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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Not safe in your home

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Not safe in your home

I’m so angry I could cry. My blood is boiling because that’s how enraged I am at the trauma Anjanette Young, a...

I’m so angry I could cry. My blood is boiling because that’s how enraged I am at the trauma Anjanette Young, a social worker from Chicago, endured at the hands of Chicago Police Department (CPD). 

Just a week ago I wrote about how a Franklin County Sheriff officer shot and killed 23-year-old Casey Goodson as he entered his home. This week I’m not writing about a murder of a Black American — thankfully — but still another traumatic incident involving police officers and mistaken identity.

A typical day after work for Young turned into a nightmare as police entered her home with a battering ram through her door. Young, undressing in her bedroom, didn’t have time to put clothes on when male police officers entered her home, so there she stood, naked. Naked with nine police officers — with body cameras operating — in her home. Young’s body is blurred in the video. Did I mention it was February in Chicago and her door was destroyed by the battering ram, letting in the Chicago frigid air? The officers immediately handcuffed Young as she tried to comprehend what was happening. An officer wrapped a short jacket around her shoulders, but her front was still exposed. An officer retrieved a blanket and wrapped it around Young, but it did little good as it kept falling off. At some point one of the officers acted like he had some sense and held the blanket in place. All while this is happening, Young is sobbing, screaming, demanding to know what this is about and telling them they have the wrong house at least 43 times. 

And they did. 

How did they end up in Young’s home? An informant. An informant told police someone in the house had a gun and ammo. They busted into this woman’s house for a gun and ammo — not an arsenal, but a gun. 

Eventually, the cops figured out they had it all wrong. They turned off the body cameras when they went outside to discuss the error. The cops didn’t want to expose themselves, but they didn’t mind exposing Young. 

As if this incident can’t get any worse, the kicker is the guy they were looking for was right next door — wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet because he was on house arrest. He was easily trackable. 

Now, this incident happened about two years ago, but the saga doesn’t end there. Chicago Police Department never wanted this incident to come to light. Young had to file a Freedom of Information Act request to get the body camera video. CPD denied her request, however, as part of her lawsuit, a judge made the department give Young the video. Then hours before a Chicago news station aired the video, Mayor Lori Lightfoot tried to block it in federal court — and her lawyers wanted to punish Young for violating a confidentiality order. When asked about this, Lightfoot did a little bobbing and weaving and dodged the questions.

Now the kicker — there’s more than one — is nothing has happened to the officers because the incident is still under investigation. A whole two years later. In fact, the investigation didn’t open until nine months after the incident. 

As I watched the video and listened to Young scream in terror, I couldn’t help but feel her pain — and the pain of so many Black women who are violated and no one gives a damn. They didn’t listen to her, nor did they try to explain anything when she clearly was traumatized. Instead, the officers do what we’ve seen them do so many times before: stare at her with a smug, arrogant look on their faces and tell her to relax. 

Those police officers didn’t give two hoots about her privacy. They didn’t care that she was in her home, the one place where we’re supposed to be safe. The one place where you let your guard down and let it all hang out, literally and figuratively. Young said she was afraid to move for fear of being killed in her home. A fear that is not unfounded. Oh, another kicker: Young’s door was damaged so severely it wouldn’t close, so the nice police officers had to use an ironing board to keep it shut, further jeopardizing Young’s safety.

Young’s lawyer rightly assessed that if this was a white woman from Lincoln Park, the officers would’ve covered her up immediately. She would’ve been seen as vulnerable and needing protection. Black women aren’t seen that way and our bodies get little respect. I’m willing to bet when officers left Young’s home, they made jokes about what they’d seen, not caring about the harm they inflicted. 

It took two long years for us to learn about this incident. How many more incidents have happened that we know nothing about and never will? 

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