High-profile incidents of alleged police misconduct have captured national attention in recent years, from the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown to the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling in one 48-hour period last July. These black men are part of the demographic group whose cases the press most often covers, and in many ways rightly so: Black and brown men represent the majority of those affected by documented police-involved shootings. But there are other ways law enforcement unjustly exerts its power—and against other communities, too—that often slip below the national radar.
Recent efforts among activists have focused on elevating victims of police abuse who don’t receive nearly the same amount of attention, namely women of color and trans people. The #SayHerName movement, for example, is trying to raise the profiles of black women subjected to police violence or mistreatment: women like Sandra Bland, who in 2015 died in police custody in Waller County, Texas; Dajerria Becton, the 15-year-old who a McKinney, Texas, cop slammed to the ground at a pool party in 2015; and Rekia Boyd, who was shot and killed by an off-duty Chicago detective in 2012.
In her forthcoming book Invisible No More, author Andrea Ritchie chronicles cases of abuse and violence involving women of color and trans women, who often confront types of misconduct not typically associated with the use of force: being groped during stop-and-frisk, forced to perform sexual acts in lieu of arrest, and hit on during domestic-violence calls. As Ritchie puts it, women of color, “long the backbone of efforts to resist state violence, are insisting that we will no longer only play the role of aggrieved mother, girlfriend, partner, sister, daughter, or invisible organizer, and demanding recognition that we, too, are targets of police violence.”