November 1, 2007

Police Force Unarmed Pregnant Woman at Gunpoint to Side of Busy Freeway

Villagers, we are joining with others in The AfroSpear to blog for justice and protection of our Black Women and families. Rape is a physical act of violence. However, you can violate a sister's soul without sex being involved.

Drumbeats came to us from The Whirlwind Listserv about a situation earlier this summer with Yvette Hayes, a pregnant Kansas City principal. It turns out that two white Independence Police officers stopped her on Interstate 70 after dark and made her lie on her belly alongside speeding cars. Click here to see 4-minute unabridged video of the police interatction with this sister.

Villagers, there is no way to defend forcing an unarmed pregnant woman to the ground AT GUNPOINT on the side of a busy road. No matter her race, social standing, criminal record. Period. Even ABC News recognizes that this was wrong on so many levels.

Yvette Hayes, 33, thinks she was a victim of racial profiling by police and employees at the J.C. Penney store. Tim Lyons, a spokesman for J.C. Penney Co. Inc., said the store's security staff notified police that they had seen a vehicle -- a green Jeep Cherokee -- resembling one observed in a series of car thefts and break-ins. Police suspected that the vehicle Yvette Hayes was driving was connected with a series of car thefts. It apparently was a case of mistaken identity. Hayes was driving a green Jeep Cherokee.

Hayes described the situation as follows:

On July 13, Hayes and her two daughters (4-year-old and an 18-month-old) were with her. They arrived at 9:56 p.m., and her sister already was inside. The store was closing, so Hayes stayed in the Jeep, listening to gospel music and checking e-mail. When her sister left, she followed. Hayes said she headed home on I-70. At 10:17, she said she saw a police car behind her, lights flashing. She said she immediately pulled over.

She said police put a spotlight on the Jeep and gave orders with a loudspeaker: 'Put your hands out so I can see them! Throw your keys out the window! Step out of the car with your hands behind your head! Walk backwards until I tell you to stop. Get on your knees! Lay on your stomach!'

Hayes said she complied.

'I did yell out I was pregnant,' said Hayes, who was six months pregnant at the time. 'I was horrified. It was very difficult. I was tossing and turning.'

She said she was on the interstate shoulder with cars zooming by. After two or three minutes, the officer told her to shift onto her back. She said she rolled over and saw officers aiming guns. They asked who was in the car.

'My kids!' she replied. Hayes said she was confused, and she feared for her life. She said an officer looked inside the Jeep and said she needed to calm the children. She said officers pulled her to her feet and told her she was stopped because the store said she was stealing cars.

One officer allegedly said, 'You must be a good car thief to be pregnant.' The sergeant came to the passenger door and apologized, saying, J.C. Penney needs to get 'their act together,' Hayes said. She said her 4-year-old daughter is traumatized, afraid of police and thinking they 'don't like her mommy.'
Amazing how the Republicans always talk the talk about respect for life in the abortion debate ... yet, they appear to be silent in this case of police brutality on an unborn Black child inside the woman's womb as she repeatedly pleaded to the officers to realize she was pregnant.

Some will say that I'm seeing race where it isn't involved.

However, all of us should know that the day before Ms. Hayes was humiliated and abused by the police the JC Penney security officers at the store directed police to another green Jeep. Police stopped its driver, who was white, politely asked him questions as he sat in the car and let him go.

That seems like different treatment by the police that is either race or gender-based. You do the math:
  • White guy treated with respect.
  • Black woman treated with disrespect.

Villagers, had you heard of this story already? What do you think about the facts as you now know them? What say u?

22 comments:

Jamie said...

If you haven't visited Sheila's site, you might want to. It's a great blog with lots of information about Tennis.

Black Tennis Pros

Villager said...

Jamie - Shelia has a great blog. In fact, she is listed as #88 on the Top Black Blogs list that we are currently tracking.

Digital Flower Pictures said...

When things happen to people like this it makes me sick to my stomach.

