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Protesters Demand Police Officer Be Fired Over Pool Party Incident

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Hundreds of protesters gathered at an elementary school in McKinney, Texas, last night. They were demonstrating in response to a video that became infamous over the weekend. It shows a police officer pulling out a gun and pushing a teenage girl to the ground at a pool party. That officer has been suspended. As Lauren Silverman reports from member station KERA in Dallas, the protesters are now calling for him to be fired.

LAUREN SILVERMAN, BYLINE: This middle-class suburb is about 70 percent white, 10 percent African-American. Last year, it was named the best place to live by a national magazine. Standing in the Texas sun outside of an elementary school, demonstrator Corey Hughes highlighted the irony.

COREY HUGHES: Isn't it very interesting that the number-one place to live in America can still deal with racism and police brutality?

SILVERMAN: A seven-minute video of the pool incident went viral this weekend.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

SILVERMAN: As a few white officers tell a crowd of mostly African-American teenagers to leave a pool party, things escalate. On the manicured green lawn, an officer throws a 15-year-old girl to the ground. She's barefoot in a bright orange and yellow bikini. As he pulls her arms, her towel flies into the grass and he grabs her by the back of the neck.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

DAJERRIA BECTON: Call my momma. Call my momma - oh, God.

SILVERMAN: She yells for her friends to call her mom. A crowd forms, and as two boys approach, the officer takes his gun out of the holster and points it at them. When the teenage girl tries to get up, he straddles her back and holds her down with both knees.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FOX 4 NEWS")

DAJERRIA: He grabbed me, and he, like, twisted my arm.

SILVERMAN: Dajerria Becton spoke to Fox 4 News.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FOX 4 NEWS")

DAJERRIA: He shoved me in the grass, and he started pulling back on my braids.

SILVERMAN: What was supposed to be a cookout pool party in an affluent suburb turned into a violent confrontation. One of the protest organizers, Dominique Alexander, says racism was clearly a factor, and he questioned the officer's sanity.

DOMINIQUE ALEXANDER: It's like you're seeing somebody in the middle of a jungle trying to get every animal down and just get them, and they going everywhere.

SILVERMAN: On Sunday, McKinney police Chief Greg Conley told the press he started a formal investigation into what happened after police were called to the pool on Friday evening. At first, three officers arrived, then the department dispatched an additional nine officers.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GREG CONLEY: Anytime you confront a large group of people, it's a very dynamic situation, and tensions can rise very quickly.

SILVERMAN: Ultimately, officers arrested one young man. The girl who was restrained was uncuffed and released. Still, protesters demanded the officer be fired.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Fire him. Fire him. Fire him. Fire him. Fire him.

SILVERMAN: For two hours last night, protesters marched peacefully through McKinney down Silverado Street to Carmel Mountain, stopping right in front of the iron gates of the pool where the video was shot. Police never intervened, although they were monitoring, a few on horseback. Protester Corey Hughes told the crowd, racism wasn't the only reason they gathered in McKinney.

HUGHES: But understand this protest is not just about black and white. This protest is about wrong and right.

SILVERMAN: And with that, the group, including teenagers with signs, kids on bikes, babies in strollers and police on horses, began to disperse. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Silverman in Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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