Police Taser Pregnant Woman for “Excessive Noise” at a Backyard Party

htp Elle on twitter

Neighbors called police on a baptism party for Latino twins hosted by a church leader in his backyard. The neighbors say that they had spoken to Rodriguez, the home owner, several times prior to making the call and that he appeared he drunk and uncooperative. Police arrived and ultimately tasered both Rodriguez and the baptized twins’ pregnant mother multiple times. According to witnesses, police tasered Rodriguez repeatedly and when they, along with the  pregnant mother, went to help him up, an officer tasered her in the back. According to police Rodriguez was clearly drunk, which begs the question as to why a taser was necessary, and being uncooperative with them about the noise complaint.

As if this ordeal was not bad enough, Rodriguez was cited with public intoxication b/c he exited his own home and yard at the request of police and was therefore on a public street having been drinking at his party prior. The pregnant mother is currently being investigated by ICE and is therefore isolated from her now traumatized children and depending on her status maybe deported without them.

The city of Seattle did a study on the impact of taser use on pregnant women after multiple cases of police using tasers on them. The result of that study, not available online, was that they issued new guidelines against using tasers on pregnant women. They have urged other cities to adopt similar guidelines for the safety of both mother and child. Despite these recommendations, pregnant women continue to be tasered around the country. A google search resulted in over 92,000 hits showing up for “pregnant woman tasered.” It is unclear if there is a racial component to the number of pregnant women tasered, altho several of the early hits on google are all women of color tasered by white male police officers including one black woman who was tasered in the stumach while trying to break up a fight between neighborhood kids,  but obviously there is a high potential for misogyny being a key component in the decision to taser pregnant women of any color.

Like other cases involving neighbors who called police rather than work from a community model, this case could have gone differently had different skills been used.

I have noisy neighbors. I have repeatedly in the past had to ask them to turn it down in the middle of the night/early morning. They have even thrown a concert, sans permits, in their backyard that included songs amplified throughout the child friendly neighborhood about the singers body parts and graphic sexual activities. So I empathize with anyone who is trying to sleep or have quiet in their own house while neighbors are acting up.

My neighbors are white and all of them are 20 something college kids who thought our family friendly neighborhood was the campus annex. Despite their incredible nuisance to the neighborhood with regards to noise, taking up limited parking, potentially drunk party goers driving home or sleeping in their cars until sober, etc., we have consistently made the decision as a neighborhood to confront and befriend them and provide them with information about noise ordinances and fines. Meaning, we interact with them and include them in our daily lives, establishing a rapport that makes them recognizable and approachable. When there is conflict, we talk to them rationally and reasonably. When necessary we try to educate them about the laws and fines associated with their behavior in ways that show we are not just push overs afraid to seek alternative means to reach agreement but that do not enforce a sort passive-agressive use of threat either. The result is that our neighbors, ultimately stopped throwing ridiculously loud parties, no longer have backyard concerts, and shut down the parties they do have at a reasonable hour. They even encourage their friends to carpool/bike/bus to their parties, or park in the public parking structure a few blocks away and walk to the house, rather than take up all the parking on our street and risk driving home drunk. By talking to my neighbors, treating them with respect, and inviting them to participate in the neighborhood, backed by the understanding that where dialogue breaksdown other options are available , we are able to live our lives next door to one another without antagonism, resentment, or random acts of pettiness that often ensue otherwise in these situations. We do so across race, gender, sexuality, class, age, ability, and region of origin.

Our mixed use neighborhood, with a wide variety of socio-political and economic persuasions and racial and ethnic and gender identities, functions like an extended family because we have made the commitment to see each other as people and potential friends rather than the scary Other in our midst. When police are called to our neighborhood b/c of actual crimes or breakdowns between neighbors, we have all made a commitment to witness police interaction with our diverse neighborhood and interrupt negative policing tactics. We hold each other and them accountable for not enforcing stereotype or policing marginalized identities. Similar systems have been written about in feminist texts as varied as Native American feminists in the U.S., black feminists in the Caribbean, and aboriginal feminists in Australia. Perhaps sitting down with the wisdom of over policed cultures and the feminist who put their work to paper, as well as with your own reflection, will finally make it possible for us to live with one another in safety and peace.

9 thoughts on “Police Taser Pregnant Woman for “Excessive Noise” at a Backyard Party

  1. Prof, what you describe re: your neighbors, and your approach to interacting with them, puts the C (big C) in community, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the aforementioned requires too much time and energy for most. Despite the ideals we uphold for American society and culture, we are truly a vindictive people, out to “get” the next person.

    RE: Pregnant women being tasered: The taser is a nasty weapon, and in the hands of male police officers with testosterone run amok and with something to prove, the results can be devastating. The figure – 92,000 – is horrific. It would be interesting to explore the demographics behind the numbers. But, I bet that the numbers would bear out the fact that there are few pregnant White women of middle/upper middle class status being tasered.

    • I agree. misogyny is key here and it would take factoring in the stats for over-policed neighborhoods and/or populations to make any race and class arguments about tasering specifically, b/c the numbers will likely reflect where police efforts are concentrated. The reality is common sense should say not to taser an unarmed pregnant woman in 99.9% of cases if not all, but misogyny and patriarchy allow it to happen anyway. add racism, classism, homophobia, and/or transphobia to the mix . . . (Remember the youtube of the elderly woman who the officer tasered during a routine traffic stop on the highway for refusing to get out of the car? Yes she was surly, but that was no reason to taser her or stand over while she begged him to stop and not do so.)

    • Why can’t they just be dumb — officers instead of having testosterone problems and something to prove? I mean they do dumb stuff all the time like hire prostitutes on the job, or the cop who threatened a star bucks guy for free coffee for months. I think police departments in general need to have a common sense test. Especially when I think of the 14 to 16 year old in Chicago who posed as a police officer for 6 hours with a cop in the car and no gun and didn’t get noticed, not to mention the fact that it wasn’t even his first time doing it. I don’t think it has anything to do with misogyny because of the fact that they tasered the grand father from the front back and side. Actually never mind I agree with you on the testosterone because it shouldn’t take one cop to taser a drunk older man who happened to be drunk let alone three.

      • welcome to the blog IAD. I think every profession has ppl who behave badly; bad behavior is not the same as oppressive behavior and both can exist in the same profession at the same time.

  2. Pingback: Smite Me! » Blog Archive » links for 2009-08-10

  3. Pingback: UK police may be issued with higher powered tasers

  4. I admit, I have not been on this webpage in a long time… however it was another joy to see It is such an important topic and ignored by so many, even professionals. I thank you to help making people more aware of possible issues.Great stuff as usual

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