Brandi Worley: The Aftermath of a Racist Hurricane Isaac Assault

In September, 2012, I wrote about a racial incident involving a black woman named Brandi Worley.  On the 18th of September, 2012 while overseeing and helping coordinate cleanup efforts in Grand Isle, Louisiana following Hurricane Isaac, Brandi was assaulted by a white male proprietor named Josh Jambon.

A brief summary of events (per the police incident report): displeased with how hurricane debris was being cleared away in his neighborhood, Jambon rushed from his home and assailed Worley and two other black women who were also working as debris assessors [for Metric Engineering, a FEMA contractor], in a flurry of racial epithets and expletives during cleanup efforts following Hurricane Isaac.  Jambon reportedly slapped and pushed one of Worley’s coworkers and slapped the other female worker in the face before physically and verbally attacking Worley.

Brandi Worley

Worley was able to record some of Jambon’s tirade with her mobile phone, which seemed to incite him more, culminating with him spitting in Worley’s face. The video footage also captured the sounds of Worley struggling to prevent Jambon from snatching her phone and pleading with Jambon not to touch her.  It should also be noted that male crew members stood by idly and watched as Brandi and the other two female assessors were attacked. After being made privy to Brandi’s recorded footage, Jambon was arrested. He then proceeded to threaten and antagonize an arresting female police sergeant. Jambon was released shortly after his arrest.

Time moved forward and Brandi Worley’s story—(as is par for the course when black women are the targets)—seemed to fade into the ether, forgotten in the shuffle of other news events; and today marks almost a year since the incident happened.

Determined not to let Brandi’s story disappear from public consciousness, and to remind us of the racialized gender violence and microaggressions black women are subjected to, a member of Brandi’s legal team reached out to me with an update on developments since September 18th, 2012.

On August 15th, 2013 Worley’s attorney, James Benton III filed a civil suit against Josh Jambon, who was scheduled to appear in a Grand Isle court; Brandi Worley was also subpoenaed to testify against her attacker. Unsurprisingly, Jambon and his attorney failed to show up in court—Jambon’s attorney claimed that he was sick—prompting the judge to order a continuance to be determined at a later date.  Jambon, who is expected to plead not guilty, could face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

With this new information, I’m genuinely interested in finding out how far Brandi and her attorney take their case. My hope is that she receives some restoration to her dignity and some semblance of justice, after the hurt and humiliation she endured last year, while trying to perform her job. My gut (perhaps precipitated by my increasing jadedness towards race relations) tells me Jambon will receive nothing more than a paltry fine and, privilege intact, he’ll continue feigning the role of ‘upstanding’ businessman and pillar of the community. Because in ‘post-racial’ America, calling a black woman a n*gger and spitting in her face can be written off as a “mistake” we’re expected to “get over,” and the aggressor will still be lauded as a “good person” who was upset and who apparently expresses his anger towards black people by using the N-word liberally, while flying into a violent and blind rage.

Whether or not Brandi and her attorney decide to pursue a civil suit for a hate crime, remains to be seen.

In case you’ve missed this one, watch the video below: