Bay Area Rapid Transit police are facing accusations of racism and using unnecessary force once again after passengers witnessed the brutal arrest of a young woman who was accused of dancing on the train.
Nubia Bowe, a 19-year-old Black female, was arrested March 21 at the Lake Merritt station in Oakland, Calif., when someone complained to BART police about a group of teens dancing on the train.
One eyewitness, who later recanted the statement, pointed out Bowe and her friends as the suspects.
“We were on the train minding our own business when a man entered the train with two BART officers and told them it was us,” said Levi Allen, one of Bowe’s friends. “The guy came from a different car, and we had never seen him before.”
Bowe and her friends were placed in handcuffs despite other people on the same train car telling the police they had the wrong group.
Several bystanders even told police they saw the group of dancers get off the train at a previous stop.
According to several witnesses, Bowe was then slammed to the ground and struck repeatedly. One passenger added that the young woman’s “mouth was full of blood at this point.”
A cellphone video of the arrest shows passengers trying to explain to the police that they had the wrong group, but the officer didn’t appear to acknowledge the bystanders.
The video also captures Bowe screaming, “Let me go!”
BART police insisted their tactics during the arrest were necessary because Bowe and her friends “did not cooperate and became combative.”
The police log also claimed that “one suspect bit one officer” on his left arm.
Bowe’s two friends were cited and released while Bowe was held for four days and was reportedly denied the right to make a phone call.
Unfortunately, Bowe says her nightmare was far from over.
After reaching the county jail at Santa Rita, Bowe says she was placed in restraints and beat by the officers who claim she tried to attack one of the guards.
“Three male guards and one female guard came in my cell and beat me up,” Bowe said. “They hit me and then said that I assaulted one of them. So they chained my wrists to my ankles and tipped me over onto the urine-soaked ground so I couldn’t get up.”
Bowe’s bail was set at $120,000.
She is now facing four misdemeanor charges, including resisting arrest, and the incident has caused her to get kicked out of her training program at Treasure Island Job Corps.
She initially had a felony charge against her as well, but that charge was dropped to a misdemeanor.
Civil rights attorney Dan Siegel, who is representing Bowe, said that incidents like this are nothing new for BART police.
“This case represents another example of racial profiling by BART police,” Siegel said. “Although the end isn’t as tragic, it’s similar to the Oscar Grant case. Some person made a complaint about dancing on BART, Nubia and her friends were not the people dancing, and yet, she still faces two sets of charges for allegedly fighting with police and resisting arrest.”
On New Year’s Day 2009, the unarmed Grant was fatally shot by a BART police officer. Officers had been responding to reports of a fight on a train.
Two trial dates have been set for Bowe.
The day for the charges pertaining to the arrest at the BART station is set for Aug. 5.
The pretrial hearing pertaining to the alleged attacks that took place at the jail in Santa Rita is scheduled for May 19.