Crystal Pope: I’ve been harassed by the police about nine or ten times. I hear a lot of similar stories from my friends. We felt really powerless. It was overwhelming. It was degrading. We felt like one, they were the police. Two, they were men.
My name is Crystal Pope. I live on 143rd, between Hamilton Place and Broadway. Me and three friends were actually on these benches right here. As we’re sitting here, a police paddywagon. They were looking for a rapist that was on the move in Hamilton Heights. So with that being said, it was three females there so we’re still like, “All right. We’re females though. You’re looking for a male rapist”. We thought in a way that they were going to just get our ID, check it and leave us after that. One of my friends became really hostile. They were going to search her but it wasn’t a regular search that we would be okay with from a man. It more or less was a patting of the back pockets and then the front pockets. I felt it was really like, “Okay, now I’m overstepping my boundaries”.
I feel very threatened by the police for one. I don’t feel like it’s someone or anyone that you would call on when you need help. It never turns out good in a situation in this neighborhood.
Andrea Ritchie, Soro Justice Fellow, Attorney: Unfortunately I’m no longer surprised by stories but I continue to be deeply enraged by them. For 20 years, I’ve been constantly hearing, “Well, Black and brown men are targets. Black and brown men are profiled” and just almost as a reflex and said, “And women. And Black and brown woman and Black and brown women.” The rates of racial disparities and stops for women are the same as they are for men but we never were able to get that into the center of the conversation.
Natasha Duncan: Today makes it three years to the exact day. She was driving up this street, Church Avenue, and swerved around a taxi but when she swerved around, there was an ongoing van that she was trying to swerve out from and turned and hit this pole. An unmarked police car, Detective Atkins and his partner. He went to the vehicle with his gun drawn. He tried to pull her out of the vehicle and his gun discharged and she was pulled out of the vehicle where she stumbled right onto the white line and died right there.
Speaker 4: Our family stands here because three years ago, we lost my niece Shante [Davis] l to a shooting by NYPD.
Natasha Duncan: The media, when they told the story, it was high speed chase. Mastermind criminal. Almost as if she was deserving of this death. To be afraid of law enforcement and people who are supposed to serve and protect you is heartbreaking.
Andrea Ritchie: What was initially a minor offense very quickly became a death sentence and it became a death sentence because those police officers were responding to those women based on narratives and perceptions about Black women as inherently violent, as inherently animalistic, as inherently superhuman, as inherently a threat but also as lives that are inherently not valuable.