Justice for Jason: attacker history and personal reflections
The court had their point of view of the case and decided to charge Jason with two counts of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon where he could face up to a thirty year prison sentence. On March 13, 2009 the jury acquitted John Bowes of a misdemeanor civil rights violation and found him guilty of misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Jonathan Bosse was never charged with any crime.
On December 31, 2008, Jason’s defense tried to get a motion to dismiss his charges on the grounds of selective prosecution because they found history showing that Bowes and Bosse have past histories of violent racial assaults. This was not the first time they got into a racial incident. They were also part of a white supremacist gang called “the East Milton Mafia.”
Lt Thrasher and Sgt. Jack Richman of the Milton, Massachusetts police department knew Bosse and Bosse due to several similar incidents involving them in Milton. “Incident Number one occurred on January 31, 2003. Bowes and Bosse were described as persons associated with a “Youth Disturbance” that resulted in an unspecified injury to one person. Incident Number two occurred on April 29, 2003. Sgt. William Cawley spoke with David McWhirk about a first fist fight he had with Bowes on April 25, 2003. According to McWhirk, during the fight Bowes struck him above the left eye with the flat end of a hatchet. As a result of this blow, McWhirk received a three inch laceration to his forehead that required ten stitches. McWhirk and his family indicated that they did not wish to pursue charges against Bowes.
Incident Number three occurred on September 24, 2004. Patrolman Joseph Fahey spoke with Arthur Willis about a recent incident. According to Willis, he was riding his bicycle through a field earlier in the evening when he was jumped by a group of teenagers that included Bowes. When Bowes was subsequently interviewed, he claimed not to have been anywhere near the location of the attack. However, when Officer Fahey spoke with Bosse, a supposed alibi witness, he did not corroborate Bowes and officer Fahey indicated his intention to seek a criminal complaint against Bowes for assault and battery.
Incident Number four occurred on January 1, 2005. Sgt. Crawley interviewed Madeline Deshazo. According to Deshazo at a party the previous evening Bowes arrived under the influence of alcohol. Deshazo stated that Bowes proceeded to scream at her while ” lung(ing) forward toward her” in such a way as to put her ” in fear of being pushed or grabbed by him.” When Deshazo responded by striking Bowes out of fear, he poured a bottle of beer on her shirt. Deshazo also reported that Bowes repeatedly harassed and abused her at Milton High School by insulting her in the corridors and calling her a “whore” and “cunt.” She stated further that she was terrified of Bowes and tried to stay away from him at school. At the conclusion of her interview Sgt. Crawley spoke with Bowes who admitted pouring a beer on Deshazo as an act of “retailiat(ion).”
Incident Number six occurred on July 23, 2005, Patrolman Brendan Douglas responded to a report of youths fighting in the street. At approximately 10:15 P.M., Bowes and three white companions flagged down Officer Douglas and informed him that they had just been “jumped” by two African American adolescents named Teion Evans and Ronnie Hughes. During this conversation, Bowes showed Officer Douglas his hand and claimed to have been stabbed by Evans and Hughes. Officer Douglas subsequently located Evans and Hughes and searched them for weapons; none were found. During his conversation with Evans and Hughes, five eye witnesses emerged and insisted that Evans and Hughes were the actual victims. According to Ivy Sweeting, Evans and Hughes were being chased by four white males who repeatedly used the word “nigger” while chasing them. Hughes and Evans both stated they were walking down the street when a car driven by Bowes approached. Hughes and Evans said that Bowes and his three Caucasian companions proceeded to scream, “Niggers. Come fight us you pussy niggers.” Bowes and his friends then exited the car and began punching Evans and Hughes with closed fists while continuing to scream “pussy niggers.”
When an unknown motorist stopped, Bowes and his companions got back in the car and left the scene. However Hughes and Evans encountered Bowes’ group a short time later. During the second encounter, the victims stated that Bowes was carrying a “small metal club,” and his companions armed themselves with sticks that had nails protruding out of them. Bowes and one of his companions then chased Hughes as Bowes’ two other companions chased Evans. Hughes stated that Bowes and his companions initiated the attack because they were upset that Hughes was in an interracial relationship with the cousin of one of Bowes’ companions. Several adult witnesses later interviewed by Officer Douglas confirmed the account provided by Hughes and Evans, stating that they observed black males being chased by white males with sticks. Later in the evening, Bowes came to the police with a parent. When asked if he had been stabbed as he had earlier told the police, Bowes admitted that he had not. When asked if he had a metal stick, Bowes conceded that he had been carrying part of a shovel handle. Officer Fahey then placed Bowes under arrest and charged him with assault by means of a dangerous weapon and civil rights violations.”
