Appalling and Disgraceful: How Does This Keep Happening

The video is extremely painful to watch. It’s even harder to hear the cries of Anjanette Young after Chicago Police bashed down her door and conducted a raid.  An unsupervised search warrant based on a false tip led to a scene that once again revealed prejudice, social inequality and has unnerving echoes of Breonna Taylor.

Young had gotten home from her job as a social worker and was changing when police barged through her home.  Watching the video, you see police with weapons drawn. They tear through her apartment – and worse, cuff her as she is naked.  They continue to go through her home, as Young screamed, yelling they have the wrong location.  As she continues to scream, vulnerable and cuffed, the male officers do little to treat her as a human being.  It is an ugly scene of humiliation and degradation. 

Young was shown so little respect it is appalling.  Even more damming, demanding respect in that moment could have cost her her life. 

Anjanette Young was so shaken, but still had the wherewithal, once her ordeal was immediately over, to file the necessary paperwork to get the video released.  Even though she was entitled to have video of  herself, it was a fight to obtain it, after filing a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request. Disturbingly, Chicago officials tried to block the release of that video. 

Why was this being blocked? Because it reveals such a tragic, egregious disrespect for human life.  For me as a Black woman, it is even more heartbreaking to see that it keeps happening to people of color over and over and over again. 

Aside from hitting home (and the fact that this could have happened to me or any one of my friends or sisters), my films document that this is the way Black women have been treated throughout history.   

In 1962, Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer was targeted at a rest stop after she and a group of activists left a voter registration workshop.   She was thrown into a squad car by police officers, and horrifically beaten in a county jail in Winona, Mississippi.  Years later in an interview, Mrs. Hamer recalled how she was in a room with men who not only beat her but took delight in her dress riding up on her as she endured the abuse.  A proud and religious women, she recounted that moment with a steeliness in her eyes, evidence of a fury (born from humiliation) that would stay with her for the rest of her life.

Her story is haunting, and that practice of injustice continues to repeat itself.  After Breonna Taylor, months later, we learn of Anjanette Young.   The saving grace is that Young did not lose her life and she was able to expose this publicly. 

Next week, Chicago’s city council will try to negotiate a settlement for Mrs. Young.  Will it be enough? Regardless of the outcome, nothing will be enough to erase the cries of fear and humiliation she endured that night, or soothe the scars of a history that still won’t fade.

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