Listen to this article here

Anjanette Young had just returned home from a long day of work at a Chicago hospital when a battering ram smashed open her front door.

Published 12/19/2020 | Reading Time 2 min 1 sec

By Erika Stone-Burnett, Senior Writer

Anjanette Young had just returned home from a long day of work at a Chicago hospital when a battering ram smashed open her front door. A group of nine male police officers burst into Ms. Young’s home, pointing their weapons at the medical social worker as she was undressing in her bedroom. 

Handcuffed while naked, Ms. Young told the law enforcement officers that they had the wrong home 43 times. The officers claimed to have a no-knock search warrant — a practice that is illegal in three states, including Virginia, which recently enacted legislation prohibiting no-knock search warrants following Breonna Taylor’s death at the hands of police officers who had the wrong address. The alleged warrant had been issued based on information provided by a jailhouse informant. 

Ms. Taylor’s experience with law enforcement is not unique. Ms. Young could easily have been another victim of racist police brutality that night in February 2019. Ms. Young recounted the officers screaming multiple directives at her. “If I had made one wrong move, I truly believe they would have shot me.”

Chicago law enforcement initially tried to block the release of bodycam video, which shows a handcuffed Ms. Young, naked and sobbing as she tells officers she lives alone. Ms. Young first tried to obtain the footage through the Freedom of Information Act, but her request was denied. It was only after Ms. Young hired an attorney and filed a lawsuit against the city that she received a copy of the video. 

However, after the video was anonymously leaked to the news media, the City of Chicago began drafting legal sanctions against Ms. Young and her attorney. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who initially denied knowledge of the raid, has apologized to Ms. Young and requested an investigation into the Chicago Police Department. 

Meanwhile, the law enforcement officers who terrorized Ms. Young have not been charged with any crimes, nor even named. Once the body cam video was leaked, Mayor Lightfoot and the City of Chicago sued for an emergency injunction to keep the footage from news media. This is eerily similar to the cover-up tactics of former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, who tried to suppress video of Laquan MacDonald’s death after the young man was shot 16 times by police officers.  

Following the “War on Drugs,” no-knock warrants became increasingly popular among law enforcement, all the while disproportionately targeting people of color. Due to judicial independence, most no-knock warrants are easily obtained by law enforcement, as “potential danger” is often enough to warrant a secret raid. Meanwhile, perceived danger is not the same as reasonable suspicion, the bar for searching someone’s home or property.

Ms. Young, who endured this police brutality nearly two years ago, only to be re-victimized when the video finally emerged, has a Go Fund Me, which was started by a social work professor in Chicago. Ms. Young plans to donate all the money raised to the social justice and counseling programs at Progressive Baptist Church. Young credits the ministry with helping her heal and move forward.

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...