Veterinarian Gives Blacks ONE MORE REASON To Despise Police!
In the February 1 edition of The People’s Voice, Dr. Stacy Branch, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from North Carolina, wrote a letter to the editor, detailing a traumatic encounter with Anniston (Alabama) Police, while traveling on the interstate highway (not even in the city proper). She characterizes this incident as the worst experience she has ever had in her entire life.
In her account, Dr. Branch recalled that “on April 25, 2007 my husband Victoriano D. Martinez (Victor) and I were in transit to College Station, TX (Veterinary Medical Conference) and Red Oak, TX which would be followed by arrival to Mexico. A little before 12:44 pm (EST) we were stopped by Anniston police. We were on Interstate 20 West at the level of Anniston, AL. The police car was behind us, passed us, then moved onto the shoulder off the road to let us pass. This allowed the officer to view us. He then followed us again. Seconds later, we were forced to pull over.”
“All of this occurred after a pretext stop that my husband touched a white line on the road (a lie). The officers’ actions were clearly malicious in nature with a goal to cause severe distress and denigration. I had my video camera running in the vehicle since the officer told me to leave it there (can hear this in video). It captured an incriminating statement between two of the officers while they were searching it.”
“We were victims of police misconduct (civil rights violation, false and malicious arrest, unlawful search and seizure, vandalism and more – details below). After such an experience, it would be very uplifting to know if my own community leaders are interested in some form of advocacy to expose this incident. I am finding it now more difficult to tell young people that working hard, sacrificing, striving for education and overcoming adversity has its rewards. Is the reward continued discrimination, disenfranchisement and absence of community?”
“We suffered appalling harassment, malicious arrest, violation of civil rights, and vandalism by the Anniston, Alabama Police Department (a city known historically for civil rights violations including the Freedom Rider Bus attack of 1961). Ironically, it turned out that the week we were accosted was the confederate celebration in that town.”
We were subjected to unreasonable search and seizure, harshly and excessively questioned about personal issues, unjustly arrested and handcuffed like dangerous criminals, and our property vandalized by Anniston police
In an telephone interview this week, Branch told The People’s Voice that “I have noticed a severe lack of concern for continued (and actually increased) incidences of abuse of law abiding citizens by law enforcement. Some examples reach the media. however, nothing seems to ever really change. Further, the masses who are suffering are never seen or heard in the media.”
“The scourge of police abuse of power is not, unfortunately, a new phenomenon. However, it has mushroomed into what appears to be a monstrous force terrorizing people (primarily law abiding individuals) in the United States.”
The false charges were ultimately dismissed (nolle prossed). But Branch said she and Martinez were groundlessly charged with illegal possession of prescription drugs, a female hormone progesterone. “This was dismissed because I not only had the prescription with me, I am a licensed veterinarian and specifically exempt from the code regarding the charge. My husband was unjustifiably charged with possession of a forged document. This charge was also dismissed. In addition to the horror we experienced during the incident (total of eight white male officers were involved), the effects of the incident continues to be tremendously adverse.”
Branch noted, “We have never been arrested for anything ever, and we are law abiding contributors to society.”
In light of this incident, Stacy Branch asks, “What do I tell young people? Do I tell them to “work hard, overcome adverse circumstances and hardships, get a good education, help your fellow man, contribute to society then get arrested for nothing and be abandoned by the very society to which you contribute?”
“The Anniston officers illegally searched us and our vehicle, put our personal effects on the street, damaged personal items, vandalized our vehicle and asked very personal and completely unwarranted questions and harassed us. We were needlessly and wrongfully handcuffed behind our backs like criminals for absolutely nothing. I was questioned and harassed for hours.”
“During all of this we were not allowed to call an attorney (among other violations committed by these officers). Not until after I was already photographed, fingerprinted and bail was set, I was allowed to make a call. I bailed myself out and was not allowed to bail my husband out of the jail until the day after the arrest. They even placed me in a locked cell for about 15 – 20 minutes after I already paid my bail. We kept our composure although believing we were going to be driven to a place to be lynched. In essence the incident still had the affect of a lynching.”
“After the incident, both had to seek medical treatment and psychological counseling. We were moving from North Carolina. However, we were immobilized for almost three months and suffered much financial hardship due to loss of money to pay the attorneys and doctors and to sustain ourselves in limbo away from home. One thing my husband said that really made me think is that he was disheartened not only for what we suffered, but that I suffered this although in my own country. He is correct. I have traveled out of the country and never suffered as I have in what is supposed to be my home.”
After months of unresponsiveness from any of the communities, she again wrote a letter to the editor, updating our readers, and renew her concerns. That letter appeared in the May 2, Edition of The People’s Voice.
The People’s Voice is proud to report that Dr. Branch’s voice was finally heard by one of our readers, Ralph Bradford, of Anniston, Alabama, who owns Martin Luther King, Jr. Daycare Center in that city. Bradford is also the Host and Producer of a Sunday Morning Talk Radio Program called “Black People Talking,” that airs on WHOG Radio Station in Anniston, and he offered to have Dr. Branch appear as his guest via telephone interview on Sunday morning, May 18. We hope to be able to present the recorded interview on this blog.