Fay Wells is a young, single black woman living alone in Santa Monica, CA. She is the vice-president of strategy at a multi-national corporation, a graduate of Duke University and has an MBA from Dartmouth. Her criminal record is clean as can be; not so much as a parking ticket. Yet she was treated like a dangerous criminal, with a squad of police pointing guns at her, treating her like they do most blacks in America.
Her nightmare began when she locked herself out of her apartment, where she had lived for seven months. After calling a locksmith, she was relaxing in her home when she heard a dog. She opened the door to see a huge dog. Alarmed, she shut and locked the door. When the dog started barking, Wells peeked out her window, asking what was going on. She saw a gun aimed at her and a man yelled at her to come out with her hands up.
She did as she was told (so there goes the usual “If she had only complied” argument), asking the officers — two now, both pointing guns at her — what was going on. There was no answer, just questions about how many more like her were in the apartment. There were none, of course, and no pet (no dog to shoot because it was “threatening”).
Wells asked over and over what was going on. She did not give police permission to enter her apartment, but they did anyway. Wells was manhandled out to the street and noted that there were now 16 officers at the scene. She didn’t find out until much later that a neighbor had called the police to report that her apartment was being broken into. The neighbor didn’t recognize her. She was left traumatized:
I had so many questions. Why hadn’t they announced themselves? Why had they pointed guns at me? Why had they refused to answer when I asked repeatedly what was going on? Was it protocol to send more than a dozen cops to a suspected burglary? Why hadn’t anyone asked for my ID or accepted it, especially after I’d offered it? If I hadn’t heard the dog, would I have opened the door to a gun in my face? ‘Maybe,’ they answered.
Wells has come forward with her story now because the Santa Monica police department has not been forthcoming with the information she has requested several times: including names and badge numbers of the 19 police officers dispatched to her apartment. Wells has filed an official complaint with SMPD internal affairs.
Mostly, she is heartbroken about the system and the way it treats people of color, then excuses it. She knows that, with one wrong word or move, she could have ended up like Michael Brown or Freddie Gray. She is now terrified of large dogs and police.
Who can blame her? Why is it still okay for people of color to be treated like this? You’d think that, after the last couple of years, we would have learned. But, no. This still happens. Everywhere. It has to stop.
Featured Image via Pixabay