Following in the wake of the beating of a 15-year-old girl by county cops in Washington state, and adding to the growing mountain of police brutality against women I am even more disheartened to hear about another set of accusations of police violence. This time, two male cops escorted a drunk woman to her home in the East Village, then returned to her apartment twice in the early hours of the morning. On their third visit, something happened. The cops are calling it sex; the investigators are dubious; the woman reported it later that day as a rape.
The thought of two police officers, supposedly entrusted with the safety of the people, taking advantage of an intoxicated woman makes me want to puke. This story has unfolded in the city’s media over the last few days. First the accusation and investigation, including a discovery of heroin and the “personal information” of other neighborhood women in the accused rapist’s locker. I don’t know what “personal information” means. A little black book of women he could go have sex with while on duty? Photos? Stalking notes? Who the hell knows. (The guy is married with two kids, incidentally.)
Yesterday, it came to light that multiple surveillance cameras had caught the officers’ comings and goings throughout the night, even though they appeared to be trying to stay out of sight of the building’s main security camera. Once again, I have perturbed and mixed feelings that the constant surveillance we live under around here (and in so many other cities) actually helps document abuses of power and violence against women. In this case, friends of the woman went to a nearby bar later the same day to ask the owner for surveillance footage.
Today, the younger cop told investigators that his senior partner did have sex with the woman they helped home. He claimed it was consensual. According to the NY Post, investigators are not buying that story. She was too drunk to walk by herself less than two hours before the time of the alleged rape, according to witnesses and cameras. And she certainly didn’t think it was consensual: the next day, she told the district attorney’s office it was rape.
UPDATE 3/4: Today the New York Post is reporting that the junior officer is now saying that his partner raped the woman while he stood by, and that he will testify against the accused.
You’ll notice that I titled this post “NYPD accused.” I don’t consider this kind of thing an isolated incident, and I think it’s very dangerous to assume that it’s just a case of “a couple bad seeds.” Police abuse of authority and irresponsible, illegitimate use of violence — and make no mistake, non-consensual sex is violence — is a pattern, not an exception. It is part of an authoritarian culture where whatever the police say, goes. No matter how many “good cops” you think there are, we cannot profess surprise or exceptionalism when some asshole abuses that power.
Furthermore, this happened in the 9th Precinct, in the East Village. Feministe bloggers (specifically, Jack and I) have tangled with the 9th Precinct before, not far from where this alleged rape happened, in person. I have seen them exercising unconscionable use of force on more than one occasion, taking their aggression out on drunks and challenges to their rule.
A couple summers ago, I was a block away from where the alleged rape happened. I saw half a dozen cops, probably 9th precinct, grab an intoxicated man and “subdue him” by bouncing his head on the pavement until there was blood all over the sidewalk. We yelled at them to ask why they were doing that, they screamed at us to get back and not interfere if we didn’t want the same. This is a common occurrence around here. It’s also more than common that thousands of women in this city go out with friends and coworkers and partners, get drunk, and take a cab home. It’s not too uncommon to end up puking in a cab. I can’t even remember all the times I have helped someone puke into a plastic bag or a thermos, in the back of a cab. I myself was puking in a cab three weeks ago, not far from there. Lucky for me and many others, I had cab fare. Luckily, nobody called the cops.
(h/t to Gothamist and the queer yenta)
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