American ICJ lawyer claims jaywalking arrest was racially-motivated
An American lawyer working at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague says she was the victim of racially motivated police brutality when she was arrested for jaywalking in the city earlier this week. "I was brutalized by 2 Dutch male police officers, arrested, and thrown nto jail, while on may way to work, on the grounds of the International Court of Justice - and I ended up in the hospital swollen, bruised, and injured", Chaka Laguerre writes in her account of events on Facebook. The Hague police denies any form of racism and is filing a complaint against the woman at the ICJ, the police said in a statement.
Laguerre was arrested on Tuesday morning in the area of the ICJ because she crossed the street while the light was red at the junction of Anna Paulownstraat and Laan van Meerdervoort. She did so because she felt unsafe crossing on her bicycle with the busy traffic. Passing police officer approached her and asked her for her ID. After this things went south.
According to Laguerre, she told the police officers that she does not travel with her U.S. and U.K. passports, but showed them her ICJ badge ID, explained that she was working at the court and that the court security could give them a copy of her ID. She also had her Dutch ID card from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but according to her, the cops did not give her a chance to present it.
"I continued to try to explain that I work at the court, but they refused to listen to me or acknowledge my ID." she writes. "Then, they both slammed me against the police car and began aggressively pulling on and bending my arms in multiple directions behind my back, banging me against the car, beating on my legs, pushing into my back, stepping on me, handcuffing me, and trying to drag me into the car. I was crying and pleading with them not to arrest me."
Laguerre writes that many bystanders stood and watched her arrest, some even filming what happened. She called out for help, but no one stepped in. She was eventually pushed into the police car and taken to a police station, where she was left in a cell for over an hour before being allowed a phone call, she writes. Colleagues managed to track her down and she had to pay a fine before being let go. "I felt so humiliated. And I walked out of that precinct feeling truamatized."
"I am sharing my experience because, tomorrow, this could happen to a little black girl, and I want her to know that, if this happens to you, which it will happen to you, YOU MUST BE STRONG AND DO NOT GIVE UP." Laguerre writes. "I am sharing my experience because I want people of color to know that we must continue to fight, not merely for our right to live as dignified human beings and our right to bodily integrity, but so our children can live in a society where they no longer have to feel hopeless and afraid. This is why I became a lawyer."
The Hague police vehemently denies the "unjust accusations of the woman", the police write in a statement on their website. According to the police, the entire incident was caught on CCTV cameras.
The police write that the surveillance footage shows the police officers approach the woman to address her on dangerous traffic behavior and ask her for identification. "She could not produce it after which she wanted to wal away. The camera footage clearly show that she wanted to walk away and that the officers initially took hold of her bike basket and then took hold of her one arm." the statement reads. "From that moment the woman began to resist severely."
According to the police, the woman repeatedly tried to break free of the officers' grasp and even tried to hook an officer with her legs while calling to bystanders. "Eventually the officers, who are visibly doing their jobs calmly, managed to handcuff the woman." the statement reads. "Also in the car the vehement resistance continued and the officers even got permission to bring the woman to the office as soon as possible with flashing lights and sirens."
The police statement says that the woman was put in a cell and was eventually let go with only a written report filed against her for refusing to show her identity documents and resisting arrest. The entire incident took an hour and 20 minutes, according to the police. "The police stress that the woman was arrested as a result of her dangerous traffic behavior. The accusations of the woman that the the police showed racism and violent behavior are totally unfounded. The police chief of the unit Den Haag will submit a complaint to the President of the International Court of Justice against the woman concerned for her allegations against the police in which she suggests that there was racist police brutality", the statement concludes.