Cathy Young took a deep dive into the Yale story of “napping while black,” seized upon as a battle in the war against racism at Yale. It revealed a few things of social significance about the outrage industry’s use of whatever fodder it could get its hands on, facts and nuance be damned. What it also revealed was how it manufactured villains, even though they may well be the victim of the story if the facts were known. Sarah Braasch may be such a victim.
Braasch sought the body cam video from the Yale Police Department to prove her case, to vindicate her actions, to end the concerted effort to destroy her for the sake of the social justice narrative.
I had spoken with the Ombudsman at the CT FOIA Commission assigned to my docket, and she had expressed her belief that she would be able to get Yale to release the YPD body camera footage to the public, which would have precluded the need for me to attend a hearing in Hartford on October 3rd.
The Ombudsman told me that Yale was claiming the exemption of not having to release uncorroborated allegations. The Ombudsman told me that they had NEVER allowed an entity to withhold a video based upon this exemption. As she astutely pointed out, a video is not an allegation.
Yale, nonetheless, refused to disclose the body cam video. A hearing was demanded, and so October 3 would be the day. Braasch would come to Connecticut for the hearing, and planned to make the most of the trip.
If Yale is going to force me to come to Hartford to get the YPD body camera footage from May 8th, 2018, then I am going to make a spectacle of the affair and drum up as much press as possible.
Whether there will be media interest is unclear. The story had legs when Braasch was the evil racist white woman, but whether there will be interest in Yale’s refusal to release the video is an entirely different matter. A story of racism interests the media. Will a story of a racist hoax have legs? Will this one piece of the story hold interest?
It clearly matters to Braasch, whose life was shredded by the viral story, but attention spans are short, new stories abundant and the concealment of a video that would exonerate the villian of a narrative runs contrary to the greater concerns of social justice. After all, shouldn’t Braasch just suck it up, allow herself to be falsely used as the scapegoat and let it go for the sake of the cause?
But there was a catch for Sarah Braasch. She’s out in Nevada now, and the trip to Connecticut for the hearing required something in short supply, the funds to fly east. But with help, she managed to get tickets and stood ready to face Yale at the hearing.
Then Yale pulled a fast one.
As the contents of the link expressly noted Braasch’s financial limits, Yale’s newly retained lawyer, because they certainly needed new outside counsel to handle a FOIA hearing, would need time to get up to speed. Plus, the new counsel claimed he would be out of the country on the date set for the hearing, which is lawyer code for vacation.
If Yale PD wants a lawyer present, that’s its right. But then, it’s not a right to use a lawyer without knowledge, or the capacity to gain whatever knowledge is needed, in time for the hearing. As for selecting a lawyer who isn’t available on the date set for the hearing, they chose poorly.
But then the witness they claim to need, Chief Ronnell Higgins, who similarly claims to be unavailable on the date set for hearing based on “preexisting commitments,” nails down the strategy. Higgins wasn’t there. Higgins isn’t a witness to anything. And whenever a phrase like “preexisting commitments” is used, it’s to gloss over the question. Is Higgins supposedly needed to oversee war on Iran or does he have tea planned with freshmen? Or does he have no commitments other than doing his job as he would any other day? Who knows?
Braasch, who has already purchased a ticket with the limited funds provided by her friends, would be screwed if the hearing, which shouldn’t happen anyway, gets postponed. And she protested by email the request.
I object to the postponement of the hearing regarding the release of the Yale Police body camera footage from May 8th, 2018, of me only. There is no need to postpone. And, postponement puts me in a state of extreme financial hardship, a fact of which I believe Yale is fully aware. I have already booked my travel, and this travel already put me in a state of extreme financial hardship.
Furthermore, there is no need for Chief Higgins to appear as a witness. He was not present at any point during the YPD body camera footage. He received the same emails as everyone else did regarding the event in question, and I am going to provide those emails at the hearing, as well as emails and police reports that corroborate my reason for placing the call to the non emergency helpline of the Yale Police Department on May 8th, 2018, which Yale is claiming is an uncorroborated allegation, even though I had been instructed, repeatedly, by the Yale Administration and the Yale Police to call the YPD for any reason, at any time, even if I was unsure that their response was necessary.
Additionally, the exemption Yale is claiming is completely groundless. They do not even have a prima facie basis for claiming this exemption.
But, of course, Yale’s request for postponement isn’t about any substantive need, either due to new counsel, Higgins’ availability or the legitimacy of their claimed exemption from disclosure of the body cam video.
Yale is fighting a war of attrition, using Braasch’s financial hardship against her, delaying the disclosure as long as possible so that interest will wane and no one will be interested in Yale’s enabling this story of racism to become part of the indisputable lore, and reflect Yale’s commitment to social justice.
If they have to burn Sarah Braasch to make this happen, that’s the price of Yale’s display of solidarity. And if they can make this as hard, time consuming, expensive and delayed as possible, they can beat Braasch, not because she’s the villain of their story but because Yale has the ability to outlast and outpay her. And what’s one person’s life when Yale is fighting for social justice?