In September of 2009, I first wrote about the beating of U.S. service member Tasha Hill at the Morrow Cracker Barrel restaurant by Troy West. Her daughter was 7 years old at the time and she watched helplessly, as her mother was beaten. Both Hill and her daughter still suffer from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident.
During West’s trial, it was Hill who was treated as though she were the guilty party. The defense continually alluded to her “character,” suggesting that previous incidents of anger on the part of Hill somehow contributed to West beating her that day. It was classic victim blaming and suggested that a woman who is not docile, needs to be beaten to remind her of her role in society. When we consider that Hill is a Black woman and West is a White man, it makes the suggestion that much more problematic. Race and gender played a huge role in how this terrible incident of violence was understood.
Facing 4 1/2 years in prison West decided to make a plea deal which left him with 4 1/2 months to serve as pre-trial custody time was taken into consideration. At the time I considered this to be a complete assault upon justice and a devaluation of the violence he inflicted upon Hill. This is not the first time when we have seen violence against women treated as insignificant and unworthy of our attention.
After serving a mere 43 days of his sentence, West was released from prison.
“Someone that abuses a dog gets more time than West got,” Hill’s lawyer, Mawuli Mel Davis, told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik.
After West’s conviction, officials moved him from Clayton County to the Worth County Jail, where he was closer to his family. On Dec. 3, West was released from jail, more than three months ahead of schedule, Worth County Sheriff Freddie Tompkins said.
Tompkins said he gave West two days of credit for every day he painted trailers for the county’s Public Works Department. He said West also cleaned up debris after a recent storm.Tompkins said he treated West as he would every inmate in his jail. He said he was receiving pressure from West’s friends to release him even earlier, but he declined. (source)
Tompkins is just the pillar of justice isn’t he. Imagine how he must have struggled to force West to spend 43 days in jail for the crime of beating a woman in public, while using racial slurs. Consider that when Michael Vick was sentenced for the crime of dog fighting he was given 23 months. Vick has also had to go to great lengths to prove that he is rehabilitated, whereas; West simply had to paint a few trailers. West’s sentence declared that Hill’s bruised and battered body was worth less than a dog, and this is further entrenched by the the fact that penal justice system saw no need to force him to serve his paltry sentence.
They say that justice is blind, but can you imagine for one moment, a Black man getting such preferential treatment had he beaten a White woman in public? Even though Black men exist with gender privilege relative to Black women, racism would ensure that he paid a stiff penalty for that crime. No matter how post racial or post gender some people claim this world is, some bodies are still clearly valued more than others.