Roxane Gay shines a light on the most recent cases of police violence and discrimination against women that have happened around the world.
Shot in her own home
Earlier this month, a chilling case was reported in Texas: police officer Aaron Dean was arrested and charged with murder after shooting Atatiana Jefferson, 28, through the window of her own home in Fort Worth. Dean had arrived at Jefferson’s house in response to a non-emergency call made by neighbour James Smith, 62, who had phoned the police after noticing that her front door was open and her lights were on.
Seconds before the shooting, Jefferson had been playing video games with her eight-year-old nephew. She approached the window to investigate the noise outside and police bodycam footage showed Dean immediately firing at her. Jefferson was pronounced dead at the scene. “If I had never dialled the police department, she’d still be alive,” Smith said. “It makes you not want to call the police.” A vigil was held for Jefferson in her hometown, where family, friends and neighbours called for justice.
Caught in the crossfire
Hundreds of people have come out in protest after the killing of eight-year-old Ágatha Félix, who was shot in the back by a police officer in a Rio de Janeiro favela. Police were allegedly aiming for a motorbike passing in front of the van in which Félix was travelling. Her death sparked anger towards Rio governor Wilson Witzel, who introduced a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy after promising a “slaughter” of drug gangs. Speaking on behalf of a citizens’ group which documents police violence in the Rio favelas, Thainã de Medeiros called Witzel’s approach “a genocidal policy, a genocide of black people”.
Police in Australia are often accused of racial violence against Aboriginal people, and this has yet again been the case in the city of Geraldton. Yamatji woman Joyce Clarke, 29, died from a gunshot wound after police responded to reports of a woman brandishing a knife. The Yamatji community is demanding answers over the use of guns instead of tasers.
Police are investigating the assault of a 22-year-old black man who was pinned to the ground and beaten by police officers after videos of the attack went viral online. The incident occurred in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district after officers responded to a witness tip about a suspected bicycle theft. Distressing video footage shows one officer detaining the man in a headlock while he is punched and kicked by other officers. Berlin State Police released a statement calling the incident “a serious breach of peace” and has opened an investigation to determine whether or not their officers used excessive force.
Swedish security personnel ignited a debate over racial profiling after footage of a heavily pregnant young black woman being manhandled by officers circulated online. The woman was allegedly caught without a valid ticket before being pulled from the train and pinned onto a platform bench in front of her daughter. Many say it’s indicative of a wider issue of racially motivated police violence in Sweden.
We’ve seen black people murdered by the police all over the world. May we never forget their names. May we rage in their memory.
Photography: New York Times, Getty Images
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