Villager said...

Digital Flower Pictures - I agree with you. We can be a cruel people at times.

Anyhow, I appreciate you taking time to visit our village and I hope you come back often.

Woozie said...

Why are you taking the shameful behavior of JC Penny mall cops and combining it with the behavior of separate group of police officers, and then taking the actions of those officers and comparing it with the separate actions of yet another three officers? Each of those groups thought and acted independently of each other because they were in different places at different times.

Her car looked like one connected to a series of robberies, right? It's probably protocol to force the driver of that vehicle to the ground, who is at this point suspect, at gunpoint. Thieves are usually armed.

Yes, she's pregnant, and forcing a visibly pregnant woman to the ground is irresponsible on their part, but it's not evidence of racism. Crazier things than pregnant burglars have happened.

They sounded pretty comforting when she started crying, and pretty rational when she stopped towards the end.

And where does the republican party come into this?

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Nope, this is the first I've heard of it. The corporate media has a tendency to conveniently bury things like this. Look how quickly they have buried Megan Williams. Look how long it took them to begin covering the Jena 6, and those are only the highest profile cases of blatant racist bullshit.

Yea woozie, they "sound pretty comforting" in a condescending way after they realize they've fucked up BIG time. They have the same patronizing tone of voice I use with children or my mother who suffers from alzheimers.

Danielle said...

This is utterly disgusting. The police assume guilt of this woman and treat her as if she is a criminal and they don't check the car for other passengers? Parents, conscious parents have a tough time talking to our children about the police.

I was taught that the police are here to keep us safe. I cannot share this lesson without boundaries to my boys, I can't. I have seen too many instances of police brutality. I say that it is the police's job to make sure people follow the rules, but since everyone is the same and everyone makes their own decisions on how they behave even the police can make big mistakes. I also have taught them never to point their fingers at the police.

There have been far too many instances of the abuse of police power to blindly bestow upon them all encompassing respect.

How can her daughter recover from this? Uggghhhh. It continues to be proven through these experiences that race plays a large part in the assumption of guilt.

Shameful, a pregnant principal, degraded in front of her children and they way in which they respond only after hearing there are children, so insincere to my ears.

Driving a car identified only by make, model and color of a real criminal is not a criminal act. If there is not license plate identification, why should an innocent driver have to succumb to these orders at gunpoint.

Villager said...

Woozie - I appreciate your perspective. The same police department; same procedures; same training --- white guy in green jeep has a polite discussion; Black woman in green jeep is taken out of her car and made to lay on her stomach in the middle of the freeway. Puh-lease Woozie, if you can't see the disparate treatment in this situation, then I'm uncertain that I can help you brotha...

Villager said...

Sagacious Hillbilly - The great thing about the blogosphere is that we are not limited to what the MSM (mainstream media) wants to share with us. We can bring out nuggets of information such as Megan Williams, Yvette Hayes, Jena Six and so forth. Anyhow, thank you very much for sharing your village voice with us...

Villager said...

Danielle - You are on the money with the poor reactions of the police in this situation. You are correct in training your sons to be respectful and very CAREFUL when dealing with law enforcement officials. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely...


peace, Villager

Woozie said...

Which police stopped the white guy? City or mall cops? If they're city cops who all received the same training, then so what? Just because they were trained by the same people doesn't mean they will react identically to situations.

There is now way that the officers could have known Hayes' race when she was pulled over. I don't think the cops pulled up alongside her and said "She's black, let's get her." She probably would have included that in the news story. Hayes was treated as any other suspect would have been, and the only possible misconduct here was forcing a pregnant woman on her stomach, black or white.

She herself said she was lying on the shoulder (not the middle) of the highway. People don't usually drive down the shoulders, and would notice the flashing lights of the police cars, meaning she was probably not in any danger. And if she was, the cops were on the shoulder too-in just the same amount of danger.

