WTF is this?

Why The Cops In That Video Should Be Charged With Child Endangerment, And Cruelty

That baby was yanked away from his mother — why?

Ezinne Ukoha
Dec 11, 2018 · 6 min read

There are so countless viral videos circulating with vigor, that depict young Black women being brutalized by cops, and the reaction is always the same; and the captions are neutralized to insinuate the likelihood that the victim being roughed up by grown men somehow incited violence.

When Chikesia Clemons was overpowered by White cops at the Waffle House who were summoned to throw her out by the manager, who apparently was desperate for reinforcements since she feared for her life, and felt compelled to thwart the imminent attack from a petite twenty-something who was unarmed — we all gasped in horror at the sheer audacity of Chikesia’s horrific attack.

It seems that when it comes to Black women, young or old, all bets are off, and the tendency to physically assault us beyond the realm of reasonability, is the only option that will suffice. Even when we clearly don’t pose a threat due to being unarmed and therefore not dangerous, and despite the possibility that we might actually be innocent, cops are geared up for a fight to the finish when entering any scenario that involves Black people.

But this latest viral sensation is the absolute worst, and if anything there should be a trigger-warning because of the graphic display of violence against a helpless child.

The scene is a desperate one, and it’s set in the over-crowded offices of a social services agency in Brooklyn, NY. Twenty-three-year-old Jazmine Headley is cradling her one-year-old baby in her arms as she calmly sits on the floor, waiting for the chance to renew child-care benefits. It’s never fun or even comfortable to patiently endure the endless lines at these facilities, and while it’s hell accommodating the overflow of bodies and the disorganization that births chaos — it’s even more dire when you add a baby to the mix.

The already anxious mother was asked to get up from the floor by a female security guard, but after spending at least two hours waiting for assistance, Headley was adamant to stay put. Other guards approached, and venomously berated the young woman, who still refused to lose her place in a line that was barely moving.

And then the cops were called, and the situation expectedly escalated.

First off, we can imagine exactly what the onlookers confirmed when they peeped the callousness of the security guards who tend to treat poor folks — poorly — since retaliation won’t produce anything but handcuffs and forceful removal from the premises.

Nyashia Ferguson was front and center throughout the harrowing ordeal, and she captured the terrifying event with the realistic caption of how the victim didn’t stand a chance against the biased security guards — based on her shamefully lowly station:

“They’re always rude.” “They think that people that are poor don’t have nothing, so you can treat them any kind of way.”

They are also miserably bored and annoyed that they have to watch pathetic losers file in and out for the sake of scraps from the government, that add up to a little over what they garner as pay checks. The climate is a sobering reality that can’t be easy to internalize on a daily basis.

There’s also the public shaming that’s associated with receiving government assistance, and I can verify that when I was forced to apply for unemployment a couple of years ago, the process filled me with dread.

I had been out-of-work for awhile — longer than the usual break — and while talking with a friend, she expressed shock at the fact that I hadn’t even considered registering for unemployment benefits in the interim. When I explained the hesitation was due to the embarrassment of being resigned to the defeat of handouts — she convinced me of the truth of how we all deserve a little help every now and then.

It was definitely helpful to have something to sustain me while actively seeking a more permanent arrangement, but it’s remarkable that I never considered that option until it was brought to my attention.

Being in the unenviable position of backs against the wall without the reassurance of a full recovery isn’t the ideal status, and when you’re a Black woman and mother, who has everything to lose when being bullied by unsympathetic and under-paid security guards — shit can turn deadly very quickly.

In this case, the arriving cops were armed and ready to remove Jazmine Headley from the offices by any means necessary.

The video is absolutely insane, as we observe a screaming mother writhing under the forcefulness of NYPD cops, who are resolute in their duty to throw out the Black woman with the howling baby.

As with every case that resembles this one, hastily calling the cops to diffuse a situation never works out for either party. The victim ends up being physically assaulted to the ground, with the props of a gun and Taser paraded with promises of what is to come. The cops end up looking like badged criminals, who don’t have any interest in reasonably addressing an issue that doesn’t warrant that level of violence.

Regardless of whether or not Headley was right or wrong, we can’t continue to accept the deplorable procedures that are implemented with each episode that features a Black woman who is unarmed and dangerous. But this time the stakes are higher because of the baby boy, and how his wellbeing was discarded for reasons that should never exist.

The cops in that video should be immediately charged with child endangerment and cruelty.

What kind of society are we fostering when grown adults can tackle a mother to the ground, while attempting to brutally pull away a baby from her grasp, despite her desperate pleas that are echoed by the cringe-worthy sounds from an infant, that’s being recklessly manhandled?

In what universe is this even remotely recognized as civilized behavior, and why are these criminal acts reserved for Black mothers and their children?

Show me shared footage of cops charging a White mother holding her child, and then throwing her on the hard floor with the intent to incapacitate, while energetically wrestling a screaming and inconsolable baby out of her arms.

The reason you can’t find that evidence is because of the level of disrespect and systemized cruelty that is disproportionately directed at the Black community, and how this method of engagement has been tragically normalized.

Imagine how different this story would’ve unfolded if the security guards had cautiously approached the young Black mother holding her baby, and calmly explained why she wasn’t allowed to sit on the floor. Consider how they could’ve diligently provided suitable options, that would’ve prevented her from being unfairly displaced after spending two hours waiting for assistance.

But the guards urgently placed the unnecessary call, and gratifyingly witnessed the consequences of their actions.

Jazmine Headley is currently being held without bail at Rikers Island — after past charges of credit card fraud — resurfaced. And now she can add the additional charges that villainous officers have levied — “resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration and trespassing.”

This fucked up system has been treacherously designed to guarantee that president Trump and his henchmen will seamlessly avoid prison time, despite glaring rap sheets, but vulnerable folks who don’t have the millions required to defeat the law — have to suffer for the misdemeanors that were inspired by the hustle to survive against the stacked up odds.

It’s one thing for police officers to show up when called in to assess an active situation, but the unforgivable act of violence against a Black mother and child can’t be tolerated. We can’t continue to post, repost, tweet, and retweet, these extremely gut-wrenching videos with gusto, and then revert back to normal status when the numbers dwindle.

These “shocking” documentations that depict the gross negligence and acute unprofessionalism of those who swore to “protect and serve” is the appalling proof of how Black lives never matter — even when a baby’s life is hanging in the balance.

Why in the world are police officers permitted to endanger the life of an infant without issue? Why are over-zealous and bigoted cops hateful to the point of blindness when it comes to rejecting decorum in favor of outright orneriness — regardless of the tiny bodies at risk.

We have a national crisis on our hands, and this emergency is thriving under the ceremony of viral videos, angry essays that writers like me can’t resist filing, and societal endorsement of how the poor, wretched and Black don’t deserve humane treatment under any circumstances.

That baby was literally ripped away from his mother — why?

Update:

Ezinne Ukoha

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Juggling Wordsmith. I have a lot to say, so bear with me. https://medium.com/membership

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