Throughout the whole Justice for Jason incident and case Jason feels as if the prosecution and UMass police have treated him unfairly. “Faced with a case in which the violent and racist motivations of Jason’s white attackers were clear, the District Attorney chose to pursue excessive charges against a young black victim with no criminal record, an exemplary academic standing, and outstanding personal reputation for being a nice person. There we stand as a community united for true justice, demanding that the District Attorney drop all charges against Jason Vassel.” I agree with the statement that was published on the Justice for Jason website which can be found at www.justiceforjason.org/ but because what the court system is doing it is not fair. There is no way that a person with a clear record that refused to fight the kids, thought his friend called the cops for him, and then when one of the kids WHO DID NOT ATTEND THE SCHOOL WHO SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ON THE CAMPUS WITHOUT A UMASS STUDENT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT started attacking him and his life was on the line he had to protect himself. I’m not saying him using a pocketknife was right but it was two people against him. The question I ask for you was Jason supposed to just let them beat him to death? What would you have done if you were in his situation? How can two people that should not have been on the UMass Campus without a UMass student, that have been involved in previous violent racial assaults, end up with no charges? Which brings the question to everyone still today is the Justice System fair for everyone?
UMass is not the only place where there is racism. Racism occurs all across the world in different schools, different neighborhoods, it is everywhere. For example as a young black man myself I feel for Jason, and like the majority of black men in the world this is not new to us. We have been through many similar situations and it has become something that we are used to now. Not that I have anything against white people prior to incidents with white people in the past but I have been told that a lot of white people on campus are prejudiced which is why I do not go to a lot of parties that are held by the white students.
I am not racist or prejudiced but I do not want to put myself in a similar situation to Jason or worse and not going to their parties is a way to prevent myself from getting in trouble. This past fall semester a few of my African American friends from the basketball team, two white females, and I were driving around looking for something to do. The two white girls said they knew about a white party that her friend that was having. The party said she was welcome to attend and that she could bring friends. When we pulled up to the house, there were a lot of people in the backyard and house. Before we even got out the car a white kid came up to the car and said “sorry you guys can’t come here we’re ending the party soon and there is no parking.” I knew immediately that the party wasn’t over because no one was even leaving the house or backyard and there was plenty of parking.
I knew it was more than just that having been in previous where white people are afraid of black people because they think we all steal or start trouble. Even though I have been through these situations time and time again it still hurts me because I don’t understand why it is 2011 and racism and prejudice is still going on but it’s part of life and I’ve been in so many incidents it just has become normal so there is no point to bother now. Another incident I was involved when a few of my African American friends and I were at another party held by a white friend of ours who lived in a predominately white neighborhood. Some of the white kids that were trouble makers in that area had not been invited, so they started causing trouble outside of the house. All the people in the party and us went outside asking the kids to leave but they refused to leave. Eventually the uninvited kids started a brawl with us and even started calling all of us black kids “NIGGERS!” They even were hitting kids with skateboards but before things got worse the other black kids and I left because we knew if cops came they would not be on our side even if some other white kids were on our side. It is just how some things go.
I have many experiences but I will leave you with one last story. I was at a park late at night with two white male friends and one white female friend just hanging out enjoying the summer night, but I guess we were not supposed to be in the park that late, so the cop flashed his lights on the park and came and told us we were not allowed to be there. When we got out of the park and reached the parking lot the cop decided to search the two white kids and I. I had on basketball shorts and tee shirt while the other two kids had on pants and a shirt. The cop did a light pat down on the two white kids and let them go. The cop patted me down twice and touched around my private area. It was not right that he barely patted the two white kids down but he chose to pat me down twice and touch my private area just because of my skin color. I wanted to take the officer to court but the chances of the court system believing officers over kids is rare and the court system would take too long to finish the case so I didn’t bother.
Just like me many other African Americans have the similar incidents and sometimes even worse. That is why the whole black community can relate and always is on the side of another African American because still to this day, even though it is said that everybody has equal rights, that is not true for both women and minorities.
When I found the Republicans were not on Jason’s side I wasn’t that mad but when I found out that the UMass administration and authority had done nothing to try to help one of their students, I was disgusted. They gave Jason two options to be suspended from college or withdraw from all his classes. That is understandable seeing he was going to be in jail for a little while and wouldn’t be able to attend all his classes. But the thing that had me baffled the most was that if you go on the UMass website you will not find any information regarding Jason. It is as if they pushed everything under the rug and as if Jason never existed or was part of the school all over one incident he tried to avoid. It is as if they are ashamed that he was part of the school even though he was an outstanding academic student and nice person. It just makes me think what type of family tradition is the UMass administration holding if they can’t stand up for their own family member the way real families stand up for each other no matter what.
It’s great that both sides and the District Attorney have come to an agreement but it is extremely sad it took so long for them to come to agreeable terms. It sad because UMass has pushed this case and incident that happen on its on campus under the rug. Not many people know about this story and many people have forgotten and will never know about Jason Vassel’s story because there is no history. All that time that Jason spent in jail and going through the justice system instead of pursuing his degree in college and starting a career after college was wasted and he will NEVER GET THAT TIME BACK. THE LEAST THE SCHOOL COULD DO WAS SHARE HIS STORY. YOU CAN NEVER REPAY A PERSON NO MATTER HOW MUCH MONEY YOU OFFER. YOU CAN NEVER REPAY A PERSON FOR LOST TIME THEY HAD TO FACE IN JAIL.