[Ppnews] Killer Lesbians Mauled by Killer Court

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jul 5 11:36:33 EDT 2007


http://www.counterpunch.org/day07052007.html

July 5, 2007


Hounded By Media Wolfpack


Killer Lesbians Mauled by Killer Court

By SUSIE DAY

Four more Black girls just went bad. Young, 19 to 
25; from Newark or surrounding neighborhoods; 
"troubled" families; having babies while in their 
teens--you've heard it all before. The reason 
you're reading about this bunch is that they're 
lesbians--"killer lesbians," "a wolf pack of 
lesbians," say the media. They're not martyrs or 
heroes; they did something stupid that got them 
sentenced to prison. They stood up for themselves.

"Man Is Stabbed in Attack After Admiring a 
Stranger," wrote the comparatively well-mannered 
New York Times last August 19th.

The Manhattan district attorney says Patreese 
Johnson, one of the four, was the stabber. He 
charged her with attempted murder, and Johnson, 
Renata Hill, Venice Brown, and Terrain Dandridge 
with felony assault and gang assault. The man 
assaulted was Dwayne Buckle, 29, who, seeing the 
"gang" on the corner of 6th Avenue and 4th Street 
in Manhattan's West Village, singled out Johnson 
because she was "slightly pretty." He claimed he 
said, "Hi, how are you doing?"

Johnson, Hill, Brown, Dandridge, and three other 
women--a "seething sapphic septet," according to 
the New York Post--had just gotten off the train 
from Newark, looking for a little fun. Being 
young, they knew the odds of fun were better in 
the Village; being lesbians, they knew fun was 
not to be had in the streets of Newark, where, 
four years earlier, 15-year-old Sakia Gunn was 
knifed to death by men who thought she was 
cute--until she told them she was gay.

Although what happened between these women and 
Dwayne Buckle was caught on surveillance cameras, 
there isn't one newspaper account that doesn't, 
somehow, conflict with the others. Dwayne Buckle, 
a "filmmaker" or "sound mixer" or "dvd 
bootlegger"--depending on your news 
source--evidently said more than "Hi." The women 
contend he pointed to Patreese Johnson's crotch 
and said, "Let me get some of that." When Johnson 
answered, "No thank you, I'm not interested," he 
told Johnson that he could fuck her and her friends straight.

Buckle says the women called his sneakers 
"cheap," then slapped and spit at him, while he 
put his hands over his face to ward off the 
blows. The women say he spit at them and threw a 
cigarette. Buckle later admitted he called Venice 
Brown, because of her size, an elephant, and told 
one of the lesbians in a "low haircut" she looked 
like a man. Depending on your life experience, 
you'll probably believe one side over the other. 
In any case, a melee ensued in which two or three 
male bystanders jumped in, either, says one side, 
as "good Samaritans" to defend the women, or, 
says the other side, because the women "recruited" them in the beating.

Naturally, there are details the press didn't 
cover. Susan Tipograph, an attorney representing 
Renata Hill, supplies the fact that, at some 
point, Buckle pulled off one woman's headpiece 
and tore out a patch of another's hair--which may 
be what he is seen swinging on the videotape, as he advances on the women.

According to Tipograph, Johnson, seeing that 
Buckle had Renata Hill in a chokehold, took a 
99-cent steak knife from her purse and swung it 
at Buckle's arm, to get him to release Hill. 
After things quieted down, the women, with no 
apparent intent of fleeing the scene, went to the 
McDonalds across the street, visited the 
bathroom, got something to eat. Twenty-five 
minutes later, they were arrested a few blocks 
away, unaware the man they'd fought was injured. 
Buckle had, in fact, sustained stomach and liver 
lacerations, and was to spend the next five days 
in St. Vincent's Hospital, recuperating. 
Interestingly, news media barely noticed that 
Dwayne Buckle is, himself, Black--given his 
demonstrable heterosexuality, he has become, for 
purposes of the press, Everyman.

The trial did little to elucidate what happened. 
The videotape, played repeatedly, was, says 
Tipograph, highly inconclusive. At 95 pounds, 4 
feet 11 inches, Patreese Johnson may not have had 
the strength or leverage to inflict much damage. 
Johnson still doesn't know if she actually 
stabbed Buckle. One of the men who jumped into 
the fight may have done it, but, since the NYPD 
never tested Johnson's knife for DNA evidence, 
we'll never know. Long story short: the jury 
didn't believe it was self-defense, and convicted the women.

Now it's June 14, 2007. Johnson, Hill, Brown, and 
Dandridge are in State Supreme Court, being 
sentenced. The Times reporter notes how Judge 
Edward J. McLaughlin shows "little sympathy" as 
he lectures the defendants, saying "they should 
have heeded the nursery rhyme about 'sticks and 
stones' and walked away." The judge "scoffs" at 
Johnson's explanation that she carried a knife 
because she worked nights at Wal-Mart and needed 
protection getting home; he's saying that 
Johnson's "'meek, weak' demeanor" on the stand has been "an act."

He sentences Johnson to 11 years in state prison; 
Renata Hill to 8 years; Terrain Dandridge to 3_; 
Venice Brown to 5--and the courtroom erupts. The 
defendants scream, "I'm a good girl!" and "Mommy, 
Mommy, I didn't do this!" Brown and Hill, mothers 
themselves, will leave behind an infant and a 5-year-old.

"He lectured them as if he knew what their lives 
were about--he didn't have a clue," says Susan 
Tipograph. "Patreese Johnson is a 19-year-old 
kid. I'm sorry she's not as forceful and together 
as a white, middle-aged man who's been a judge 
for 20 years. He accused them of lying, of not 
being remorseful, of being predators. What 
happened that night was stupid, frankly. They 
should have walked away. But the sentences 
McLaughlin gave were off the charts."

"PACK HOWLS--JUDGE WON'T BEND," blares the New 
York Daily News. Some people say Justice was 
served. After all, you want to watch out for 
Black dykes with knives. But people who believe 
in this kind of justice talk like they know what 
prison is. Prison is about anything but justice, 
especially for the young, the queer, the African American.

Dwayne Buckle--or anyone that night--should not 
have been physically hurt. But, embedded within 
the charges and sentences these women received is 
an imploded violence that will damage lives 
deeply, years after the body's wounds are healed.

[None of these women can afford a lawyer; they 
urgently need pro bono counsel for an appeal. If 
you can help, contact Susan Tipograph at 
212.431.5360. If you want to provide non-legal 
support or write letters to the women, go to 
<http://www.fiercenyc.org/>www.fiercenyc.org.]

Susie Day can be reached at: <mailto:sday at skadden.com>sday at skadden.com

© Susie Day, 2007




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