After reading that headline, you probably have two questions:
1. Is this real?
2. Was the woman a poor person of color?
The answers are “yes,” and “of course yes.”
According to the New York Times, someone—likely security guards—in a Brooklyn food stamp office on Friday called the cops on 23-year-old Jazmin Headley, who sat on the floor with her one-year-old daughter since there were no chairs available in the crowded space, where she had been waiting for two hours. The cops came, the situation escalated immediately, and it ended with one of the officers literally yanking the woman’s baby from her arms:
The Times has the description, and see if it sounds familiar from literally every other horrifying police video you’ve seen in recent years:
After a verbal dispute with a security guard, someone called the police, according to Nyashia Ferguson, who posted the video…
A female security guard eventually approached Ms. Headley, and several more guards followed as a verbal dispute escalated. Ms. Ferguson said they taunted Ms. Headley and laughed in her face before leaving.
Ten minutes later, they returned with the police, Ms. Ferguson said. A fearful expression crossed Ms. Headley’s face as they approached, she said.
The police officers asked Ms. Headley to come with them, Ms. Ferguson said. When she tried to explain, they cut her off. The situation quickly devolved into chaos.
“The baby was screaming for his life,” said Ms. Ferguson, who was there with her 7-month-old daughter. “The lady was begging for them to get off of her. I was scared.”
Amazingly, the officer who tried to yank the baby away later waved a stun gun at the furious crowd. Headley was charged with resisting arrest, “acting in a manner injurious to a child” (apparently you can charge a civilian for something the cop does?), obstructing governmental administration and trespassing. She’s being held on Rikers Island without bail, and her son is with a relative. Which, of course, introduces issues of trauma to the child, and will likely cost Headley money she doesn’t have due to the financially punishing nature of our judicial system.
The woman who posted the video had this to say about the security guards and police:
“They’re always rude,” Ms. Ferguson said about the guards in an interview. “They think that people that are poor don’t have nothing, so you can treat them any kind of way.”
She disputed the police account of the incident and said the officer who waved the stun gun, not a security guard, had forced Ms. Headley to the ground.
The police “didn’t help at all,” she said. “They made it way worse.”
The NYPD called the video “troubling,” but said little else in the beginning stages of an investigation. We’re reduced once more to hoping that the police hold themselves accountable, and send a message that being poor is not a crime. But we don’t recommend getting your hopes up.