National Black Women’s Justice Institute Statement on Rochester Police Pepper-Spraying Young Girl
The National Black Women’s Justice Institute released the following statement from Executive Director Dr. Sydney McKinney responding to video footage of Rochester police pepper spraying a nine-year-old girl:
“The actions of the officers involved in this incident are abhorrent and unacceptable. This is made strikingly clear in an exchange between the young girl and one of the officers, who, at one point in the video, says to her as she is handcuffed and crying out for her father, “You’re acting like a child.” She responds, “I am a child.”
This incident, and many others, shows how the convergence of racial bias and gender bias make interactions with police devastating and traumatizing for Black girls. Law enforcement and others continue to view Black girls as less innocent and more adult-like. The status quo of law enforcement responses and criminalization of Black girls only causes more trauma and does little to heal or increase public safety. We must change how we respond to mental health needs and people in distress.
We must advocate for empathy and compassion and invest in real, community-led mental health services that are gender- and culturally-affirming for Black girls and that support and promote healing and connection. We need healing-centered justice."
About the National Black Women’s Justice Institute
The National Black Women’s Justice Institute (NBWJI) works to reduce racial and gender disparities across the justice continuum affecting Black women, girls, gender non-conforming people, and their families, by conducting research, providing technical assistance, engaging in public education, promoting civic engagement, and advocating for informed and effective policies. We conduct research, evaluation, and technical assistance from an intersectional lens that centers race/ethnicity and gender as well as gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation/identity for participants, staff, and partners organizations/individuals.