Tuesday in court was supposed to be a pretty straight forward day for Alec Guessford: Let the family court commissioner watch, on video, as five of his black classmates taunt, harass and beat him on a school bus in April. Watch his classmate promise to never, ever do it again.
Make a victim’s statement. Then get on with his life as a Dover, Delaware junior high student.
Four of the assailants had already pled guilty to various charges of misdemeanor assault and conspiracy — including the person who took the video and posted it.
But it got complicated when the fifth assailant, Tracy Matthews, decided to take his chances with a trial before the commissioner. Matthews said no matter what it seemed like on the video — he’s the one with the hoodie — he was not beating anyone. He was just looking for his headphones. The four assailants testified on behalf of their friend/accomplice.
Before the trial, members of the Guessford family sat in the same witness room as the four people who pled guilty to beating their son. “They were laughing and taunting us,” said Dale Guessford, Alec’s dad. “Trying to intimidate us. Finally the court officials moved us into another room.”
The four assailants were on better behavior in court. Good enough to persuade Commissioner Angela Fowler to let their friend go free with a finding of not guilty. Fowler, a former public defender and “child advocate” for State Attorney General Beau Biden, said she could not see the accused person actually assault Alec.
“Guess she doesn’t have a slow motion switch on whatever she uses to watch videos,” Guessford said. “But even without it, it is easy to see Matthews participating in the assault. And easy to see other children watch him do it. Though they were never called as witnesses.”
You can see the beating below, in slow motion:
After the beating, the school was reluctant to take action. “They tried to tell me Alex provoked the assault,” said Guessford. “But this was the second time it had happened. And it was five on one.”
When the video came out, that seemed to settle the questions of who was taunting whom, who was harassing whom, and who was beating on whom.
The 30-second video went viral shortly after the beating. Soon after Alec’s father posted it on his Facebook page, the video received 125,000 shares. After I posted it on YouTube, the video received 60,000 views in the first few hours before YouTube removed it, saying the film violated its terms of service that prohibit anyone from glorifying racial violence.
When this intrepid correspondent pointed out that the video was exposing racial violence, not glorifying it, YouTube put it back up — several weeks later.
But even a video record of the assault was not enough to convince commissioner Fowler. “Whatever this was, it can hardly be called a trial,” Dale Guessford said. “The very first question the defense lawyer asked my son was not even a real question. He said ‘you really don’t like black people very much do you, Alex?’”
The judge ruled the question out of order. A better question might have been addressed to the judge: ‘Who are you going to believe, my clients and his thuggish friends, or that lying videotape?’
Of the 20 or so students on the bus, only the friends of the Matthews were called to testify. The same one who had already pleaded guilty. And the prosecutor did not ask Alex any questions.
“Even without slow motion, you can see Tracy Matthews lean over and punch Alec,” Guessford said. “Lots of people saw it without slow motion.”
After about an hour, the judge heard what she needed to hear and issued the not guilty ruling.
“What a message,” said Dale Guessford. “Telling that child it is OK to beat another child. Telling my son it is OK to try to portray him as a bad person because he was the victim of a racial assault and he had the nerve not to like it.”
And one last thing, said Guessford: “There were no headphones.”
Don’t miss the Glazov Gang’s special episode featuring Colin Flaherty, discussing the epidemic of black mob violence all over the country and the media’s cover-up:
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