A 19-year-old girl endured a traumatizing experience at the hands of the police, which ended with her losing her locks. An investigation into the encounter is in the works.
The office of the Public Defender in Clarendon, Jamaica, are on their toes following claims by a Rastafarian teenager that a woman cop trimmed her locks while unjustly detained.
Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry gave assurances that investigations were ongoing, as they worked tirelessly to get to the root of the traumatizing incident.
Woman and her daughter compaining about a police arrest | Photo: youtube.com/Jamaica Gleaner
The victim, Nzinga King, recounted her ordeal in a video, which has since gone viral. In the footage, the 19-year-old and her mom Shirley McIntosh claimed that a female officer from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) forcibly trimmed her locks with a pair of scissors.
King's ordeal began when she boarded a taxi on her way back from school. Somewhere along the way, an unidentified man rushed into the taxi, followed by two officers who ordered the passenger to get down.
When the passenger refused to comply, they resorted to force, eventually attacking with a pepper spray, which diffused through the vehicle. To avoid getting choked, King exited the cab and undid her nose mask.
Photo of a young black woman with dreads looking away | Photo: Pexels
In her frustration, she reprimanded the officers for putting the other passengers, including a breastfeeding mom, at risk just to expel one passenger. The officers claimed she disrespected them. They then charged her for breaching COVID-19 protocols by not wearing a mask and took her into custody.
She allegedly spent four traumatizing days at the station without food or visiting privileges.
During the court hearing, King discovered she was charged for disorderly conduct and received a 10-day sentence. Just before being booked into the Four Paths Police Station in Clarendon, the cops ordered her into the bathroom, where the JCF officer assigned to the station showed up with scissors and cut her hair by force.
King identified the woman as Corporal Michelle. She allegedly spent four traumatizing days at the station without food or visiting privileges until her mom paid a fine of $6,000 to bail her out.
King's parents have demanded answers as to why their daughter's locks got trimmed against her will, thereby stealing away her identity. Aside from being traumatizing, the incident was also an abuse of the life-long Rastafarian's cultural and religious beliefs. Henry explained:
"There are many who wear locks as a fashion statement, but the Rastafari community wears their hair in that way as an expression of themselves, their identity and their faith and religion."
Police officers making an arrest | Photo: Pexels
The Public Defender also stressed the importance of respecting everyone's freedom of expression and right to decide the best way to wear their hair, especially in a democratic society.
Since going viral, King's story has spurred an internet outrage, with many demanding for the cops involved and the judge responsible for sentencing her to be charged and dismissed from their positions.
Photo of a gavel on a judge's table | Photo: Pexels
Others called for police officers to desist from abusing the poor masses in the name of exerting justice. Many extended words of consolation to King, urging her to keep pushing until she emerged stronger from the devastating experience.
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