Pictured: Sheneque Proctor, 18 years old at the time of her death
A young African American woman from Brighton, Alabama recently died in police custody. Police have still refused to provide any reasonable explanation for the cause behind her death. We were among the first and only news sites to report on the death of Sheneque Proctor. But we honestly expected mainstream coverage of the tragic death of this 18-year-old woman to follow, especially given how widely our report on her death circulated.
We are used to being among the first to cover cases of police brutality and injustices, only to see the mainstream, corporate media catch on weeks or sometimes months later. But this time something is different. Unlike our early coverage of John Crawford, or Tamir Rice, the story of Sheneque Proctor continues to be ignored by the mainstream media, in spite of the numerous similarities to high profile cases like that of Eric Garner.
A new petition has begun circulating in response to Proctor’s death at the hands of police officers. Many have begun referring to Proctor as the “female Eric Garner,” not to diminish her unique life, personality and death, but instead to highlight how the media is ignoring the death of an African American woman with asthma in police custody.
The petition demands a federal and state investigation into the death of the 18-year-old, who died in the Bessemer City Jail after she was arrested on November 1st. She was at a Bessemer hotel at a party with friends when police arrived and arrested her for “disorderly conduct,” according to her aunt, Tracy Rodda. Early the next morning, Proctor was found dead in her jail cell, after having complained of problems with asthma which police apparently refused to take seriously.
Bessemer City Attorney Shan Paden commented, “I know the case. I know we had a death in the jail. Erring on a conservative side, not to protect the city but to protect the rights of an 18-year-old, the city of Bessemer will not disclose any information.”
The petition was created on Change.org last Monday, but has received relatively little attention. The petition explains the following about Sheneque Proctor’s death and links it to unrest throughout the nation.
“The death of Black Men like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice is a clear indication that Black Lives are in jeopardy from Police who have declared it open season on Black Men,” Karen Jones of Montgomery Alabama writes, in her description of the petition.
“Insult over injury, no indictment and a video which clearly shows officers using a choke hold on Eric Garner who loudly and clearly stated that he could NOT breathe was not enough to save his life,” according to the online petition.
“Yet in Alabama where most of the historical landmark Civil Right Movements…we have lost an 18-year-old Black young woman under the hands of Bessemer Police,” the petition continues.
Proctor’s family says that she suffered from asthma, and had complained of being treated violently by Bessemer Police officers who made the arrest.
After Proctor made complaints, she was found dead in her jail cell the next morning, but Bessemer authorities refused to comment on the case. All media inquires have been referred to the State Bureau of Investigations, which spokeswoman Robyn Bryan said “is looking into the case.”
“This family deserves some answers,” the petition declares. “We don’t need another ‘I can’t breathe’ story. Her life mattered and still matters to her family. They deserve answers from the State Bureau of Investigations and the FBI.”
The petition demands that State Senator Quinton Ross, State Representative Alvin Holmes and U.S. Representative Terri Sewell “request both State and Federal investigations in the death of this 18 year old Black female.”
“We don’t know what happened,” said Proctor’s mother Scherita to reporters. Her family is encouraging people to sign the petition and help put the pressure on for a thorough investigation.
Another baby gone…☹️☹️☹️☹️☹️