Alan Pogue, Good Samaritan, Reports on the Man Who Beat Him

Alan Pogue wrote at the time on the subject of his new look: “All I need is the two knobs, one on either side of my neck, for the perfect Halloween mask.” Halloween has passed, as all things do, and Alan is back to being pretty.
Painful self-portrait by Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog.

‘The premiere episode of Law and Order: Austin? Not this time. It was a very real night scene in the mellow central Texas mecca, where, as with every other American city, much lies beneath the surface.’
By Thorne Dreyer
/ The Rag Blog / November 25, 2008

See ‘Willie McDade: A report on the man who attacked me’ by Alan Pogue, Below.

One late night in late April of this year, Alan Pogue was severely beaten when he tried to save a woman’s life on a street corner in east Austin. The woman, presumed then by Alan to be a prostitute, was being pounded by two others. Alan — the noted Austin photojournalist, social activist and frequent contributor to these pages — pulled the two women away from their victim but was sucker punched by their pimp.

The premiere of Law and Order: Austin? (Episode: “Pimp wars in music city: A sour note for a good Samaritan?”) Or maybe Friday Night Lights Out? Sorry, no “day for night” here. It was a very real night scene in the mellow central Texas mecca, where, as with every other American city, much lies beneath the surface.

Alan’s injuries brought a lot of pain and required surgery to his eye socket, but mostly he had to suffer through being not so pretty for a while.

His assailant went to trial this week, and below Alan turns court reporter, updating us on the legal developments. But he also gives us some background on the perp and the victim and places it all in a societal context so often lacking in today’s world of news reporting.

Following Alan’s update, we are publishing again his original story which was reposted widely and drew much attention.

Willie McDade: A report on the man who attacked me
By Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog / November 25, 2008

The trial of my attacker, Willie C. McDade, Jr., 25, was held on Nov. 4. He had two prior felony assault convictions, one of them a domestic case, so this conviction triggered a 25 year minimum. The jury was confused about the importance of the weapon and the theft. They convicted him of the aggravated assault with serious bodily harm, only. Had they convicted him of assault with a deadly weapon while in the commission of a theft then he would have gotten life in prison.

McDade had a bad attitude and displayed it. He showed no remorse, not even fake remorse. His defense attorneys did everything they could for him. He will come up for parole in 7 1/2 years. The problem for him is that he was already fighting with the guards in the county jail. I discovered that his father has four felony convictions. His mother is nowhere in sight. No one came to the trial for him. His brother is married into another extended crack family. But even within this group Willie is persona non grata.

The boyfriend of the mother of the other man who had been with McDade did testify that it was the two women who beat me up. The jury discounted the “women” part but this witness did identify McDade as being there and so unwittingly helped convict McDade. The woman I stopped to help, is in another state with her sister. She has a job and is receiving counseling.

She and her mother, who I met at the trial, thanked me very much for saving her life and turning her life around. It turns out that the knowledge of how badly I was injured is what snapped Tracey out of her self destructive pattern. I do not suggest this as a form of social work or psychological intervention.

This is a big onion. There is McDade’s whole extended, intertwined crack family. There is the crack cocaine and where it comes from, how it gets here, and why so little is done about that. More of what Gray Webb was writing about in the San Jose Mercury News series The Dark Alliance on the Contras, cocaine and the CIA.

McDade’s criminal career started when he was 12, with his father as a role model. His siblings and their partners are in and out of prison on a regular basis. I am thinking of producing his family tree and where everyone is on it in relation to the illicit drug trade. They are all small time dealers but they have to get the cocaine from others higher up the drug food chain. No Serpico here. I can get the information I want without hanging out in alleys.

Now that I have been sensitized I am noticing the other drug bazaars north, 290 and Cameron Road up to St. Johns, and southeast around Oltorf and Montopolis Blvd. My friends in Lago Vista tell me about the meth labs there. But meth can be made anywhere. Cocaine has to travel a long way, needs lots of help to get here.

Alan Pogue : Photojournalist

Other Scenes: Shaking Hands, Palestine, 1998. Rabbi Arik Ascherman, co-director of Rabbis for Human Rights, shakes hands with Atta Jabber in Atta’s home near Hebron. Rabbi Ascherman often goes to visit Palestinians who have received home demolition orders in order to offer his moral support and sometimes to be arrested peacefully opposing such disrespect for his fellow human beings. Photo by Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog.

‘No good deed goes unpunished’: A cautionary tale of east Austin
By Alan Pogue
/ The Rag Blog / May 3, 2008

Rag Blog contributor Alan Pogue was staff photographer for The Rag, Austin’s legendary underground newspaper, in the late sixties and seventies, and has served in the same capacity for The Texas Observer. He began his career while serving in Vietnam in 1967. He later documented Texas farm workers and has photographed in Texas prisons, in Cuba, in Iraq and Pakistan, in Latin America and the Caribbean. His book Witness for Justice was published by the University of Texas Press.

Alan’s work has often placed him in physical danger but, as it turns out, none as dangerous as the corner of Chicon and Rosewood in east Austin, Texas.

A few nights ago I stopped to help a woman who was being beaten badly by two other women. It was 11 p.m. on Chicon and Rosewood in east Austin. I got the two women off the one on the ground but the pimp for the two women (I hypothesize) snuck up from behind and sapped me. I had to spend a few hours at St. David’s and then Brackenridge hospitals so they could scan my head and put a few stitches in my face. I will recover fully but I will require a bit more surgery on my right eye socket, an “orbital floor fracture”.

