Black Women Get Beat by the Police Too

by Guest Contributor Renee Martin, originally published at Womanist Musings

This incident of obvious police violence occurred last Novemeber. On Thursday Deputy Paul Schene pleaded not guilty to fourth-degree assault in Superior Court. According to the Washington Times,

    “Schene was investigated previously for shooting two people — killing one — in the line of duty in 2002 and 2006. Both times his actions were found to be justified, said Ian Goodhew, prosecutor’s deputy chief of staff.”

It is telling that Schene did not want the video released because his lawyers felt that it would be prejudicial. Apparently in this instance a picture does not equal a thousand words.

When we think of police violence we think of black men however, black women are routinely beaten and attacked when they are forced to interact with the justice department. When Kathryn Johnston was sitting peacefully in her home and the police stormed in with a trumped up no knock warrant it cost her – her life. This 92 year old grandmother died from 6 bullets.

Dymond Millburn was in her own backyard when undercover officers supposedly confused her with a white prostitute and physically assaulted her. Their confusion was justified because she happened to be wearing short shorts at the time of the incident. In defending themselves they attempted to slut shame her and many participated convinced in their belief that all black women are deserving of such treatment.

Duanna Johnson was sitting in an airport minding her own business when she was physically assaulted by two white police officers. They struck her repeatedly in the head and referred to as a he/she and it. Before she was murdered she filed a lawsuit against the Memphis PD that resulted in two of their officers being fired.

There is also the case of Shelia Stevenson.

For the crime of riding her bicycle on the sidewalk, this woman was punched repeatedly in the face. Former police officer Carlo Drogo accidentally maced his dumb ass and of course had no compunction about making Stevenson pay for his stupidity.

You will note that in all of the above mentioned cases the police departments where quick to attempt to smear the victim. The Philadelphia News makes it a point in their story to report that there is an outstanding warrant for Stevenson. Even if someone does have a previous history of criminal activity how does that justify any of the violence that suffered at the hands of people that are sworn to protect and serve them?

LaTanya Haggerty was catching a ride home with her friend when they were pulled over for double parking. Within minutes she lay dead when the officer confused her cell phone with a gun. Though her family received 18 million in a settlement I am sure they would have preferred to have their daughter in their lives. Caroline Sue Botticher, an unarmed African American woman, died after police in West Charlotte, N.C., fired 22 rounds at the car in which she was a passenger when it failed to stop at a police checkpoint in April 1997. There was no evidence to suggest that anyone in the car was armed. Sandra Antor was lucky enough to escape with her life after being pulled over for speeding. She was however yanked out of her car, and wrestled to the ground by Lance Corporal W. H. Beckwith.

Time and time again black women are assaulted by the police and yet the community only seems to rally when a black man is murdered or otherwise injured. Whose lives do we value? Police brutality is not a genderized issue. Our bodies are routinely beaten and in same cases we are subject to the extra indignity of sexual assault. When we speak about police violence being an issue for the black community it needs to be understood that without the inclusion of black women we are not seeing the whole picture.

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