demonstration that she hoped the protest would help the city achieve "enlightenment," and said the Dred Scott and Blomberg cases "are the same case."