By Stan Santos
It has been 19 months since the brutal, unprovoked attack on Native American healthcare worker Patty Dawson, and her journey for justice is nearing its end. On Jan. 18, after less than three hours of deliberation, the jury presented its decision to Judge Arlan Harrell in Fresno County Superior Court Dept. 62. The jury found Jennifer Frazer guilty of violating California Penal Code 243 (d), “Battery with Serious Bodily Injury.”
On the afternoon of June 14, 2011, Frazer attacked Dawson as their vehicles approached the area of Ashlan and Clovis avenues. According to Dawson, she was not aware of what caused the car behind her to maneuver aggressively, coming into close proximity of her car. She only knew that the individuals, including the driver and at least one male passenger, were gesturing, screaming and threatening her.
What happened when they came to a stop is unclear, as she was suddenly struck with sufficient force as to cause her to lose consciousness and fall to the pavement. What is clear is that, according to Dawson, her injuries included “a broken nose, concussion, nasal passages are crushed, broken bone under my eye on left side of face and deeply bruised ribs that may be broken.”
Frazer pursued Dawson’s car for more than two miles and after catching up to her in traffic, beat Dawson to the asphalt. She attempted to convince the jury that she feared for her small child who was in the backseat, although she declined the option of leaving the scene to avoid the confrontation. She also failed to reveal her fear to investigators.
Throughout this ordeal, people of the Fresno and Clovis communities have had to do some soul searching in regard to several important questions. Is it true that there are several hate groups active in our community? Are these groups or individuals purposefully committing acts of violence against members of ethnic minorities? Do these acts amount to hate crimes? Are law enforcement officers willing to confront this situation or simply hoping these incidents will “go away”?
Dawson Looks Back, Moves Forward
Dawson told Gloria Hernandez, who headed her support community, that “I have come to learn that everyone comes to a defining moment in their life.” The meaning of this statement is dramatically clear: Dawson’s life collided with Frazer’s for reasons only the Creator may understand. Their collision would change both lives and deeply affect their communities. Frazer, with a history of violent outbursts, has not only lost the last round in this contest, but also her children have been taken from her and she has lost her freedom. She is presently being held in the Fresno County jail on a no bail warrant and on Feb. 21 could be sentenced to up to four years in custody.
Dawson, although deeply affected by the memory of the violent attack, can now begin to move on with a new sense of confidence and celebration. She thanked members of the community who traveled from near and far and sat through months of proceedings to support her through this ordeal. Unfortunately, there may be another chapter to this story. As a family member of Frazer was leaving the court, he paused to threaten Dawson’s life in front of several witnesses.
Stan Santos is an activist in the labor and immigrant community. Contact him at email@example.com.