Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Situation to Date on Johnny Bonta

Since the May 24 incident in which Johnny Bonta was beaten by two white teenagers in Fernley, Nevada, few mainstream media outlets have picked up the story.  (One notable exception is Al Jazeera, which included a quote from one of my earlier posts).  However, discussion continues throughout the online world and appears to have attracted the attention of some very influential backers. On Sunday Lisa Bonta posted:
This is an update to all of the brothers and sisters who have shown us so much love and support! We are being represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Thank the Creator for them. Johnny is continuing physical therapy on his knee and has injections in his knee. Last week Johnny had an upper and lower scoping and is awaiting the decision for surgery on his nose. Shane is having an mri on his elbow. Alyssa and myself are seeking therapy for post traumatic stress. Thanks to everyone who has donated it has made our lives unexplainably better. Thank you and we will keep u updated. In a couple of weeks we will be holding a community action meeting.
Meanwhile, supporters of alleged assailants Jacob Cassell and Joshua Janiszewski continue to speak up vociferously on their behalf.  The major narrative thread which underlies all of these defenses is that race had nothing to do with this incident at all.  The only racists here are the Bontas and their supporters: they started this fight and then cried "wolf" to defame innocent white boys and hard-working law enforcement officials who are now being threatened with violence and even death. One Cassell supporter claims to have had negative experience with Bonta which proves that the accused were innocent.  In a communication to me he explained:
So, sometime ago, I spent 3 months in Chuchill County jail with Johnny. I ask about the deputy shooting because that's what he bragged about being in jail for. You don't go to prison for 'something about a beer run' Prison is reserved for felons.
He was very intimidating to everyone. Acted like he was some gangster Indian. Took what he wanted, and bullied people around. He pulled the race card when he wasn't given the treatment he thought he deserved. 'It's because I'm Indian, isn't it??' No, no one gets special treatment in jail.
I was a pretty skinny guy back then, compared to know. About 180, to his probably 230. he was very threatening all the time. I stayed out of his way, as did most everyone else.
Probably because no one really cared, and wanted to bother with him.
One morning, after getting our food, he walked right into my cell, grabbed my food and walked out, turning to me and saying 'what are you going to do about it white boy' I walked into his cell, took back my food and started leaving. He punched me. And to the surprise of myself, and everyone else in jail, I beat his ass. His blood was everywhere.. mainly from his nose, and mouth. His face was black and blue, with a grapefruit sized lump over his eye.
For the next 3 or 4 days, he didn't leave his bunk, and wouldn't look at anyone. When he finally came out, he never spoke to anyone. I was only there for about 2 more weeks, and during that time, he quietly sat in the corner minding his own business. The jailers all commented that they were not surprised that someone finally called him on his BS. He didn't cry out for medical help, or claim it was a hate crime. He realized that he had mouthed off too much, and finally got called on it.
So, I know Johnny's character and attitude. And the more I read, and see comments about this incident, it appears to be a long standing feud between two white boys, one from each family, and threatening looks where exchanged, and it escalated to a fight. Johnny is very quick to puff up, and try to start something. And it would seem very like him to have instigated this fight.
It was not a hate crime. it was a mutual fight, that resulted in him getting his ass beat, so now he's crying hate crime for revenge.
I have no idea how much of this claim, if any, is true: Churchill County does not make its court or jail records available online. However, I do note that it carries the usual resentment about Indians crying for "special privileges" and suggests that they only do so when they lose the battles they start.  Neither does it answer several inconvenient questions, like "Why, if this was a 'mutual fight,' were statements not taken from both sides?" and "Why was Johnny Bonta denied medical attention for six days?" As I noted in an earlier entry about Chris Brown, the crime committed is less unforgivable than calling attention to racism aka "playing the race card."

Other defenders have pointed out that both Cassell and Janiszewski have Indian and other nonwhite friends. This supposedly proves that they could not be racists and that Bonta and his son-in-law started the whole thing.  NYPD officer Justin Volpe, who sodomized Haitian immigrant Abner Louima with a broomstick in a notorious 1997 incident, had a devoted black girlfriend. Many of the Long Island teens who engaged in "beaner hopping" and murdered an Ecuadorean immigrant in 2008 had black and Hispanic friends.  It is still unclear as to how this fight started: it is clear that one may have friends and lovers of color and yet still engage in brutal racist attacks.

The resolution of this case is likely to take months, possibly years.  In the meantime ill feeling toward Indians persists throughout the southwestern United States.  On July 20 Paul Beebe and Jesse Sanford of Farmington, New Mexico pleaded guilty to beating a developmentally disabled 22-year old Navajo man, drawing racially and sexually insulting pictures on him, and branding him with a swastika in exchange for a sentence of up to 8 1/2 years.  On June 14 Patty Dawson, a Navajo/Apache woman, was driven off the road and beaten unconscious by three skinheads.  Meanwhile, a new poster has claimed on several forums that there was another skinhead attack in Fernley, this one in the town park.

According to this story, the Lyon County Sheriff's Department allegedly did nothing to arrest or hinder the swastika-tattooed gentleman who beat a 19-year old Indian and told him to "go back to his own country."  (Presumably he is a bigot with a strong sense of irony).  I have received e-mail from the person who has posted this, and who claims that a security camera in the park supports his story.  I will keep you posted on this as further events develop.