Things That Matter

Police Violated This Woman’s Rights And Dignity When They Pulled Out Her Tampon On The Side Of A Busy Street

On Thursday, the City of San Antonio approved a $205,000 payout to a woman who had been violated by police officers.

Natalie Simms, 40, sued the city of San Antonio, Texas and ex-Detective Mara Wilson — who removed Simms’ tampon despite being told she was on her period.

The unimaginable experience all started when Simms was sitting on a curb and was approached by police.

Natalie Simms, a woman in her late 30s living in San Antonio, wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary as she waited for her boyfriend on that day in August 2016. She was sitting on the curb, her car parked across the street, talking on the phone and minding her own business.

That’s when police officers arrived. They believed she might be in possession of illegal drugs and asked to search her car. After she agreed, they called a female officer to also search her. Even though she didn’t have any contraband, they said she couldn’t leave until she was fully searched by detective Mara Wilson, according to court records filed last year in the Western District of Texas.

Later, Wilson, who allegedly did not have a warrant at the time, asked Simms if she could pull down her shorts.

Out in the public, as cars drove by, Wilson conducted a vaginal cavity search, the lawsuit said. Wilson instructed Simms to “spread your legs,” and asked, “do you have anything down here before I reach down here?”

“Natalie began to realize, with shock, what Officer Wilson intended to do,” according to the lawsuit. “Officer Wilson intended to reach down into Natalie’s pants and made contact with her pubic hair and vagina.”

When Simms told Wilson that she was on her period, the lawsuit alleges that Wilson lied by saying she wasn’t going to reach into her pants but just “look.” Instead, with five male officers watching, Wilson “pulled open Natalie’s pants and underwear.”

The conversation between Simms and Wilson, taken directly from the lawsuit, reads:

WILSON: Uh-huh. Are you wearing a tampon, too?
SIMMS: Yes.
WILSON: Okay. I just want to make sure that’s what it is. Is that a tampon?
SIMMS: Come on. Yes.
WILSON: Huh? Is that a tampon?
SIMMS: It’s full of blood, right? Why would you do that?
WILSON: I don’t know. It looked like it had stuff in there.
SIMMS: There ain’t nothing in there.

Wilson also commented on the amount of pubic hair Simms had and continued to tell Simms they could not go to the police station to finish conducting the search, despite Simms’ persistence, the lawsuit states.

Following the search, Simms sued the city of San Antonio and Wilson, alleging the encounter to be a “blatant violation” of her constitutional rights that “resulted in significant and lasting harm.”

Natalie suffered through a shocking display of what can occur when police power is unchecked. Natalie was humiliated and degraded as a result of the police officer’s actions,” her attorney Dean Malone told local news station WOAI in March 2018. “We intend to seek full damages available under the law and look forward to presenting Natalie’s horrible experience to a jury.”

In a surprise twist to Simm’s case, however, city lawyers offered $205,000 to Simms

The city settled the case before it could go to trial.

“We evaluate cases and look for potential resolutions without the necessity of proceeding to trial.  We were able to resolve this matter with this proposed settlement and believe it to be in the best interest of all involved,” said City Attorney Andy Segovia.

In the wake of the incident, the city nor the police department has issued any sort of apology.

In the wake of the incident, Wilson, who retired in May 2017, stood by the way she searched Simms. “It was really nasty, but I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything in there,” she told another detective, according to court records. She claimed she needed to conduct the search because “you don’t know what they have. I mean, they stick all kinds of stuff.”

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An ICE Nurse Says That Migrant Women Are Having Hysterectomies Performed Without Their Consent While In Detention Centers

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An ICE Nurse Says That Migrant Women Are Having Hysterectomies Performed Without Their Consent While In Detention Centers

Janis Christie / Getty Images

On Monday, news broke that an ICE detention center in Georgia was performing mass hysterectomies on migrants without their consent. The allegations came from a nurse at the facility along with numerous detained migrants and left many people shocked.

However, the U.S. has a long history of forcing people – especially people of color – into unwanted sterilization, which is a human rights violation and a form of eugenics.

Of course, when it comes to undocumented immigrants, who are regularly referred to as “unwanted” “aliens” by the current president, it’s not so surprising that these practices went unreported for so long. One immigrant in the complaint put it best: “This place is not equipped for humans.”

An ICE nurse and several migrant women allege that a doctor is removing women’s reproductive systems without their consent.

According to the complaint filed Monday by Project South, an Atlanta-based non-profit, a high number of detained immigrant women held at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Ocilla, Ga., are receiving hysterectomies, as well as other “dangerously unhealthy practices” at the prison amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

Dawn Wooten, who worked full-time at the detention center until July, when she was demoted to work as needed, said she and other nurses questioned among themselves why one unnamed gynecologist outside the facility was performing so many hysterectomies on detainees referred to him for additional medical treatment. She alleged about one doctor that “everybody he sees has a hysterectomy,” and that he removed the wrong ovary from one young detainee.

