2 Black mothers were mistakenly ambushed by Secret Service near the National Mall in DC. Both the women and DC officials are now asking why.
- Two Black women were handcuffed by Secret Service last week after they were misidentified by officers.
- The women, India Johnson and Yasmeen Winston, told FOX 5 DC that they were parking their car when the Secret Service smashed into their vehicle and handcuffed them for about an hour while their infants were still in the car.
- The mothers and DC officials are demanding answers for the altercation.
- In a statement to FOX 5 DC, the US Secret Service said "the characterization of the events portrayed in the media and by others are misleading, and in some instances, false" and"health and welfare of all of the occupants of the vehicle, to include two children, was a priority for the responding officers."
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Two Black mothers were apprehended at gunpoint by Secret Service in DC last week.
FOX 5 DC reported that the two mothers were on their way to splash their babies' feet in the fountains near the World War II Memorial. As they were parking their car, Secret Service smashed into their vehicle and pointed guns at the women.
The mothers, India Johnson and Yasmeen Winston, told FOX 5 that they were misidentified by the officers.
According to the report, the women were handcuffed for about an hour until they were released to their infants, who were in their hot vehicle throughout the entire altercation. Winston's son is 6 months old and Johnson's son is 13 months.
The women told the outlet that some of the officers were not wearing masks.
Both women are calling for the Secret Service to suspend officers involved. They also are requesting body camera footage and internal investigation, FOX 5 DC reported.
Their lawyer Timothy Maloney is demanding answers.
"These were two young African American mothers with their babies sitting lawfully in a car with DC tags," Maloney said in a letter to the Secret Service Director James Murray, according to the Washington Post. "Can the Secret Service honestly say it would have treated white out-of-town tourists and their babies, sitting there without District tags, the same way?"
In a press release Tuesday, DC Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, announced that her office had penned a letter to the Secret Service demanding answers for the two mothers and asking them to respond within five business days.
—Eleanor #DCStatehood Holmes Norton (@EleanorNorton) August 5, 2020
The letter sent to the Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and US Secret Service Director James Murray, asks why the women were targeted.
"Such an incident must not be tolerated anywhere – but it will not be tolerated in our nation's capital," Norton said in the press release. "I am demanding answers to several specific questions, including why these mothers were arrested at all when it was apparent that their license plate did not match the one on the stolen car and why were they never read their Miranda rights."
FOX 5 DC received a statement from the US Secret Service on Tuesday.
In the statement, the Secret Service said they were conducting an investigation, and added that "the characterization of the events portrayed in the media and by others are misleading, and in some instances, false."
The Secret Service went on to claim that officers had been "informed that a person known to have driven the vehicle was wanted by the Fairfax County, Virginia, Police Department in connection with several felonies, and was designated as 'armed and dangerous.'"
"The occupants of the vehicle were briefly detained until it was determined they were not wanted by law enforcement. During the felony traffic stop, a Uniformed Division patrol unit made incidental contact with the suspect vehicle. No injuries were reported at the scene," they continued.
The Secret Service also added that they called medical services to the scene and "health and welfare of all of the occupants of the vehicle, to include two children, was a priority for the responding officers."
But that's not a sufficient response for the mothers. Both Johnson and Winston told the Washington Post they felt traumatized from the experience. "I thought the police was here to serve and protect us, and now it's really uncomfortable," Winston said. "The fact that our kids had to witness this? Nobody wants to introduce their kids to this."
"I could have been another Breonna Taylor," Winston said. "I could have been another innocent woman who has no record and got shot."
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