Friday, June 25, 2010

7-months-pregnant Melanie Williams subject to police violence for seeking medical attention

Melanie Williams, an expectant Florida mother* in her last trimester, was recently driving alone when she began bleeding and feeling faint. She called 911, who told her to pull over before the call was cut off. Since William has sole rights to negotiate her body and health, she began rushing to the hospital to seek medical attention.

After she ran several red lights, the cops pulled her over, and instead of putting Williams' health first by escorting the pregnant, bleeding woman to the hospital and worrying about ticketing her later, they decided that it was more prudent to ticket her then. Williams, knowing her body and valuing the child inside her, decided she needed immediate medical attention and took off.

Barbara Pitts, who was sitting in the emergency room waiting room says it all happened within seconds: "A lady ran in first. A couple of seconds later two policemen came behind her and jumped her. They was trying to subdue her. So, once he had her down on the ground, his knees in her back trying to put handcuffs on her, she said help, just help me I'm bleeding and I'm pregnant."

JSO says, "From what we know. From what the police officers knew, they did what they were trained to do," says Chief Clark.

Melanie's family says the police treatment was too rough. The family also says Melanie has been in and out of labor since Sunday.
This is an example of disgusting police behavior. Police officers are trained to treat women and people of color as less than; their authority is a part of enforcing the kyriarchy.

This is an example of sexism. Women's bodies, particularly pregnant women's bodies, are public property: not theirs to negotiate, not theirs to decide when and how urgently they need medical attention. Their pregnancies are given lip service, but when push comes to shove, their health is a lower priority than a parking ticket, their wombs are less crucial than apprehending the concerned mother who owns them.

This is an example of racism. Black people are automatically suspect, and in traffic, their race is seen as an immediate indicator of wrongdoing. Police are allowed to use violence against them. Their medical needs are of a lower priority than enforcing police power; their bodies are simply not that important.

This is another example of how black women exist at an intersection that compounds racism and sexism that results in their particular form of oppression.

This is a racist, sexist society where Melanie Williams' care and concern for her health and the health of her unborn child is criminal.

Would this have turned out this way if she were white? I don't think so.

Via luxury problem

EDIT: Apparently, this actually happened five years ago. Williams and her daughter Malaysia are doing fine and recently received a settlement from the police. Sorry for the poor research!

*I use the language of mother and child to refer to Williams and her pregnancy because this is a wanted pregnancy.
ALSO, original title identified her as Michelle! Oops. Sorry!


  1. This police violence would've been excessive on anyone. I hope this really is not the protocol for handling people who flee from the police for traffic tickets. However, it is all the more outrageous because Ms. Williams was in a medical emergency. I am not sure how much sexist and racist motives played a role here, but I'm willing ot believe they did.

  2. Astrid, yes exactly. It's completely excessive and I'm shocked it hasn't been covered elsewhere.

  3. RMJ,

    I stumbled upon your blog through a friends profile. I apologize if this comes out a little sexist ;) but I am glad to see a woman's blog with more depth then a puddle and that addresses real issues. I may not share a lot of the same view points, but there is much that we agree on. I am just happy to see that the blogosphere still has opinions worth reading.

    Keep it up.

  4. Thanks JS, but I must say, there are a lot of great blogs written by women out there! I link many of them, so if you're looking for more to read...follow the links :)

  5. Thanks for the advice. My ex read a lot of dooce and personally I don't like her style of writing and it seemed to have no depth or meaning to it. I will check out some of the other ones as long as they don't get too mad at me for being a man ;) jk

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