by Viridiana B. Martínez
I recently ran across the case of Stephanie Nickerson. She’s a 25-year old Black mujer who was beaten by a Durham Police officer. She was chillin at her friend’s house when the police showed up. Stephanie told her friend she didn’t have to open the door. The officers had no search warrant.
Things escalated. Before she knew it, Stephanie was being slammed to the ground, held by the neck, and punched in the face and head. Stephanie had just become a victim of police brutality.
Whatever your stance is on the level of authority law enforcement has, we can all agree that Officer Brian Schnee had no reason to even touch Stephanie. Stephanie’s friends and family and the Durham community are asking folks to sign the petition asking Durham Police Department to immediately drop all charges against Stephanie, suspend Officer Schnee while a full and independent investigation takes place, and file assault and battery charges against the Durham police officer.
As an illegal immigrant mujer, I know too well the many ways in which local law enforcement abuses of its power. About six months ago, I met an illegal immigrant woman at Broward Detention Center by the name of Laura Cartagena (A# 078-922-847). Laura is detained at BTC after a Miami police officer entered her home, beat her down, and arrested her. Laura was visited by an investigator at Miami Police’s anti-corruption unit. He told Laura she had no charges, took photos of her bruises, and asked her why she is still being detained. Laura remains held at Broward Transitional Center where she could be deported any day despite being eligible for a U-Visa.
Both Stephanie and Laura are now dealing with the trauma of being beaten and completely stripped of their humanity. The consequences of what these two mujeres of color are dealing with may not be the same; justice for Laura has not even begun to happen as she’s still detained and faces deportation every single day. However, the common denominator in these cases is that both of these women, like many women of color, are the victims of a racist criminal system that funnels our communities into prisons and detention centers. You can shout and rejoice every single day because our president is black and blah blah blah. But what good is that if our communities are STILL criminalized?! What good is that if our communities are STILL marginalized?! What good is that if the officer who attacked Stephanie is still “protecting and serving” the Durham community and Laura is still facing deportation to a country where she could be killed?!
As the directly impacted by this broken system, we must unite and we must fight back.