Awaiting Justice for Brian Ogle
It's been almost a week since Sylacauga High School senior Brian Ogle was nearly beaten to death in what appears to be a racially motivated attack. As of this writing no arrests have been made.
On Monday, Police Chief Kelley Johnson stated, “We think there was between five and eight taking part in the assault. The persons of interest are black. They are not students at the high school, although they did graduate from Sylacauga,” he said.
Chief Johnson also acknowledged citizens are concerned the police department as well as school officials might "sweep this under the rug." He insisted he is "not one to sweep any crime under anything much less a crime as violent as this."
Yet, a report from a local online ABC affiliate practically reduces the horror to a spat between Ogle and "some people" who, Chief Johnson says, "went overboard and overreacted...to some words on social media." The reporter then writes, "the student, who had been involved in a "minor" dispute on campus last week, was beaten by several people..."
As of Tuesday, According to al.com, investigators had met with Talladega County District Attorney Steve Giddens to obtain warrants for the suspects.
A post on the Sylacauga Police Department’s Facebook page cautioned citizens not to expect a quick resolution:
This is not a case that can be closed out like an episode of 'Law and Order. This is real life and a real crime takes time to do all of the work to make a rock solid case. SPD and the DA'S office wants a case that is solid. At this time, we are trying to tie up some loose ends that were seen by our prosecutors office. I can't say how long this will take, but when those ends are tied, we will be making arrests in this case.
As far as this being a hate crime, and those wanting the FBI involved, the determination on that will come after arrests and it will happen if the DA sees that the 'Hate Crime' enhancement applies and can be proven.
I wonder if this response would have satisfied the media and the Department of Justice if this had been done to a black teenager? If the attack had been by multiple whites and the victim black, would they all be in federal prison by now awaiting a detention hearing?
Making matters worse, the head of the Talladega NAACP, Reverend Hugh Morris, met with the police chief Monday to offer his help in easing racial tension. "We don't want anyone else hurt," he said. Morris is hardly one to quell racial friction in the community.
A news story in July of 2015 concerned Morris' own anti-police activism. The Reverend demanded an investigation into a K-9 officer and his police dog. Morris demanded the Talladega County District Attorney look into an incident involving a black woman bitten by the dog after she ran away from police. The officer was subsequently placed on administrative leave and the dog put out of service after Morris' intervention.
Morris' belated involvement in Ogle's brutal beating is curious considering the tension was so bad at Sylacauga High in the days leading up to the attempted murder of Brian that the school was put on lockdown. Where was Reverend Morris? Didn't he as a local NAACP official know the pot was about to boil over at the high school?
Two days before the attack on Ogle, violent posts on social media forced Chief Johnson to make a statement along with the superintendent of schools Dr. Todd Freeman. Part of the missive encouraged "everyone to report credible threats to the police immediately." According to Ogle's mother, Brandi Allen, Brian received numerous threats that he reported to the school's principal. Allen said she was “appalled” the principal said there was nothing she could do.
Last weekend, soon after the horror, Allen said "I want to see them [attackers] in jail. This most certainly is a race issue. It's a hate crime." Brian's mother described her son as outgoing and loving with many friends from all races. She believes her son was targeted because he responded to another post on social media with "I back the blue" and other pro-police comments earlier in the week.
Allen later told a Fox affiliate in addition to suffering skull fractures her son "was hit with something--what is presumed to be the butt of the pistol on his face,...there's a lot of wounds on the back of his head from being hit as well."
Brian’s family will celebrate his 18th birthday on October 21 at the hospital. Doctors are still monitoring him to see if the bleeding on his brain has stopped.
If that isn't tragic enough for Brian and his loved ones, Brandi said now her "son has been made into this awful, racist person that he is not."
A white teen is beaten almost to death by blacks for posting non-racial pro-police comments on social media and he's the racist? So far, there’s little being done to elevate this hate crime to the attention it deserves. No protests, no riots, no looting, no politician saying Brian ‘could have been my son.’ Are SPD and the DA truly building a “solid” case before they make arrests or are they walking on eggshells trying to appease the black community?