Looking on the bright side, the pimp didn’t shoot or stab me. My wallet was taken but somebody found it and called me so I got my ID and checks back. This character was smart enough not to try and cash them. The EMS and emergency people said this type of assault is on the rise. They told me about a man who stopped to help someone with a flat tire only to be beaten very badly. Bad times for good Samaritans, so watch out.

I’ll be back on the job in the middle of next week if all the surgery goes according to plan. I am ok with soup and ice cream. Someone gave me a fine bottle of Scotch but I will have to wait to drink it.

It could be that the beaten woman was on the other women’s turf and the pimp sent them over to run the third woman off. The beaten woman was very thankful to me. We both answered questions put to us by the police. The pimp was upset that I stopped the beating and wanted to show that he was still in charge. After I was assaulted I drove a short distance to my home and splashed water on my face to check myself out. When I returned to the scene the EMS and police were there. I will work with the detective on the case and try to talk to the woman I kept from further injury. There is the possibility that she too was in on a decoy action. I will know she is not if she was willing to identify the women and/or the pimp.

Darn it, I didn’t have a camera on me because it was a short trip to pick up a book to read, “Can Humanity Change?” by Khrishnamurti, kind of ironic. While taking it easy, as my face returns to its normal shape, my mind looks to the wider social context.

Drug dealing and prostitution are a big feature of the stretch of Chicon between Rosewood and MLK in Austin. There are also many churches in the area. Yet the churches do not minister to those most in need. The epicenter of the drug trade, for the impoverished, is 12th and Chicon. This has been the case for decades, sort of an informal red light district. Indigenous eastsiders have been complaining about this crime scene for many years. The police cruise the area frequently but there seems to be no coordinated social services plan to address the problem at its root. Surprise!. No kind and creative approach has been used. Only a minimalist military mind set has been used by the Austin police to maintain an uneasy status quo for this drug district.

The vacant lots are being filled up with new home construction so the territory for illegal activity is shrinking. Much of it has moved down the alley between 12th and 13th off of Chicon. Some truly dangerous characters hang out in that alley (I spotted a fellow with a 12 gauge pump shotgun under his trench coat), so I have not taken to documenting the culture. The open solicitation for drugs and prostitution rises and falls in an unpredictable tide but the activity is constant. Red is the color of the dominant gang so one sees red pants, red caps, red sweat shirts. This level of organization means that there are other people involved who aren’t there.

I see younger people hanging out at the few public coin-operated phones to take drug orders and pass them on to older people. As Jesse Jackson said, “Fourteen year-olds on street corners are not importing drugs. Bankers are importing drugs.”

Many of the people I see at 12th and Chicon are mentally and /or physically impaired. Old people in wheel chairs often sleep on the street in their wheelchairs. More than once I have been offered sex by psychotic homeless women. In the past none of these people has ever done more than offer me drugs or sex. Once I declined they did not persist. Most of the solicitation is done with subtle eye contact so I have learned not to wave back or make eye contact with the solicitors.

In breaking up a fight among three women I stepped into their culture in a big way. The problem all around is that gentrification is forcing two cultures to overlap. I didn’t see “three prostitutes” fighting over territory, I saw one woman being beaten by two other people. They and the pimp made their activity very public in a new overall environment. I wish for the kind and creative approach but as we have seen in Waco and Eldorado, “Shock and Awe” seem to be the only tactics the authorities care to use. When the territory shrinks a bit more”something will have to be done” about what has been ignored for years. The East Side has been the recipient of planned neglect until such a time that it was worthy of being taken over by the West Side and the real-estate interests, both east and west.

I will try and look into the situation for the young woman I saved from a worse beating than she got. Her story should cast light on many forms of neglect in Texas which is always vying for last place in social services.

Go here for the original posting of Alan Pogue’s story on The Rag Blog on May 3, 2008

Also see Man gets 30 years in attack on photojournalist by Steven Kreytak / Austin American-Statesman / Nov. 6, 2008

Please visit Alan Pogue: Texas Center for Documentary Photography.

Find Witness for Justice: The Documentary Photographs of Alan Pogue by Alan Pogue, on

The Rag Blog

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1 Response to Alan Pogue, Good Samaritan, Reports on the Man Who Beat Him

  1. Mariann Wizard says:

    Alan Pogue’s photojournalism work on jails and prisons, and the people who inhabit them, extending into Texas’ notorious Death Row and beyond, is deeply respected and valued by many who work for criminal justice reform. The centrality that this “big onion”, as he calls it, has in his life’s work was emphasized last year with the issuance of his first photo collection, Witness for Justice (UTexas Press). Within this big book, among the Iraqi children, US farmworkers, Cuban fishermen, peace marchers and others who reach us so eloquently from Alan’s silent, black and white prints, the ones who appear most are inmates and reformers whose lives are bound up with this system of institutional barbarity.

    The irony of Alan’s being the victim of assault, while trying to help an assault victim, is “just one of those things”. His compassionate and creative way of dealing with it, however, is amazing, admirable, and quintessentially Alan — we are blessed, Bro, once again, to have you in our midst.

    The head knobs would have been a good idea, tho — I wonder if we could fix some up on a pair of barrettes for you?

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