“We Felt Powerless” Black Women In New York Describe Incidents of Police Brutality

July 1, 2015  |  

Recently, I watched an interview with Amsterdam News editor Elinor Tatum and Fox News. And she explained that when she learned she was having a daughter, she was relived it wasn’t having a son. She was relieved because she didn’t want to give bwho would be at risk of facing discrimination and danger from society and the police.

While many may share Tatum’s thinking, sadly, it’s not exactly accurate. Statistics have shown that Black women are just as likely to experience police brutality.

A new video from Fusion’s Collier Meyerson seeks to shine a light on that fact, in speaking to women who’ve been victims of this violence and the family members of victims who can no longer speak for themselves.

Check out a few excerpts and then watch the video in its entirety below.

Crystal Pope, a Harlem resident, said that she had been harassed by the police at least 9 or 10 times.  She described an incident when she and two of her friends were sitting on the bench when police began searching them as they were looking for a male rapist.

“We felt really powerless. It was overwhelming. It was degrading. We felt like one, they were the police. Two, they were men…One of my friends became really hostile. They began to search her but it wasn’t like a regular search that we would be ok with from a man. With the patting of the back pockets and then the front pockets I felt it was really like ‘ok, they’re really overstepping my boundaries.'” 

Another woman, Natasha Duncan, in Brooklyn told the story of how her sister Shantel Davis lost her life to a police officer.

“She was driving up this street, Church Ave, and swerved around a taxi. But when she swerved around, there was an oncoming van that she was trying to swerve out from and turned and hit this pole. An unmarked police car. Detective Atkins and his partner. He went to the vehicle with his gun drawn. He tried to pull her out of the vehicle and his gun discharged. And she was pulled out of the vehicle where she stumbled right onto the white line and died right there.” 

Duncan explained how when the media told the story, they made it seem like it was a high speed chase with a hardened criminal. Duncan said they were reporting it as if her sister was deserving of her death.

Andrea Ritchie, an Attorney and a Soros Justice fellow, explains that minor offenses or behaviors that don’t represent offenses at all, often result in brutality or death because officers entered the situation believing that Black women are inherently violent, animalistic, or superhuman and threatening but ultimately perceiving the lives of Black women as not valuable.

You can watch the full video below.

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