The prevalence of police sexual violence is a systemic problem, with various forms of abuse often targeting marginalized communities, such as women of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, sex workers, and those at risk of incarceration. These abuses, ranging from sexual harassment to invasive strip searches, are largely underreported, creating a culture of silence. A report by the American Civil Liberties Union detailed several instances of sexual violence by police.
One includes the case of 60-year-old Black man Albert Williams, seeking compensation for injuries during his assault. This incident involved nine undercover officers from the Bronx Narcotics Unit, who subjected Mr. Williams to physical assault on a public street, accompanied by the use of racial slurs. The officers repeatedly punched, kicked, and stomped on him while he lay defenseless on the ground with his hands restrained behind his back.
Following this, they restrained him in handcuffs against the rear of their van, further subjecting him to physical abuse, particularly in the groin area, while employing derogatory racial language. Subsequently, Mr. Williams was unjustly arrested on fabricated charges, which the prosecuting authority eventually dismissed entirely.
Other examples in the ACLU report include the story of Ternell Brown, a 47-year-old Black woman who claims she was sexually abused during a traffic stop in Baton Rouge alongside a Northern Cheyenne woman who was coerced to perform sexual acts by an officer who threatened to have social services take her children away.
These experiences are not isolated incidents but rather a symptom of a deeply rooted problem within our law enforcement institutions. We cannot ignore the systemic nature of police sexual violence and its devastating impact on marginalized communities, and we must stand together to demand justice and accountability.