We watched as unarmed Black men—Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Jonathan Ferrell, among others—were killed by cops whose duty is to protect the communities they serve. The outrage that followed these killings went viral, bringing a breadth of social and political attention to epidemic police brutality.
Our sons, brothers and husbands aren’t the only ones who suffer at the hands of police. Black women, too, were battered and beaten, accosted and criminalized by overzealous officers who turned disputes into brutal altercations.
ESSENCE photographed three women who survived such encounters. They are the faces of resilience in a society that still has trouble acknowledging our humanity.
The 51-year-old grandmother was apprehended by a California Highway Patrol officer when he found her walking alongside a freeway in July. The officer was caught on video repeatedly pummeling Pinnock’s head with his fists as he straddled her and she lay helpless on the ground. Of her attack, Pinnock told the Associated Press, “I felt like he was trying to kill me, beat me to death.” She won a $1.5 million civil rights settlement and the officer voluntarily resigned.
Ersula Ore, PhD.
Arizona State University assistant professor Ersula Ore, Ph.D., was walking in a street on campus in May when a campus police officer stopped her for jaywalking. He requested that she show her ID and Ore refused, demanding an answer as to why she was being held. The encounter escalated and a struggle ensued, with the officer slamming Ore’s body on the pavement. She was sentenced to nine months probation after pleading guilty to resisting arrest. The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an independent review of the incident.
After a disagreement with a cab driver who called cops to the scene, the former model was thrown to the ground at gunpoint by NYPD officers in May 2006. One cop claimed to not have known whether Adams was concealing a weapon, but he later admitted that it was evident she had nothing on her. A jury awarded Adams $1.2 million for the excessive force used against her, but she says she has permanent back and neck injuries as a result of the attack.