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Jul-24-2013 07:51printcomments

Rev. Jesse Jackson to Assist Gabby Calhoun, Honor Student Who Had Teeth Knocked Out by Police

Rev. Jackson says that as we remember the legacy of Trayvon Martin, we must realize that there are thousands of youth just like him all over the country.

Gabby Calhoun
Gabby Calhoun

(SYRACUSE, NY YourBlackWorld) - This is a quick update to those who are following the case of Gabriella Calhoun, the honor student who had her teeth knocked out by the Bloomington, Illinois police.  Gabby is being charged with two felonies, one alleging that she assaulted a police officer, the other stating that she resisted arrest.  The incident took place when girls that Gabby didn’t know were fighting in the parking lot.  As a result of the fight, Denny’s managers allegedly told all of the black teens in the restaurant that they had to leave, even if they were not involved in the fight.

I have stood behind Gabriella since the beginning for a few reasons: First, there is nothing in her history that says that she is the kind of child who would be involved in violence of any kind, especially not with a police officer. Her mother told me that she’d never even been in a fight or put into detention. Her educational record supports these claims. Gabriella finished high school a semester early because she was such an outstanding student, and her brother is a straight-A student on his way to medical school.

Secondly, I am not convinced that there is anything that this petite, 130-pound, 18-year old could have done to an officer to justify her being knocked unconscious, choked half to death, have her teeth knocked out, and being dragged across a crowded restaurant with her upper body exposed.

According to Gabby and witnesses, when she told the officer that she has asthma, she replied, “I don’t care if you have asthma.” This level of abuse, violence, excessive force and humiliation infuriates me to no end. I am the son of a police officer, so I respect good police work. But as the father of daughters, I am out for blood.

I reached out to Bishop Tavis Grant, who works with Rev. Jesse Jackson. Bishop Grant confirmed to me that Rev. Jackson and Rainbow PUSH are now officially supporting Gabriella and her family. They spoke with Rev. Jackson and further action is planned for the near future. For those who are concerned, I will keep you posted on the developments in Gabby’s situation. I also hope you’ll share her story with those who might also be concerned.

Rev. Jackson says that as we remember the legacy of Trayvon Martin, we must realize that there are thousands of youth just like him all over the country.

“We can’t embrace the legend of Trayvon, realizing that he’s a canary in the mine if you miss all the other birds in the mine,” Rev. Jackson said when speaking with me about Gabby’s case. ”We’ve got to use the symbol to illuminate the darkness.”

To those who are determined to be critical of Rev. Jackson, I hope you will realize that he provides a level of support for Gabriella and her family that almost no one can deliver. At the age of 71, he could easily sit back and retire, but he is continuously working tirelessly on the matters that other national figures choose to ignore. Gabriella and her family contacted several civil rights organizations to get help for their case, and none of them were able to answer the call. So, I’d like to thank Rainbow PUSH for getting involved, and protecting this young woman’s bright and fulfilling future.

On a side note, Gabby went to the dentist and got new teeth this week. She’s thrilled to finally be able to smile without feeling compelled to cover her face. I told her to never let anyone keep her from smiling.

If you’d like to make a contribution to Gabby Calhoun’s legal defense fund, please use paypal to do so. You can send the money to this address Paypal email address:


Dr. Boyce Watkins



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