I, an Afro-Latina Woman, Was Attacked By an Officer

Policeman's hand on gun
Policeman's hand on gun

I am the last person I would ever expect to be attacked by an officer. I am not a violent person. I do not own guns and I pose no threat because my life is driven and will continue to be driven by understanding humanity. This is not something I am just saying but something that those who know me closely, or who are even know me vaguely, understand. I own a subscription box business called the Love Yourself Box, which focuses on helping people show themselves self-love. I published a book about how we can live a fulfilled life every day. I have been and will always be an advocate for those who are unable to speak for themselves. Even my aspiration in life, which is to become a film director in order to show the world that there is something good, central, and beautiful in humanity, will tell you that I am not the kind of person who gets thrown against a wall and who has bruises and cuts from a police attack.

I know that often people try to rationalize police brutality and I feel that I have to over-explain who I am. This is in hopes that the reader understands me better and possibly sees that I did not deserve what I got that night.

To start, I should explain that I am a senior in college. I study History and am currently awaiting news on whether I will be attending NYU to study Screenwriting as a graduate student next fall. My University does not have a football team and as a senior I had never attended any of our basketball homecoming games. Early this month my friends invited me to go to homecoming and then an after party at a club that we usually don't attend. I saw no harm in joining in school festivities since I never had before.

That night I was thrown against a wall and put in handcuffs by a police officer. Because my friends and I were at a club that we do not normally attend we didn't know that fights were common in this club. If it hadn't been for the fact that the club was filled with students from our university we would have left. In fact, it was so full that it was difficult to move from the dance floor to the restroom without running into someone. I didn't drink very much because I hate the feeling of not knowing what I'm doing. So I was relatively sober. A fight broke out. I was just a bystander but my thought process was, if these men are fighting there is a possibility they have a gun so I need to get my friends and we need to move away from here. There was a lot a chaos because people were trying to move away from the dance floor and when I looked around I saw that a girl was beginning to try and attack one of my friends. I grabbed my friend to prevent this and this is when the police officer grabbed me and twisted my arm. He twisted it behind my back and I told the officer that he was violating me and that I was just trying to grab my friend so we can move to safety. I asked him for his name, which made him angry and he screamed at me and then a bouncer grabbed me and manhandled me out the door. At one point my friend saw me and grabbed my hand, probably thinking that I was just getting stuck in the crowd. At that, the bouncer picked me up violently and pushed me towards the exit. The exit was less crowded and a few other students tried to stop the bouncer, saying things like, "she did nothing". Though I am sure they were only saying this because they knew who I was and not because they had seen what had happened. An acquaintance of mine who had known me since I was a freshman, and who was also a white male, saw the commotion and followed me and the bouncer outside. All the while I was trying to explain that I was just trying to grab my friend from the violence.

Once I was outside, I stood trying to explain to another bouncer that I didn't understand why his friend had touched me so violently when there were men fighting inside and I was trying to get to safety. While I was speaking the same police officer appeared from nowhere and grabbed me and started to twist my arms together and push me against the wall. I began, again, to try and explain that I was just grabbing my friend and he told me to stop resisting arrest. I told him I'm educated. I told him he had no reason to be putting me in handcuffs because I literally was doing nothing, just like he had no reason to twist my arm inside the club. I told him he was hurting me. I asked him what he was doing. He told me I was resisting. He pushed my head violently, and the white male friend whom I mentioned earlier, came up and asked the officer to calm down because he was hurting me. The officer told me he was my throwing my ass in jail and when I tried to call mom he took my phone and I told him that he didn't have a right to do that., to which he had nothing to say.

I tried to remain calm but obviously my body was shaking (I have anxiety) and I was on the verge of tears. It was as though I was less than human. This officer was so quick to assume that I was doing something wrong, and even quicker to treat me violently in a way that I would never treat another. During the moments he was mishandling me he saw no humanity in my person. I was not sure whether it was because I was black or because I was a woman, but I know that no man was treated that way that night. I told the officer I would write about him. He said he didn't give a damn. I told him that he couldn't arrest me because I hadn't done anything and he would also ruin my chances at graduate school and he said nothing to this. In those moments all I could think was that my whole life was about to go down the drain and for what? For being a black women in the wrong place at the wrong time? What a stupid waste. I was grateful that my friend had followed us outside and was there because if he hadn't been I do not know how much violent my encounter would have been. I learned that night that I am supposed to reduce all agency and trying to explain myself or asking questions is "resisting" when being handled by officers.

Never have I been so shaken or violated in my life. I have a cut on my arm from either the bouncer or the officer. I was the only one, to my knowledge, put in cuffs, thrown against the wall, and threatened. The men who fought weren't even taken (again, to my knowledge). After the officer calmed down and actually spoke with me, he realized that I had done no harm. He apologized and took me off the handcuffs because of course, I wasn't being a threat to anyone I was just trying to move to safety. At the time I accepted his apology and I told myself that if I had been a threat than he was acting in the best way he thought fit.

However, thinking over it a few days later, I'm still shaken and upset. I still have a cut on my arm. I was still violated by men twice my size and I'm still hurt by how easily it was assumed that I was criminal or causing chaos. I'm still upset about how ready the officer and bouncer were to hurt me for no reason. I can't make peace with that night. Who would I hurt when I stand for and try to understand all people? I cried so much after I was released and back with my friends. And when I woke up the next morning still shaking with anxiety and crying. I had bruises in the morning and there was skin peeled off my arm. I don't think anyone can tell me that black women aren't treated differently when I was attacked and I'm not even a violent person. It upsets me even more that they didn't take the men at all.

At first I wasn't sure whether I should press charges or file a complaint but I see now that it may be what's right. I know the officer apologized and I do feel bad for him, because maybe he really did see nothing wrong with his radical behavior. That doesn't make it right though. And what if he was apologizing from fear instead of concern and he does this again, but he really hurts someone. There is so much confusion and pain and I can never forget that night. However, I am glad that now I know, first hand, how a situation can escalate during an encounter with a black woman and an angry officer. If the officer had grabbed someone else that way I would rationalize my pain without using race or gender, but he didn't. Now I can understand the fear and frustration from my brothers and sisters better.