Do the names LaShanda Anderson and Sandy Guardiola sound familiar? How about Kayla Moore and Alteria Woods? These are just four of the many black women (both cis and transgender) who have been subjected to police brutality in the last ten years.
Black activists and feminists nationwide are taking to social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram to educate the public and bring awareness to our black sisters who have died at the hands of a broken system. Creating petitions to highlight sisters like Marsha P. Johnson and the four mentioned above and bring justice to their names and their families. All of this activism brings up the question as to why society is shedding a blind eye towards the strife and struggles of these individuals at the hands of the police and society?
It is known that there are a disproportionate number of black men and women being victimized by the police. Police brutality reports and demographics strongly support that, yet many people are now equating this disproportion to that of discreditation. Even though an influx of black men are being killed by police frequently, this should not discredit the many lives of black women and black LGBTQ+ individuals, who too, were and still are being subjected to police brutality. Yes, the media may cover an occasional story or two on a black women being killed by a police officer (hence Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor). However, the black community and society, in general, neglects to acknowledge the many others who have become victims of this systemic racism and violence.
Here is a list of 4 black women (cis and trans) who have been subjected to police brutality in the last ten years.
Phoenix Police were called on Aug. 14, 2014 to pick up a mental health patient in an apartment complex after receiving a state indicted court order. The woman, Michelle Cusseaux, was said to have been carrying a weapon in a "threatening fashion". Upon the arrival of the police, Cusseaux had opened her front door with what appeared to be a "claw hammer". Due to "fear" and close proximity, the police officers shot her in the chest. She was pronounced dead later on that day. Say Her Name.
On February 12, 2013, a friend of Kayla Moore called police to Moore's apartment as she was concerned for her mental health. Moore was an African American, transgender woman, living with schizophrenia. When the police officers arrived at her home, they immediately placed her under arrest. It is unknown how Moore reacted, but the encounter ended with her being wrestled to the ground by six police officers as they tried to detain her. They slowly impaired her breathing and she died shortly after. Say her name.
On March 19, 2017, Alteria Woods was home with her boyfriend Andrew Coffee III, when SWAT team members broke into their window attempting to look inside. Coffee III fired gunshots at the SWAT team which prompted them to shoot back in defense. Unfortunately, Woods was in the line of fire and was shot and killed. She was only 21-years-old and planning to attend Pharmacy School. Say her name.
On December 26, 2015, Chicago police officers were called to an apartment complex around 5 in the morning. They were said to be confronted by a combative subject, prompting them to discharge their weapons. Bettie Jones was instructed by the father of the combative subject to keep an eye out for the police. Upon arrival of the police, shots were exchanged and Bettie Jones was tragically struck and killed. Although the Chicago police department introduced a policy change following her death, Jones's family is still in search of answers. Say her name.
Four black women with ambition, drive, and promising futures. Four lives taken too soon. Since when should being mentally ill automatically warrant poor treatment by law enforcement? How can police officers continue in the force, if they are "accidentally" killing bystanders?
I neglect to understand how anyone could disregard and forget these women and many others like them. Their names need to be known and held on the same pedestal as Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Philando Castile and the thousands of other black victims of police brutality (regardless of gender and sexual orientation). Do not let them die in vain.
It should not take black women and black LGBTQ+ individuals to bring awareness to their own struggles with police brutality within the black community. As a community we need to be able to support each other and raise awareness collectively. Division only stifles change.
For more information on this subject please visit the following sites:
#SayHerName Campaign: https://aapf.org/shn-1
Know their Names: https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2020/know-their-names/index.html
Black Lives Matter: https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/