being poor, tired, and black is not a crime

December 11, 2018
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Police violently arrested 23-year-old Jazmine Headley at the Human Resources Administration office in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, yanking her young son from her arms and brandishing a stun gun. Her crime? Being a tired mom.

Headley was violently arrested for sitting on the floor of the crowded office building because there were no more seats.

Headley was at the building applying for city-funded day care while she worked as a cleaner. But long lines caused long waits, so the tired mom sat on the floor.

Nyashia Ferguson, the woman who shot the video that has been viewed over 195,000  on Facebook, told WCBS that this triggered the dispute. “The security guard, I guess she came over and told her she couldn’t sit there,” Ferguson explained. The guard told Headley she’d have to stand. When she refused, police officers and security guards surrounded her, wrestled her to the ground and tried to yank her 1-year-old son from her arms as Headley yelled, “You’re hurting my son!”

One officer pulled out a taser. “She had it in everyone’s face. She had it in the lady’s face and the baby’s face,” Ferguson said.

Headley was handcuffed, arrested, and charged with resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration and criminal trespass, all misdemeanor offenses. 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said  he was “horrified” by the violence in video and said in a statement he would be investigating:

“It is clear to me that this incident should have been handled differently. An HRA officer escalated the situation as Ms. Headley was about to leave the premises, creating an awful scenario of a baby being torn from his mother. The consequences this young and desperate mother has already suffered as a result of this arrest far outweigh any conduct that may have led to it: she and her baby have been traumatized, she was jailed on an unrelated warrant and may face additional collateral consequences.”

On Tuesday morning, the charges against the mother were dropped.