Justice for Jazmine: Immediate Release for Mom Whose 1-Year-Old Baby Was Ripped From Her Arms by NYPD [Updated]

Brooklyn Defender Services, an advocacy group that provides criminal, civil, family, and immigration legal defense to clients in need, announced that criminal charges have been dropped against Jazmine Headley, a 23-year-old mother who was the subject of a brutal viral video.

In the video, filmed last Friday at a social services building in Brooklyn, Headley is captured lying on the floor as four NYPD officers rip her 1-year-old baby from her arms.

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Following the humiliating incident, NYPD arrested Headley and charged her with resisting arrest, obstruction, trespassing, and harming her own child. Before police confronted her, Headley had been sitting on the floor of the Human Resources Administration building because there were no available seats. Her mother, Jacqueline Jenkins, told WABC Headley went to the HRA building that day because she needed daycare vouchers for her child.

Headley has been held at Rikers Island without bail since her arrest.

In a tweet Tuesday afternoon, BDS says the charges against Headley related to the HRA encounter have been dismissed. The group has also filed a motion to get Headley released.

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According to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, Headley is being held at Rikers for an outstanding warrant from New Jersey. BDS Executive Director and Founder Liza Schreibersdorf wrote in a statement that attorneys are filing a special application requesting Headley be released today. If the application isn’t successful, Schreibersdorf says, Headley will be transferred to New Jersey tomorrow.

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Headley has been away from her infant son—and her cleaning job–since the arrest last Friday.

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“We are keeping [Headley] updated on the public attention her case has received and she is heartened by the outcry and support,” Schreibersdorf said.

Citizens and officials alike have been furious, with many people saying Headley’s treatment exemplifies the disdain the NYPD and government officials have toward the poor—particularly if they also happen to be black. Seeking help so she could provide for her family, Headley was instead traumatized and humiliated by the very institution she sought aid from.

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Many saw in Headley’s treatment a continuation of a longstanding American practice of devaluing black motherhood and criminalizing and punishing black mothers. As Andrea J. Ritchie wrote in her book Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color this includes mythologies like the “welfare queen” and “welfare mother,” which paint a picture of black motherhood and black children as “a deviant and fraudulent burden on the state that must be punished through heightened surveillance, sterilization, regulation, and punishment by public officials.”

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New York City Councilmember Corey Johnson was among many who demanded yesterday that Headley be released from Rikers Island.

“The level of trauma inflicted here on this young mother and child is deeply upsetting, disturbing and unacceptable,” he wrote.

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A GoFundMe has also been created by BDS to ensure Headley has some resources once she is released. The group hopes to raise $15,000 to go toward childcare for Headley—who still lacks the vouchers she sought last week.

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Updated: Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, 4:27 p.m. ET: Attorneys for Jazmine Headley have successfully argued for her release Tuesday afternoon.

Lawyers for Brooklyn Defender Services persuaded Judge Craig Walker to grant them a motion to release Headley on her own recognizance—that is, without having to post bail. She is expected to return home to her family from Rikers Island tonight.

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According to Alex S. Vitale, a sociologist and criminal justice advocate, BDS says it’s still fighting to have outstanding charges from Mercer County, N.J., dropped.

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About the author

Anne Branigin

Staff writer, The Root. Sometimes I blog slow, sometimes I blog quick. Do you have this in coconut?