The death of 18-year-old Sheneque Proctor, a black woman arrested in Alabama during a night of rowdy partying, has raised controversy over her treatment while in police custody. A petition calling for a state and federal investigation into the death of Proctor, who was found dead in her cell after one night in jail, is circulating on Change.org.
Close to 5,000 people have signed the petition as of Sunday evening.
Proctor was arrested on November 1, during a party at Bessemer Hotel, for disorderly conduct and taken to Bessemer City Jail in Alabama. According to reports, Sheneque called her mother for bail, but couldn’t get help at the time and remained locked up overnight.
Due to the circumstances surrounding her death, Sheneque Proctor has earned the nickname of “the female Eric Garner” by some activists who compare her situation to that of the New York City man who died after being put in a chokehold by police over the summer. Garner repeatedly said “I can’t breathe” while being arrested, and the medical examiner found that the police chokehold contributed to his death.
Though Proctor died almost two months ago, her family has yet to receive a notice of the official cause of death.
According to an account from her aunt, Tracy Rodder, Sheneque had complained of having a problem with asthma and difficulty breathing. Friends of Proctor also said she was treated roughly while being arrested. According to a report in Countercurrent News, Bessemer City Attorney Shan Paden said he wanted to be conservative about drawing any conclusions.
“I know the case,” said Paden of the death of Shenque Proctor. “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 to call for an investigation into Proctor’s death was started on December 8, but has gained relatively little attention, despite ongoing national protests of police impunity in the case of the death of suspects and those arrested.
Petition sponsor Karen Jones of Montgomery, Alabama, writes on the petition that the death of a number of people in recent months at the hands of police has spurred a tremendous amount of controversy over impunity for the use of police force.
“Yet in Alabama where most of the historical landmark Civil Right Movements and cases we have lost an 18 year old Black young woman under the hands of Bessemer Police,” writes Jones.
In the case of Proctor, the NAACP has been involved since early on. After the family was notified of her death, several relatives and the president of the NAACP Alabama State Conference tried to get more information at the jail. Even her mother, Scherita Proctor, was unable to find anyone to give her more information about what had happened to Sheneque Proctor.
[Image via social media]