On December 7, Jazmine Headley was attempting to get her child care benefits reinstated at the Human Resources Administration building in Brooklyn, NY. Waiting for hours, Headley sat on the floor with her 1-year old son. She was told to move by a security guard. After Headley declined to move, the security guard called the NYPD and escalated the conflict. The police arrived and attempted to arrest Headley while she was holding her son. During the arrest, the police violently separated Headley from her son. The police also used a taser to threaten Headley and bystanders.
Following the altercation, Headley was held at Rikers Island and charged with resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and trespassing. While at Rikers, it was discovered that she had an outstanding warrant for credit card fraud in New Jersey. New York City dropped all charges, after outrage from the community, but she was still being held at Rikers to address the warrant in New Jersey. Headley’s son was put in the care of his grandmother and an Order of Protection was put in place against Headley.
Headley was released from jail on December 11, and is currently home in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn with her son. She will no longer face charges in New York City, the Order of Protection has been lifted, and she has been given a Pre-Trial Intervention to address the New Jersey warrant. The current outcome of the case was due, in large part, to community support and mass organizing.
The same day, a speak out was held at the Human Resource Administration building where Headley was arrested. Community organizers agitated for
Headley’s immediate release and spoke with community members. The speak out was coordinated by ANSWER Coalition, Gabriela NYC, Brooklyn Defenders, No New Jails Coalition, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Audre Lorde Project and countless other community organizations.
Speak out organizer and PSL member Kerbie Joseph told community members waiting to get inside the HRA building, “Everyday, Black and Brown women, their children, are shuffled into HRA buildings and experience disregard and violence. The difference in Jazmine’s case was it was caught on camera.” The organizers sought to support Headley because she will now become one of the many Black mothers monitored by the judicial and child welfare systems. Any link to these systems, which disproportionately interfere in Black and Brown families, makes her vulnerable to future inquiries and years of contact with the justice system and the Administration for Child Services.
The profit driven capitalist system that values profit over people has,
once again, exerted its violent force on working class Black people. Many Black workers are forced to rely on government agencies to meet their needs due to the hyper exploitation and oppression of Black workers. These agencies use state violence to force people to conform to their arbitrary requirements. When Black people demand human decency and respect, they are met with contempt and violence. This was the case for Jazmine Headley who wanted to access child care benefits so that she can continue to work and provide for her family and she was attacked by the NYPD.
Black mothers are constantly at risk of encountering state violence with their children. From erroneous ACS calls to random police stops, there is always a chance that you and your child could face violence, separation or death at the hands of the state. It is unfair to Black mothers and children to have to live with this constant fear and anxiety because the system is racist, sexist and unjust. In reality, basic services like child care should be free in the United States, the richest country in the world. This system needs to be dismantled today