Dozens of topless protesters stopped traffic in San Francisco last week on the National Day of Action for Black Women and Girls to protest the lack of national attention for black women killed by police brutality.
The protesters blocked a popular intersection in San Francisco, California, with signs and body paint with messages like this one: “For the murdered, missing, silenced, abused, exploited, unseen.” Similar protests have happened in other cities across the nation.
Chinyere Tutashinda, founding member of the BlackOut Collective and a member of the local chapter of Black Lives Matter, explained the significance of protesting topless. “We also understand that we live in a country that commodifies black women and black bodies but ignores the death of black women and black girls.”
Kimberlé Crenshaw, director and founder of the African American Policy Forum, co-authored a report that was also released last week to coincide with the #SayHerName social movement called “#SayHerName: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women.” The report highlights stories of Black women who have been killed by police, and studies forms of police brutality, such as sexual assault, that are often disproportionately experienced by women.
Crenshaw, who is a professor of law at UCLA and Columbia University, explained that as a nation we have been focusing on the experience of Black men interacting with the police, but “what we know less about is how Black women experience police brutality.” Crenshaw praised the national dialogue surrounding highly publicized deaths of Black men over the past year, but says that there is more to be done to expand. “When [women] are killed,” says Crenshaw, “they’re not part of the conversation.”
Crenshaw added in a press release “Although Black women are routinely killed, raped and beaten by the police, their experiences are rarely foregrounded in popular understandings of police brutality. Yet, inclusion of Black women’s experiences in social movements, media narratives and police demands around policing and police brutality is critical to effectively combating racialized state violence for Black communities and other communities of color.”
Hundreds of protesters also gathered in New York City last week, including the family members of Tanisha Anderson, Rekia Boyd, Miriam Carey, Michelle Cusseux, Shelly Frey, Kayla Moore, and Alberta Spruill, all of whom are Black women killed by police violence.
Media Resources: Time 5/22/15; San Francisco Weekly 5/21/15; AAFP Report May 2015; DemocracyNow.org;