NYPD Rips Black Mother’s Child From Her Arms During Arrest

When Jazmine Headley visited a public benefits office to resolve a problem with the vouchers that were supposed to help her pay for her child’s daycare, she didn’t expect to be arrested. Who would?

The waiting room was so crowded that she was forced to sit in the floor, witnesses say, and then police arrested her, violently tearing her one-year-old son from her arms in the process.

The video of the incident has gone viral; the police can be seen shaking her son like a doll, and threatening bystanders with a taser for daring to speak up for her.

It’s just the latest in a string of police abuse cases involving the NYPD, and it’s getting national headlines. This case is horrific enough as it is — perhaps unsurprisingly, charges have been dropped after the violence got so much attention and criticism, but her situation highlighted two things.

One is the simple danger of mothering while Black in a country that hates Black women, especially mothers.

Another is the high cost of childcare, and what happens when people can’t afford to pay.

Seven in ten families struggle to afford the costs of childcare; any parents in the audience are probably acutely aware of this issue. Some legislators are thinking about this, with proposals to subsidize the cost of childcare and make it easier for working parents to get by, expanding access to services like the vouchers Headley was trying to access. It’s perhaps bitterly apropos that this situation happened because a woman went to social services to get help with childcare costs so she could support herself.

Getting public assistance is no walk in the park. Low-income people have to fill out mountains of paperwork, some of which is repetitive, rude and intrusive. They often have to visit offices in person, sometimes multiple times, for interviews and to provide documentation. There’s a lot of “hurry up and wait” that has people sitting around in waiting rooms missing a day of work, and they can be treated with a kind of callous indifference by people like the security guards who harassed Headley.

But there’s more. Headley went to jail for several days over this incident, until charges were dropped under public pressure and she was released. That meant she was taken away from her son, who was temporarily placed with her mother during her stay at Rikers. They were reunited, but that doesn’t happen for everyone.

One in eight parents who are incarcerated lose their parental rights, even if their crimes have no direct bearing on their ability to parent. In fact, you’re more likely to lose custody for going to jail over a crime like robbery than you are for child sexual assault or abuse. Women in particular are at especially high risk of losing their parental rights.

If Headley had gone deeper into the justice system, there’s a chance she could have lost custody of her son, even though she didn’t go to jail for doing something harmful or dangerous — she got caught in the system because she was was trying to help him. Separating kids and parents like this is traumatic, and can take children from loving families and into the overcrowded, strained foster system.

As we talk about Headley’s case, we should cast our minds to incarcerated black mothers who haven’t captured public attention like she did. Where are their children spending this Christmas?

Take action!

Tell the NYPD to fire the officers who attacked Jazmine Headley.

Photo credit: Mobilus in Mobili/Creative Commons

44 comments

Sherri S
Sherri Sabout a month ago

Sorry for looking stupid, but I don't understand what she did (if anything) to get the cops so violent with her.

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Lisa M
Lisa Mabout a month ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa Mabout a month ago

Noted.

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Leanne K
Leanne Kabout a month ago

Your police need better training and lots of it

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Mary B
Mary Babout a month ago

It does NOT matter what color the cops were! Bad behavior, and endangering the physical condition of the child is NOT EVER acceptable. Those cops need to be fired, arrested and held with out bail. If they are so stupid that it is an 'impossible situation' for arresting a young woman with a toddler in her arms is considered just too much for them to deal with without violence to child they should never have been hired to be cops.

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HEIKKI R
HEIKKI Rabout a month ago

thank you

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Danuta W
Danuta Wabout a month ago

Thank you for sharing

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Debbi W
Debbi Wabout a month ago

That video has been all over the news. Those officers should never have been officers. They could not have passed psychological tests or the rigorous training it takes to become a police officer, not just a guy with a gun and no , what used to be call, common sense.

There are too many officers who don't think first, just react as if every person were a thug or criminal. This must change, and change has to start at the top, with the police commisioner on down.

Trump has made it worse, but it's up to everyone to make it better. That poor child and his mother will be scared for life unless they receive serious counseling. That is so horribly wrong.

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heather g
heather gabout a month ago

What's wrong with the USA's Justice system .... Seems the majority of these abusive police should be in jail.

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Shirley S
Shirley Sabout a month ago

Who summoned the police & why ? Just for sitting on the floor ?

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