Isn't it possible that Hayes' car more closely matched the suspect vehicle than the white guy's green Jeep? Jeep makes a lot of cars, and "Green Jeep Cherokee" is much more specific than "Green Jeep". As far as the officers knew at the time, Hayes could have been driving from the scene of a theft. Again, she was treated as a suspect.

The officers tried to comfort her kids saying "Don't worry, mommy will be back in just a second." And there's nothing condescending about telling a crying woman "it's okay."

Villager said...

Woozie - The article indicates that the white guy was stopped on the day before by the city cops.

We can agree to disagree on this one.

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

"In March of 1857, the United States Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, declared that all blacks -- slaves as well as free -- were not and could never become citizens of the United States. ( . . . ) The framers of the Constitution, he wrote, believed that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect ( . . . ) "

A lot of white people, and aspects of the system itself, still agree with Justice Taney, even a hundred and fifty years later.

MsMarvalus said...

I happen to live in Kansas City and saw this story on the news...I think Woozie is disillusioned and blind and making excuses when none can be made...when a description is given—"Green Jeep"—and the person is said to have been stealing, what is the excuse for treating one person one way and the other person another way? I say none! If JC Penney called and said "We suspect this white person who just got into this green jeep" and the cops just stop him and ask him questions politely; but then Jc Penney calls and says "We suspect this black person who just got into this green jeep" and the cops stop her and make get out of her car, in the dark, with her babies in the car, scaring the bejesus out of her and her babies, that is racial profiling...I don't care how you look at it...

Angie said...

It's a trip to me how so many of the posts regarding stories this horrific have been leaving me speechless. What happened to this woman an her unborn child was a crime in itself.

Villager said...

Francis - I hadn't heard about the Supreme Court ruling. Thanx for sharing it with me.

Ms. Marvelous - Thank you for sharing your local perspective of this Kansas City story. Sometimes, I think that Woozie says outrageous things in order to get attention.

Angie - Thank you for sharing your village voice with us. I hope you come back often!

Woozie said...

I don't say outrageous things in order to get attention, and I'm sorry that my perspective, which you "appreciate", you also find outrageous.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

I had to teach my children that cops could be dangerous. If they were ever stopped by the cops for any reason, they were to be as compliant as possible and ALWAYS respond as respectfully and submissively as possible.
I did NOT want my children getting beat up by cops.

Villager said...

Woozie - C'mon, you don't really believe that the cops were being empathetic when telling the children "Don't worry, mommy will be back in a second" ... while simultaneously holding their mommy at gunpoint facedown on the ground? Do you? That statement at the end of your comment is what led me to beleive that you were being "outrageous".

In any case, your village voice truly is appreciated!

peace, Villager

Villager said...

Sagacious - The lesson that you taught your children is one that we were taught by my parents as well. My Dad was furious when he heard me mouthing off to a police officer on my block about "my rights". He told me that is unacceptable on my part. I could have been in the back of their car getting my a$$ kicked with no one able to do anything about it. This was back in the early 1970s...

Anonymous said...

Having the woman lay on her back was actually potentially very dangerous for the baby. It cuts off the blood flow to the womb and can cause problems for the mother as well. But really, the most dangerous thing is the stress - those kinds of stress levels could cause premature birth or miscarriage.

I couldn't believe it when I heard the cop tell her, once they realized they were WRONG, "I'll let you go back to your kids when you calm down." Like it's HIS right to decide whether she can go to her kids or not - that was false imprisonment! He had NO RIGHT to deny her the right to return to her children, whether she was upset or not.

This just smacks of "I'm a big manly cop and you're just a little lady and I'll tell you what to do because I'm in charge" - only he wasn't in charge.

Those cops are human rights abusers. It just infuriates me that they are paid to commit these kinds of atrocities.

Villager said...

Anon - Your points are on target. The sad thing is that I'm convinced that if the pregnant woman had been white ... the police officers involved would have handled things differently. I could be wrong ... but, it is what I believe...