Police Sgt. Danika Yampierre gave birth to her third child on a sidewalk and that’s just one of the reasons she decided to press charges against the Baltimore Police Department. She’s joined by three other Black women—Sgts. Jasmin Rowlett and Welai Grant and former Sgt. Tashawna Gaines.
Yampierre is a 15-year police veteran who in official documents filed last year, states that she had to undergo emergency surgery because of complications from the birth.
All the women allege they’ve faced discrimination based on race and gender. Their reports which initially started as complaints, were met with ridicule and retaliation.
“I would never want my children to experience this and to see everything that I’m going through,” Yampierre told NBC. “I’m supposed to be their hero.” In addition to race and discrimination, Yampierre is also suing for discrimination based on pregnancy-related disability.
The women are being represented by Dionna Maria Lewis, an attorney who spoke to the increasing number of Black female police who are reporting and seeking damages for discrimination and sexual harassment, especially in big cities. “Now, we have law enforcement women stepping up and finally saying enough is enough,” she said.
In September, the assistant police chief in Washington, D.C. was one of 10 Black women who filed a class-action lawsuit against the city who was told as a cadet to get an abortion, or lose her job. She was 18 at the time. The same week as the class-action suit, 3 cadets filed a separate complaint for retaliation and sexual abuse.
A common theme across all cities has largely to do with race and gender discrimination with sexual assault.
Last month, retired New York Policewoman Gillian Roberts, a Black woman, filed suit against Capt. Jeffrey Brienza, a white man, she alleges, raped her repeatedly even going as far as to arrange her schedule to allow for more time with her. After filing an official complaint with internal affairs, she began being called the ‘Captain’s Girl.’
Fear of retaliation is often a motivator for silence among Black female police. Lt. Charla James-Hutchison, Sgt. Dione Alexander and Sgt. Sabrina Braswell-Bouyer had each been with the Pierce County, Washington, Sheriff’s Department for more than 25 years and alleged in their civil suit filed on Nov. 1, the department participated in and ignored racial and gender-based discrimination and harassment and allowed a “culture of animosity towards African Americans and women to grow and fester.”
As for Yampierre and the other three women, the Baltimore Police Department declined comment.