A white security guard who worked at a New Jersey restaurant negotiated a plea deal in the 2021 dog mauling attack of a Black man in 2021, according to NJ.com. The prosecutors never alleged racial bias to be a part of the crime, however, it reflected a common abuse tactic in history that was used to harm or even kill Black people.
In July of 2021, Steven Rudy was seen in a video having a confrontation with Khalif Hunter in the parking lot of Adelphia Restaurant in Glouchester County. Off camera someone is heard shouting an obscenity at Rudy then, seconds later, he is seen charging at the man and releasing his dog to maul him. Hunter testified that Rudy pinned him down on the ground with his knee to his abdomen and commanded the dog to bite him. As a result, he suffered several puncture wounds, according to prosecutors. Rudy was charged with second-degree aggravated assault.
Wednesday, Rudy pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon - the weapon being the dog - escaping jail time. Prosecutors didn’t argue racial bias to be a part of the incident, though locals protested to boycott restaurant after what they deemed to be an attempted lynching. The black and white footage of people being blasted with water hoses and chased by mouth-foaming German Shepards in the 1960s flashed before their eyes all over again.
For a long time canines were used as a weapon against Black people. Scholars even say that the use of dogs as a form of security and control was adopted from Germany and racially implemented in the states.
Read more from JSTOR Daily:
Scholar Tyler Wall doesn’t think it’s coincidental that K-9 units were introduced in police departments across the country during the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, however. Quoting advocates of the day, Wall writes that dogs were deployed as tools to “civilize the savagery of urban (dis)order by pacifying urban space.” In practice, this meant dogs were deployed in the “criminalization of the so-called Negro problem,” to “police the material and symbolic boundaries of the color line,” and to enforce the dehumanization of people of color.
The German connection was overt in Mississippi in 1961. That year, the Jackson police borrowed Happy and Rebel, two German Shepherds, from the Vicksburg police to use against Black college students staging a sit-in in a segregated public library. A local newspaper (“Police Dogs Emphasize Law, Order”) reported, and not in a critical way, that the dogs had been trained by an East German refugee who was a “former Nazi storm trooper who trained Dobermans to guard Hitler’s airports.”
Even before this incident, Ferguson police released a K-9 unit for “crowd control” when protesters marched following the murder of Michael Brown in 2014. Somehow, with these repeated examples of racist abuse, Black people are still gaslighted into believing that bringing up racism and its impact is nonsensical.
If our country moved past these tools of oppression, maybe our community could too.