“We’ve questioned among ourselves like, goodness he’s taking everybody’s stuff out…That’s his speciality, he’s the uterus collector,” Ms. Wooten said in the complaint.

One detainee, interviewed by Project South, likened the center to “an experimental concentration camp,” adding: “It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies.”

“If it wasn’t for my faith in God, I think I would have gone insane and just break down and probably gone as far as hurting myself,” the woman said. “There are a lot of people here who end up in medical trying to kill themselves because of how crazy it is.”

The same prison has also come under fire for its medical practices amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Credit: Samuel Corum / Getty Images

Project South said the complaint alleges “jarring accounts from detained immigrants and Wooten regarding the deliberate lack of medical care, unsafe work practices, and absence of adequate protection against Covid-19.”

It summarizes the disclosures Dawn Wooten made to the DHS’s watchdog, and quotes unidentified detainees extensively. Covid-19 complaints included staff refusing to test symptomatic detainees, failing to isolate suspected cases, and not encouraging social-distancing practices.

For their part, ICE says to take the reports with skepticism.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement representative released this statement to Law & Crime News in response to the complaint: “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not comment on matters presented to the Office of the Inspector General, which provides independent oversight and accountability within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ICE takes all allegations seriously and defers to the OIG regarding any potential investigation and/or results. That said, in general, anonymous, unproven allegations, made without any fact-checkable specifics, should be treated with the appropriate skepticism they deserve.”

Women in ICE custody have long been subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment.

Credit: Getty Stock

Immigrant detention centers have long been accused of subpar medical care. However, the issue has become even worse amid the pandemic. The report filed by Project South describes how migrants are forced to live in unsanitary and unsafe conditions and even thrown into solitary if they advocate for basic human rights. But even before the outbreak, immigrant women’s bodies have always been the target of medical malpractice and cruelty.

ICE has allegedly denied treatment to detained women with cancer, brain tumors, and breast cysts, and it has a history of policing their bodies. The Trump administration has been accused of tracking migrant girls’ periods to prevent them from getting abortions, introduced a policy to deny pregnant women visitor visas, and literally ripped mothers apart from their babies during family separation. Azadeh Shahshahani, the legal and advocacy director for Project South, said women held at ICDC have said they are not given clean underwear which leads to infections and rashes.

She said detained women, who are mostly Black and brown, are in extremely vulnerable situations in which “they have no control over their bodies.” “It’s a very exploitative situation,” Shahshahani said of the hysterectomies. “There does not seem to be informed consent … they had pretty much no say in what exactly took place.”

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Naomi Osaka’s Display Of Support For Black Lives Matter Was The Biggest Win At The U.S. Open… Other Than Her Big Win

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Naomi Osaka’s Display Of Support For Black Lives Matter Was The Biggest Win At The U.S. Open… Other Than Her Big Win

Al Bello / Getty

After taking home a massive victory at Saturday’s U.S. Open, tennis star Naomi Osaka cemented her status as the reigning women’s tennis champion of the year. Her victory against Belarusian tennis play Victoria Azarenka meant she took home her third Grand Slam title in just three years. But the biggest part of Osaka’s win was the powerful statement she decided to make in every match leading up to it.

The 22-year-old walked into the Arthur Ashe Stadium each day using her platform to remind the world of racial injustice.

For each of her matches, the tennis star wore masks emblazoned with the names of Black victims of police violence.

For her final match, Osaka arrived with a mask with Tamir Rice’s name. Rice was a 12-year-old boy who was murdered by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann in 2014. At the time of his murder, Rice had been carrying a replica toy gun and had been shot by Loehmann almost as soon as the officer arrived at the scene he’d been called to. Reports notes that the caller claimed that a male was pointing “a pistol” at random people but also noted that it was “probably fake.”

Osaka used her platform to also honor Black victims such as Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and Ahmaud Arbery.

Breonna Taylor was a Black woman who lost her life after being fatally shot by police in March while she was sleeping in her home. Elijah McClain was killed by police in August 2019 after being put in a chokehold. Ahmaud Arbery was killed while on a jog in February. Osaka also wore the names of Trayvon Martin and Philando Castille. At the time Martin’s death in 2012, he was just 17-years old. Castille was fatally shot by police during a traffic stop in 2016.

“I feel like I’m a vessel at this point in order to spread awareness,” Osaka noted to ESPNW after her quarter-final win earlier last week. At the time, Osaka sported a mask bearing George Floyd’s name. Floyd’s murder in May, sparked protests across the country.

In seeing Osaka’s dedication to his son, Ahmaud Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery, Sr. told Osaka in a video message, “God bless you for what you’re doing.” Osaka later remarked in a tweet that after watching the video messages she “cried so much. The strength and the character both of these parents have is beyond me.”

After being asked about the intention behind the masks and what message she was intending to get a cross in a post-match interview, Osaka asked “Well, what was the message you got?… I feel like the point is to make people start talking.”

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